How To

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How to repurpose items for new and useful purposes

The "reduce, reuse and recycle" movement has grown increasingly popular as more men, women and children look to adopt eco-friendly lifestyles. By considerably cutting back on waste, people are doing their part to reduce the size of landfills, safeguard natural habitats and keep neighborhoods and local communities clean.

Municipal public works organizations may have recycling programs in place that make it convenient for residents to recycle items by placing them at the curb for pickup. But prior to putting items out for recycling, people can investigate if it's possible to reuse an item in a new way. The following are some creative ways to repurpose items around the house.

• Transform shirts into shopping totes. With some modest sewing skills, you can turn an old shirt into a reusable shopping tote.  Seal the bottom of the shirt securely. You may want to slip a piece of cardboard in the bottom to make it more durable. Then either sew or tie the sleeves of a shirt to make handles.

• Craft can bird feeders. Cut a sturdy can in half and punch holes into either end. String rope through the holes and tie to create a hanger. Place in a tree branch and watch the birds stop by for a treat.

• Design unique planters. Just about any vessel can be turned into a pot to house a plant. From teapots to cups to mason jars, items can be cleverly transformed to display greenery.

• Sew a pocket organizer. Before you discard old jeans that are torn or no longer fit, remove the square of fabric surrounding the back pocket. When you have several denim squares, sew them together to make a hanging pocket organizer to hold everything from small toys to crafting tools. Old jeans also can be turned into knapsacks and doll clothes.

• Turn old books into shelves. Rather than placing books on shelves, make the books the shelves! With a few shelving brackets and some sturdy, hardcover books, you now have interesting shelves to display other items. Ladders and even old folding chairs also can be repurposed as shelves.

• Turn doors into décor. Old doors can be put to use all over the house. Attach legs and transform a door into a coffee table. Secure a door to a wall and it instantly becomes a piece of art. Take out a door frame and use it to hold a mirror. Plus, doors can be used to craft headboards and footboards for beds.

When thinking creatively, you can find many ways to breathe new life into items that may be on their way to the trash or recycling bins.