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All Frugalites know how great it feels to get a good deal on something. It might be on sale or a great thrift shop find. However, in this article, I’m going to share another way to save cash: buy something once and then use it twice! With many of these items, I use them twice…and then again and again. I hope you will enjoy these tips and benefit from them in years to come.
Old clothing and towels become rags.
My favorite towel has a rip in it. The towel is over six years old. I’m not quite ready to send it to the rag pile yet, but I know it’s on its way there. My rag pile has a lot of variety: retired dishcloths, cut-up t-shirts, old towels, socks, and much more!
In fact, what I think of as my favorite rag is a very old white towel with a wild rip in it and many rust stains. Whenever I use my foot-operated off-grid laundry machine, that old rag towel is right there to mop up the inevitable water on the bathroom floor. Once anything cloth in my household has worn out its original use, then it is ready to join my rag menagerie. There, it is likely to live out its life for many good years yet!
Food and water containers are reused many ways.
I recently went to visit one of my Aunts and gave her an empty gift. I brought her my empty Epsom salts container. It is a large clear plastic jug with a wide opening on top and a big handle on the side of it. It has a screw-top lid, too. She was absolutely delighted!
Why was she so happy to receive this container with nothing in it? She loves to fill these jugs with birdseed and shake the seed out under some of her trees in the yard. One of my other cousins was also visiting at the time. He proudly told us he fills those same jugs with road salt and shakes them on the ice on his walkway. My goodness, aren’t we a thrifty family?
Every spring, I use a collection of water jugs I have bought over the years. They don’t hold water anymore, though…because I have cut the bottoms off of them. What do I use them for in that condition, you might be wondering? They have become my treasured seedling protectors that save my seedlings from the voles in my garden.
Recyclables start my fires.
Some people just recycle their recyclables, and that’s fine if they don’t have any other use for them. Certainly, in the winter, much of my paper and cardboard recyclables are put to another use: starting my fires in my tiny woodstove.
I split my hardwood into small pieces to use for kindling. I also split softwood lumber scraps left over from my cabin build: they really help my fires get started! So, what comes into the cabin as food packaging or newspapers ends up being a fire starter…and then becomes ashes! (see below)
Wood stove ashes make ice safe and make lye.
I need to clean out my little woodstove every couple of days during the middle of winter. What to do with all those wood ashes? My favorite use is to make my walkway and driveway safe for visitors. Using an old soup can (ha ha, another reuse of recyclables!) I sprinkle the ashes on my icy driveway. I have another favorite use for ashes, too, though: soap making!
Using another cousin’s wood fire ashes from over a few years, I built a lye-making barrel. I used an aluminum garbage can and drilled some holes in the bottom. With layers in the bottom of gravel and straw, I then packed the barrel full of ashes. Pour water in the top and wait for it to percolate through. The barrel sits on a base of cinder blocks so the lye can drip into an enameled pot. If a potato floats in the lye, it is strong enough to make soap with it. So far, all my lye has been great!
These are only two of so many uses of ashes: check out this great Frugalite article to learn more!
Cooking water then waters my plants.
While building my eco-cabin, I lived off-grid without running water for five years. For three of those years, I did not have any water onsite or access to my well. I had to save up for my hand pump. So, I carried every drop of water I used from my Aunt’s home to my car, drove it several kilometers, and then carried it into my tiny home.
What did I learn from doing this? Water is a precious resource…and it can also be reused. While water is “cheap” for many readers today, it may not be so forever. I think it’s strategic to learn how to conserve and reuse water before it’s in short supply. I hope this won’t happen to you, but wouldn’t you prefer to be prepared? So, while you may not save a lot of money today conserving water, it could be very helpful to you one day if you develop some creative habits now.
Some of my own creative habits regarding water include saving any cooking water from steaming my veggies. Once it cools, I either pour it directly on my plants or into my little indoor watering can. Some people might even like to drink this water, as it has a lot of vitamins in it. Do you need to scrub your potatoes? Rather than running the tap down the drain, why not run it into a pot where you can save that water? Raising your awareness of your water use and brainstorming some strategies to conserve it could be valuable to you someday.
Construction scraps built my firewood holder.
After I bought my woodstove, I really wanted to buy a fancy matching firewood holder. The ones I liked were made of black cast iron. They were outrageously expensive at the woodstove store. I needed something right away, so I just built a simple holder out of scrap wood from the eco-cabin construction.
My initial design wasn’t strong enough, but a couple of cross beams on the back did the trick. The cost? Free. For many people, these cut-offs and odds and ends would have gone into their burn pile. Funny, it’s kind of grown on me now. I don’t think I’ll ever replace it!
Want to save cash? Think twice!
There are many ways to reuse items that we might usually overlook. Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty tips offered here? Do you have one of your own “use twice” tips that you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!