Frugal Living: 5 Easy Ways to Recycle and Save in Your Home

frugal living coupon envelope

Recycling — we all want to “go green” and be good stewards of the earth. But often, recycling seems to take more effort than we can muster. I know this from experience! Over the years, I’ve come up with some truly easy and painless ways to recycle within the home. These tips are good for the earth, and good for your wallet as well. Here are my favorite ways to recycle and save at home.

Recycle Cereal Boxes and Liners

The liner bags from cereal are some of my favorite things to recycle. Once the cereal is gone, I shake all the crumbs into the trash, and stack the empty bags in a drawer. I then use them for various things. Simply cut the bottom of the bag off and open it up. Voila — a ready-made surface perfect for kneading or rolling dough for cookies, noodles, or a pie crust. Roll the dough out between two bags for an even better result. You can also use the bags as a substitute for waxed paper, place them between layers of cookies and other baked goods.

We have used cereal boxes themselves as litter boxes for some of our small animal pets, like hedgehogs. Cut a box open the long way, fill it with some litter, and you have a free litter box. When it needs to be changed, just throw the whole thing away and start with a fresh box.

Reuse Plastic Containers

Don’t throw away that cottage cheese, sour cream, or frosting container when you’re finished with it. It can serve as a container for homemade jam, leftovers from dinner, or other items. It may not be the most attractive container, but it works in a pinch. For years, my mom and I have sent leftovers back and forth in these types of containers. When we finish with them, we can throw them away (or better, recycle them). There’s no worry about damaging or losing someone else’s nice container. Note that you may not want to microwave foods in these plastic containers. It’s safer to place the food on a microwave-safe plate first.

Repurposing Junk Mail Envelopes

Ah, those envelopes included in junk mail! We all get them. I feel bad about throwing them into the trash, so I always keep a stack in the cabinet. My favorite way to use them is to put all the coupons I plan to use on a shopping trip inside an envelope, then write my shopping list on the outside of the envelope. When it’s time to check out, the coupons I need are right at my fingertips inside the envelope. And after shopping, I can feel fine about recycling the envelope. It has served its purpose!


Using Free Calendars

I usually end up with several free small calendars. I like to keep one of these next to my computer to keep track of various things — for instance,  you can do a survey at Kroger every 7 days to earn 50 bonus points toward fuel purchases. Every time I do one of these surveys, I mark on my calendar the next date I’m eligible to do so. I also keep track here of freebies ordered and when they are received, etc. Sure, you could track these things on your phone. But I think there’s something nice about having the information in front of me in paper form.

Recycling Paper

We end up with so much paper. It comes from junk mail, kids’ school work —  you name it. For years, I have loaded this paper into my printer when I am ready to print something where it won’t matter if there is something on the back. A prime example is printing coupons. I always print coupons on “scrap” paper, and I have never had an issue with this. Of course, be careful of the paper you re-use. You don’t want to run off coupons on the back of last year’s tax return copies!

An added tip is to always choose black and white printing for coupons. I always cringe when I see someone redeem a coupon they have printed at home, in color. Black and white ink is much cheaper, so save that colored ink for the copies that truly need it.

There are my favorite easy ways to reuse and recycle at home. What are your best frugal living ideas? I’d love for you to share a comment about a way you save.


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5 thoughts on “Frugal Living: 5 Easy Ways to Recycle and Save in Your Home

  1. Great tip on Gas Points! I missed that one. Here’s something I don’t bother to buy that I see many buying: Enormous wheelie trash can bags. Skip ’em and save the money. Another savings is that I order my Wal-Mart nonperishable like laundry soap, kitty litter, shampoo online. $50 for free delivery. I do this via Swag Bucks and earn gift cards while not having to step foot in Walmart. Win-win since I get Amazon cards for my books! (And, save even more by buying used or on-sale only books).

  2. Since I reign as Queen of Frugal, I should be able to tell you volumes. I am sure I have more than enough gift labels than I will use in my lifetime. I take greeting cards I receive and cut some for gift labels. They look pretty cool, too. Some cards are suitable to use for picture post cards. There is a teacher who welcomes fronts of greeting cards so some I send to her for her classroom.
    A friend of mine got me started ironing tissue paper that comes in gift bags. I iron all that I get in gifts. It looks good as new!
    Of course I reuse Ziplock bags and tin foil, but that’s old as the hills. When I visit someone and see them whipping out a new Ziplock bag I think to myself – WOW – amazing!
    I do not buy Kleenex. I use hankys – always!
    Ditto for paper towels. I have a rag drawer that is spilling over. It is a bottom drawer in my kitchen and I have so many rags that I’ve removed the drawer & filled the space UNDER the drawer with tons more! After the rag is used, it goes in my laundry and gets used again and again!
    40 pound bags of softener salt: After the salt is dumped in the softener, I save the bags and put trash in them.
    The first day of a new season I get a new toothbrush. My old one goes in my dishwasher. Then I keep them to use for various chores. They come in very handy!
    I do gobs more but this gives you an idea of my lifestyle.
    I really can live on little to nothing!

  3. Susan, your Grandma Schulte would be so proud to read your post. Since our building allows us to recycle almost everything for free (other than in the monthly maintenance fee, where I’m sure it is included) I simply recycle things there — paper, containers, aluminum, cans, bottles, plastic, etc. You name it, we can recycle it. And I do.

  4. We have an extensive recycling program in our county here in Central Florida. I think I’ve been recycling all of life though. One thing I always do is use what is left in a tube (face products, sunscreen, hand cream, etc.). I cut off the flat end, then use my finger or a piece of plastic to get out the rest of the product. I use it up as I need it and keep the opened tube in a small zippered plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out. I have gotten as much as two more weeks out of one of my face products!!

  5. As I suspected, I have enjoyed the comments 😉 Lisa, do you mean you’ve seen people buying liners for the trash dumpsters? That does seem wasteful. I love the idea of ordering staples online from Amazon with the free delivery — esp. great for heavy stuff. “Frieda,” I knew you would have some good ideas 😉 I do most of those things, although no hankies — I don’t want boogers in the wash! Elaine, I like the recycling idea. My spouse is anti-it, or I’d do it much more … Peg, that’s a good idea about putting the almost-done tubes into a plastic bag. I cut them open to get out the remains also (it is amazing how much remains!), but haven’t put that into a plastic bag. I will begin doing that …

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