October 16, 2010

I'm a cheap thrifty Indian, so I end up reusing and recycling by default. This works out especially well since I'm living a solo life in hotel/dorm off of my parents earnings (grad student = no money, brown kid = parents pay anyway .. it works out).

I do the usual save the butter and yogurt containers and use in lieu of Tupperware. But I've also adapted a few other throw-aways into household items. If you're a broke college student, or just plain cheap thrifty, like me, here are a few ideas you can incorporate:

1. Soup tin can as a pencil holder. I'm talking about the kind of cans where you pull a tab and pop the lid off - it's safer than the ones you cut open with a can opener. Make sure to rinse the can clean and take off the wrapper (make sure to cut out any box-top labels that might be on there..drop it off at your grocery store the next time you go in). You can leave is plain like I have or decorate the can with comics/cutouts from old cards/gift wrapping paper/etc. Now you don't have to go out and buy a $10 lamp with a pen holder that can only accommodate 4 pens.
You can vary things up by using tomato paste and pasta sauce cans for different sizes. You can even use Pringles or Lays chips plastic cans and use it in the same way. Just make sure the cut edges aren't sharp or jagged or you'll end up hurting yourself every time you go for a pen.

2. I don't have a proper kitchen, ergo, I don't have any utensil drawers. Soup cans, Pringles and Lays containers could work here as well. But I'm avoiding chips so I went with the Styrofoam cup I had from a trip to McDonald's (it was a diet drink!). I keep my kitchen scissors, forks, spoons, spatulas, etc. in the cup. It's a handy way to keep things organized and contained in a limited space.

3. I've been eating a lot of Healthy Choice frozen meals lately. They come in convenient little plastic containers which I've ended up using in many different ways. They're great as a basket for the potpourri mix, for the keys and misc items you need to grab on your way out the door, as a drawer organizer and on the dresser for your make up, jewelry and other items. I use the small cups that the applesauce comes in to keep my jewelry, lip glosses, and loose change. Use your imagination and see where else you can use the plastic containers in lieu of baskets, boxes, etc.. They're compact and come in neutral colors of black and clear so it's not jarring to any decor/theme you might have going in your place.


4. Another great recyclable is an egg carton. The individual pockets are perfect for storing pairs of earrings. Slip it in a drawer and close the lid to have a great storage and organization system for your jewelry. Again, feel free to decorate with magazine cutouts/wrapping paper/etc..

5. Plastic bags are considered evil these days. It doesn't matter which shop you go in to, they are all selling alternative paper and cloth bags to take your purchases home in. That's dandy, but it doesn't work for me since I usually buy in bulk and would need about 20 of those (not free) bags to take my things home. Plastic works just fine for me. But I do reuse them as garbage bags. Why buy a box of plastic bags to throw out my garbage in when I have a whole bunch (to the point where an entire corner or my room is dedicated to the bags) at my disposal for free. Use the bags to wrap breakable items such as glasses when you're packing, or to seal liquids and lotions to avoid messes in your suitcase on the off-chance something leaks.
Did I mention I don't have a real kitchen? I also don't have a real back-splash behind my table-turned-kitchen counter and skillet = all-purpose stove. So I taped up a few plastic bags to avoid stains on the wall from the inevitable splashes cooking results in.

6. Shoe boxes are awesome! They can be used to store anything that'll fit in them. Tennis balls, socks, cards, receipts, extra stationary, extra anything. They also make great medicine boxes - pack up bandages, gauzes, ointments, etc. and keep on hand. Since most medicines and ointments have a shelf-life, limiting your purchase to what will fit in your box will ensure you always have only fresh supplies on hand.