Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve probably heard this saying hundreds of times before, but do you know what it really means? The three R’s are used to explain the importance of cutting down on waste, finding new uses for old things, and recycling those items that can no longer be used. Ideally, it is best to prioritize reducing waste first, followed by reusing it, and then finally, recycling it.

Let’s pay close attention to that middle R: reuse. How can you start to reuse more items around your house so you don’t have to recycle as much waste? Follow these tips:


If you still get the newspaper, you know firsthand just how much paper you toss into your recycling bin on a daily basis. Instead of recycling the newspaper, try to reuse it within your home. How? Stuff newspaper inside shoes or handbags that are being put in storage to help the items retain their shape while not in use. Now that we’re about to enter winter, newspaper can be used to cover your prized plants when the temperatures drop. Or, keep them around for after the holidays, where you can use newspaper to wrap up your Christmas ornaments before you store them. Be creative with how you use newspaper to reduce the amount you have to recycle everyday.

Scrap Paper

Did you accidentally print something you don’t need? Or did the printer run out of ink halfway through the print job, leaving your document blurry and illegible? Instead of recycling every bit of scrap paper that you have, keep all of the paper in a neat pile in your home office or kitchen. The next time you are on a business call and need to take notes or standing in your kitchen writing a grocery list, grab a piece of scrap paper instead of reaching for a fresh sheet.

Dryer Sheets

When your laundry is dry, take out the dryer sheets and stack them in your laundry room so you can reuse them later. How can dryer sheets be reused? Believe it or not, dryer sheets are perfect for removing dead bugs from your car’s windshield or soap scum from your bathtub. The slight texture on dryer sheets can scrub surfaces without leaving scratches behind, so they are often more effective than paper towels. You should also keep dryer sheets around to remove static from pantyhose, hats, and any other items that may cling to you. Who knew these tiny sheets could have so many other uses?

Plastic Grocery Bags

Although you should always bring your own reusable grocery bag to the store, if you do end up with plastic bags, at least keep them around instead of immediately recycling them. Use these bags as a trashcan liner for small garbage bins in your bedrooms and bathrooms. If you travel a lot, pack your shoes in plastic bags to prevent them from rubbing up against your clothes in the suitcase. Plastic bags are also great for picking up after your dog on a long walk. There are endless opportunities to reuse plastic bags, so if you ever get stuck with them, store them in an empty tissue box and keep them handy.

Although recycling is an eco-friendly way of disposing of waste, it is always best to try to reduce or reuse waste first. With these tips, reusing common items around your house just got a little easier!