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    10 Things Homesteaders Should Never Throw Away

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    10 Things Homesteaders Should Never Throw Away

    Did you know that in 2014, the EPA estimated that the average American produced 0.371 pounds of food waste per day? That adds up to about 135lbs per person/per year. Multiply that by how many adults or young adults live in your home and wowza–that’s a lot of food that could have been used towards something useful and beneficial around the homestead.

    The same goes for plastic, glass, cardboard, and all other sorts of waste us humans create on a daily basis. There are smarter things we could be doing with all of that trash other than dumping them in our local or personal landfills.

    We’re going to show you how to turn your homestead trash into DIY treasure using the most common materials we tend to toss out!

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    1. Food Scraps

    Let’s pretend you didn’t just say “duh” upon reading this title, and allow me to broaden your food waste horizons with a couple fresh ideas when it comes to recycling food scraps.

    • Use as Garden Fertilizer: Eggshells, banana peels, coffee grounds and more can be ground up and used directly as plant fertilizer. Here’s a guide.
    • Regrow your Veggies & Herbs: When you cut off the end of a celery stalk or a head of lettuce, save it! You can place it in water to regrow it. Check it out.
    • Compost for Healthy Soil: If you’re not already composting, you’re missing out on the opportunity to create nutrient-dense soil for planting. Have a look.

    2. Animal Bones

    Leftover animal bones are versatile beyond belief, yet we don’t even scratch the surface when it comes to reusing them! Get primitive–caveman style–and start thinking about how you can use those leftover bones to your advantage.

    • Make Stock and Broth: Why not save those bones and make a rich pork stock, comforting chicken broth, or tasty duck drippings? Simmer all day and fill your house full with yummy smells using this simple method.
    • Toss them in the Woods: Save space in the landfill. Instead, throw those bones directly into the woods and let the critters and soil take care of them. Do beware, however, of what unwanted visitors you may attract depending on your region.
    • Primitive Weapons: Looking for a new hobby? You can make knives and knife handles out of big game bones such as elk, moose, buffalo, and bear. Here’s a tutorial.
    • Feed Leftover Bones to your Animals
      • Pigs can devour even the biggest animal bones
      • Chickens will peck at a bone and its cartilage until dry. Afterwards, the bones can compost in their pen.
      • Dogs can handle larger bones just fine but there are different schools of thought when it comes to feeding chicken bones to dogs, as chicken bones have a tendency to splinter.

    3. Old Clothes & Rags

    Kids outgrow their outfits, spill on their white dresses, and wear holes in just about everything. Before you chuck that tattered T-shirt or stained socks,, check out the many ways you can upcycle your clothes!

    For tons more ideas on how to upcycle your t-shirts and socks, go here!

    4. Fruit and Veggie Seeds

    Whether you’re drying the seeds out for a tasty little snack or preparing them to replant, the effort is totally worth the reward.

    Get a good paring knife and watch the following tutorials on how to harvest and dry these particular seeds.

    Honestly… the list goes on forever. Go on a YouTube hunt and see for yourself!

    5. Plastic & Glass Bottles

    It’s outrageous that some areas of the western world still haven’t figured out how to properly recycle plastic and glass. Even proper recycling facilities end up with waste from some plastics that can’t be recycled.

    The good news is, there are lots of fun and creative ways you can reuse plastic bottles and glass bottles around the homestead!

    Plastic Bottles:

    Want to see more ways to upcycle your plastic bottles? Here’s a link!

    Glass Bottles:

    Have a look at some more ways to upcycle glass bottles here.

    6. Cardboard Anything

    If you homeschool your children, have creative kids that like to craft, or love to upcycle yourself, then you should absolutely be saving all things cardboard! From simple holiday crafts to heavy-duty project, cardboard is a versatile material to keep around.

    Kids’ Crafts:

    Home Décor


    The cardboard crafts never end!

    P.S. You can also compost cardboard

    7. Coffee Filters and Tea Bags

    Coffee filters and tea bags are often overlooked as one-use items, but they hold a lot of potential for repurposing around the homestead.

    • Compost Material: Both coffee filters and used tea bags are excellent additions to your compost pile, adding nitrogen-rich material that helps break down compost more efficiently.
    • Seed Starters: Use them to germinate seeds. The filters and bags retain moisture and allow roots to easily break through.
    • Natural Cleaning Scrubs: They can be used as gentle scrubbers for cleaning dishes or countertops without scratching the surface.
    • Deodorizers: Fill used tea bags with baking soda and place them in refrigerators, shoes, or drawers to absorb odors.

    8. Egg Cartons

    Egg cartons, whether made from cardboard, paper, or styrofoam, have a plethora of uses beyond holding eggs.

    • Seed Starters: Perfect for starting seeds indoors. The compartments keep seeds separate and can be easily cut apart to plant in the ground, minimizing root disturbance.
    • Organizers: Use them to organize small items such as screws, beads, or seeds.
    • Fire Starters: Fill the compartments with dryer lint and wax for an easy, effective fire starter for wood stoves or campfires.
    • Sound Insulation: Paper-based egg cartons can be used as a free way to dampen sound in a room, making them great for workshops or home recording studios.

    9. Jars and Lids

    Jars of all sizes, especially those that food products come in, are incredibly useful items that should never be tossed out.

    • Storage Solutions: They can be used to store leftovers, homemade preserves, or bulk-purchased foods. Their airtight seals keep food fresh longer.
    • DIY Candles: Old jars can be repurposed into beautiful, custom candles.
    • Decorations: Decorate them to create unique, homemade vases or lanterns.
    • Organizational Tools: Use jars to organize craft supplies, nails, screws, and other small items in your workshop.

    10. Used Cooking Oil

    Many overlook the potential of used cooking oil, discarding it after one use, but it has several beneficial uses around the homestead.

    • Make Soap: Used cooking oil can be filtered and then used as a base for making homemade soap.
    • Lubricant: It can serve as a lubricant for squeaky hinges or rusty metal parts.
    • Pest Control: Mixed with dish soap, it can become an effective pest deterrent for garden plants.
    • Biofuel: With the right equipment, it can be processed into biodiesel for fueling diesel engines.

    By considering these additional items as resources rather than waste, homesteaders can further reduce their environmental impact, save money, and enrich their self-sufficient lifestyle.

    Taking on just a few of these upcycle and recycle habits will have an immediate impact on the environment while also adding value to your homestead. The cherry on top: these methods will also save you tons of money over time!

    Save yourself the trip to the local landfill where you are charged by weight, quit purchasing frilly household items and toys when you can make them at home, and spend a bit less cash at the market shopping for food to feed your family and your animals.

    The next time you go to toss something in the trash, I bet you’ll think back to this article.

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      2 thoughts on “10 Things Homesteaders Should Never Throw Away”

      1. We use our large cardboard pieces as weed barrier in the garden…put it down in the early fall, cover it with compost and by spring you are ready to plant. Be sure to use a divet to dry thru any cardboard remaining.
        We also use our toilet paper rolls for seed starting. Makes a longer tube for better roots and will compost away.


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