We all know to save our cans and glass jars for recycling day, but are you aware there are other home recycling opportunities that can actually save you money? Before you toss out that pair of old blue jeans or old ladder from the barn, take a look at these creative ways to go green and save.

Clothing that’s too stained or worn to keep in the closet can still be used creatively.

Knitters looking for affordable cashmere can recycle old sweaters by unraveling the yarn for use in other projects. Old blue jeans make great cowboy quilts, braided dog toys and fun daypacks, providing you’re craft capable. Light-colored sheets that have seen one too many Koolaid spills make great raw material for fun tie dye projects that will keep little ones entertained outside on a pleasant day. Other ideas include rag rugs made from old tee shirts, and stitching across the bottoms of your old tank tops to create one-seam fabric grocery bags for the farmers’ market.

Food scraps have more potential than you might think.

The bits and bobs left over from fixing a salad can be tossed in an airtight container and stored in your freezer. When you have enough onion pieces, celery ends and peelings from scrubbed carrots, whip yourself up a batch of homemade soup stock. It’s easy enough to do in the crock pot, virtually free and lets you skip all those ingredients you can’t pronounce on the ingredient list of the store-bought variety.

But the real money saver? Compost. If you have embraced home gardening as one of your frugal food strategies, then you’re already aware how much it costs to purchase plant fertilizer, potting soil for seed starting, and soil amendments in general. Keeping your plant-based food scraps in a container under the sink to empty into the composter when it’s full is a convenient way to turn some of your food garbage into pure gold. While the vegetable matter is breaking down in our compost tumbler, we place a large bucket underneath to catch the “compost tea” that drains out when it rains. This stuff is fantastic for my rosemary bushes, and provides great growing support for at-home gardeners. Of course, when the compost is completely ready, you can turn it over into your garden soil or use it to start seedlings of your favorite herb plants.

Items otherwise destined for the salvage yard may be able to serve a new purpose.

Stylish but worn antique doors make attractive homemade tables when topped with a sheet of glass and attached to a support system. I’ve also seen art galleries where painters used doors from old cupboards with the hardware still attached as a textured alternative to the traditional canvas. They were selling like hotcakes at a country fair. I kid you not.

Another item typically discarded is ladders. Since they are a bit tough to transport anyway without a work truck, consider decorating creatively with old ladders and saving yourself a trip to the dump. They can be turned into plant stands, pot racks and even creative shadow boxes for family mementos. If you are looking for affordable ways to spruce up your bathroom, consider using a freshly-painted ladder with narrow rungs as a creative towel rack. Got an antique picture frame with the glass still inside? Cover the dated artwork inside with a piece of fabric that coordinates with your home’s color scheme. You’ve now got a stylish “white board” all your friends will envy!

Furniture can often have new life in new areas of your home rather than being discarded.

One often-overlooked example is old bureaus. With a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of paint, decorating with old bureaus can save you major dough. Turn a tall, narrow one into linen storage in the hallway of an antique home that’s short on closet space. Got one that’s short and wide? Add some bun feet and a fresh coat of paint for a sofa table that provides multi-purpose storage. Older tables routinely get hauled to the dump as well, which I find unfortunate. Depending on the style, you can fashion one into a makeup vanity, office desk and even a work island when you redecorate your kitchen.

Clearly recycling can mean more than sorting your weekly trash. It can also mean major savings on the home front!

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.