Don’t Throw These 11 Things Away…

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As a homesteader or prepper, it’s important to recognize the value in trash. What’s that saying—one man’s trash is another man’s juice jug? Something like that.There are several crucial household items that often—out of laziness or lack of ingenuity—end up in the trash can. While this habit contributes to the nation’s landfills, it also doesn’t allow you, as an expert homesteader, to reap these items’ endless benefits. Read on for eleven commonly tossed items that can be repurposed on your homestead.

  1. Coffee Cans

Almost every homesteader will have to purchase coffee at some point in time. It’s a great way to get yourself going on those chilly October mornings when you want nothing more than to crawl back in bed. Furthermore, it can’t be grown in most northern climates, so buying prepackaged coffee grinds or beans is a must for most preppers.

Don’t hurry to throw out your cans! Aluminum or plastic cans are best for repurposing (cardboard ones tend to rot). Hang onto them and use them to scoop feed for livestock, collect small pieces of hardware or leftover paint, or as extra pantry storage. They can even be used as makeshift planters in the spring!


  1. Pallets

Pallets have gained a lot of popularity for their multipurposing abilities in the last few years (thanks, Pinterest). However, there’s a reason why homesteaders are flocking to the warehouse parking lot in droves. Pallets are excellent to reuse.

Pallets can be broken up and used piecemeal for any project that requires scrap lumber. They can also be used to stack feed bags or other valued items you don’t want getting wet. If you don’t already have access, in most cases, they can be scrounged at little to no cost from lumber companies, hardware supply shops, or farm and garden stores.


  1. Glass Jars

Don’t throw out that old baby food jar quite yet! As long as you make sure to sterilize them, any kind of glass jar can be reused. These could include food jars, mason jars, or bottles that once held wine, beer, or liquor.

If you plan on canning any food inside recycled jars, try to only use those made of tempered glass. Attempting to can food in old pickle or baby food jars could cause spoilage and breakage inside the canner. It’s not fun trying to remove glass shards from hot water!


  1. Shredded Paper or Newspapers

No matter how far back in the woods you live, you’re likely to receive your fair share of junk mail. Don’t toss it in the trash! Shredded paper and newspapers are excellent additions to your farm.

Paper can be added to your compost to help it break down more quickly. It can also be used as animal bedding. It works best for chickens, as pigs or other livestock are more likely to taste it. If you shred glossy paper from magazines or newspapers, keep in mind that it should be mixed in sparingly. Chickens have a hard time walking on glossy paper.


  1. Grass Clippings

Whether you’ve just finished mowing your lawn, or you’re raking leaves in the fall, this type of litter is definitely the good kind. Feed the clippings to your rabbits or chickens and watch them go crazy for the crunchy treats.

If you feed clippings to chickens, just limit how much you give them (they can have a hard time breaking it down). Never, under any circumstances, feed grass clippings to young chicks, as they aren’t developed enough to process it.

survival farm

Don’t have any livestock? Grass clippings can also be added to the compost to help speed up decomposition.


  1. Plastic Containers

If you’re like most people, you’re probably trying to reduce how much plastic your household consumes. If you have leftover milk jugs or even tubs that were used to hold deli meat or ice cream, these can be reused.

Try using tubs to store leftovers or freeze large batches of soups or sauces. Plastic bags can be reused as trash can liners or to organize your closet.


  1. Silica Gel Packets

Have a handful of silica gel packets left over from your last department store purchase? You’re in luck. Silica gel packets can be placed inside a gun cabinet or safe to help control moisture. Moisture wreaks havoc on firearms and ammunition. The silica helps to absorb moisture and moderate the humidity inside the case.


  1. Egg Cartons

If you have chickens, you already know how invaluable egg cartons are to any homesteader. Save any and all egg cartons and collect them from friends and neighbors. Store them in a dry location so they don’t mildew and reuse for multiple seasons. Egg cartons can also be used to store small items such as nails, earrings, or tacks.


  1. Citrus Peels

If you enjoy munching on oranges, lemons, or limes, don’t think the enjoyment has to stop once breakfast is finished. Citrus peels can be recycled to use as zest for various recipes, scents for homemade candles or potpourri, and as cleaning agents.

If you have hard water, a lemon rind (ideally with some remaining juice) is great at removing calcium and lime scale build up. It also smells great and can remove bacteria from dirty surfaces such as countertops and cutting boards. Simply rub the fruit over the surface you wish to clean, and wipe dry.


  1. Fabric Scraps

Pieces of fabric can be repurposed for use in homemade woven rugs. They can also be used to make dish rags or DIY pet collars.


  1. Bones

Roasted a chicken or leg of lamb? Don’t hurry to throw away those bones. When boiled down, used bones make great soup stock. They can then be added to your compost pile for a boost of calcium.


And Finally…

Remember that, at the end of the day, just about anything can be reused or recycled. Any item you can repurpose is a dollar and an effort that can be saved. With a little bit of forward thinking and ingenuity, you’ll be self-sufficient in no time.

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Mark W.
I often explain to people people that prepping has no more to do with a financial collapse, end-of-the-world event or a zombie apocalypse than it does with a simple power outage, earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or even a long-term lay-off. It is about having plenty of food, water and emergency gear on hand that would be necessary to sustain you and your family when you need it most, because it won’t be available otherwise.


    • I got some wild lettuce seeds. Go to, and order from them. I got mine quick, and they very inexpensive! They have a lot of various organic seeds, which I suggest everyone to eat and drink nothing but organic, or at least, as much as you can. You’ll find, within a few weeks to a month, yourself feeling and looking much better! Hope you enjoy that company!

  1. Coffee cans!? I just realized, that even though I kept a 72 hour bob in my car, I had no cook ware. A cse of water, but nowhere to boil it. I added a metal coffee can to my bob, with a lighter and some easy tinder- dryer lint works good. Then I can boil water for a survival meal, and not need the whole camp kitchen in my car.

  2. Growing up in hurricane territory and with a Dad that lived through the Great Depression, we saved everything and reused it. He used coffee cans for his nuts, screws, bolts, nails. In his shed, he used glass jars as containers for the little pieces that somehow show up in a shed or garage. He used pallets. He used all of these things except the fabric, which he saved for my mother’s sewing projects, and gel silica packets because these were never around during his time. But because I live in the sweaty South, I save the gel silica packets and put them in all my drawers, whether it be a hardware drawer, or a clothes drawer, or a whatever drawer. Here’s a 12th item. Eggshells. After using the eggs inside the shell, rinse the empty shells out, let them dry out, then crush them up with a mortar and pestle (I start off with a manual potato masher, then go from there with the mortar and pestle) and put the crushed eggshells around bushes and trees. It is a calcium boost for them.

    • It’s a really good idea to bake the egg shells at a low temp for an hour or so, it kills any bacteria on the egg shells.
      You can also grind them up really fine for human consumption.

  3. Grass Clippings – I do use for Compost & Mulch. If getting from neighbors, don’t we need to be sure it has not been treated with weed killer??
    Coffee Cans – Unfortunately almost all are now plastic. I know of only 1 store with 1 brand that is in a metal can.

  4. Skye, I use a lot of egg shells in my yard and gardens. I tried a lot of ways to crush them, and found a rolling pin seems to do the best job with the least energy. I wash and dry the shells, then I place the hand crushed shells between 2 sheets of paper towels, fold the towels to have a layer above and below the shells. I then crush with the rolling pin by turning the pile of crushed shells inside the towels. When crushed I put the crushed shells in a coffee can until needed. The paper towels in the compost pile. I use a 12X12″ piece of 3/8 plywood to act as the crushing table because it is so easy to clean and loose the smallest amount of crushed shells.

  5. Coffee cans also make a good stove eye when used with charcoal. They can be put out by the simple use of a lid. Fill with charcoal, light and cook.

  6. It would be wonderful if this could be printed and saved without the ads. I realize ads are important and once in a great while I might click on one, but I don’t want to waste paper and ink by printing the ads too.


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