by Emily Mandaville

At Sustainable Capitol Hill, we value the principle of reuse as a cornerstone of sustainable living. While recycling plays a crucial role, many items around the house aren’t recyclable.

There are a variety of ways you can utilize DIY projects to extend the life of the things you already own. From mending and reusing clothing to repurposing packaging and plastic bottles for crafts around the house, here are some ways to creatively limit waste.

Fabric Revival
The United States produces a shocking 17 million tons of textile waste every year. Although donating old clothes helps, many fabric items still end up discarded due to stains, holes, or wear and tear. Extend the life of textiles through these creative solutions:

  • Learn to Sew:
    • Mending and altering your clothes can significantly extend their life cycle. Adding a patch or stitching up a torn seam is an indispensable skill you can use to help both you and the people around you hold onto your clothes for longer. Sustainable Capitol Hill Tool Library offers sewing machines and fabric scissors to get you started and holds regular mending and sewing events
  • Make Rags:
    • Give old t-shirts and towels a second life by turning them into versatile rags for cleaning counters and replacing paper towels.
  • DIY Makeup Remover Pads:
    • Make-up wipes can be expensive and contribute to daily waste. Swap disposable makeup wipes for DIY cotton rounds made with repurposed fabric and paired with micellar water.
  • DIY beeswax wraps:
    • Utilize extra cotton fabric and beeswax to craft eco-friendly beeswax wraps at home. Consider this guide for your project and stop by Capitol Hill Tool Library to pick up a candle wax melting pot to get you started

Repurposing Food Scraps

  • Start a Compost:
    • Having a compost in your kitchen is a great way to repurpose food scraps and other compostable items like paper towels, coffee filters, and parchment paper. Plus, the City of Seattle includes a composting bin and pick-up service with every household garbage can!
  • Make Veggie Broth:
    • Collect vegetable scraps and store them in a bag in your freezer. Once it’s full, boil them on the stove to create a flavorful homemade veggie broth.

Arts and Crafts

  • Reuse your Cardboard:
  • DIY Paper:
    • Learn to make paper using excess mail items or other scrap paper. This one will take a little longer to learn and requires specific paper-making screens, but the project can be both fun and rewarding!
  • Make Plastic Bottle Planters:
    • Making DIY planters with old plastic bottles can replace the need for a trip to the store for new plastic pots. Here’s an easy guide on how to do this yourself!

Other ideas?

What is your favorite creative reuse project? Do you have any special tips, tricks, or skills you’d like to share on how to get a little scrappy with our scraps? Share your favorite creative reuse projects with us at outreach@sustainablecapitolhill.org. Consider hosting a workshop or helping us brainstorm ideas for our next community events.

Consider joining our monthly mending circles, repair cafes, or kombucha-making workshops. Check our calendar for up-to-date information on upcoming events and workshops! We look forward to your creative contributions and hope to see you soon!