Lots of us grew up with parents or grandparents who experienced the war or the rationing that continued until 1954. You might have been infuriated by their inability to throw anything away, and conviction that it ‘might come in’ for reuse one day.
Paper bags were carefully smoothed out and put away, pieces of string wound up, butter wrappers saved for greasing cake tins on baking day.
That attitude went out of fashion during a few decades of unthinking consumption and disposability. But now we’re all familiar with the Three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – as well as new labels like sustainability and zero waste.
As I go through the slow process of changing habits to cut down on my use of plastic and waste in general, I get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from the reuse and repurposing of bits and pieces that end up in our house and would otherwise go in the recycling box.
Things like pretty cardboard boxes that held chocolates, food tins or unusual shapes of jam jar. Especially if they were gifts, and having polished off the contents I can keep using the container and think of that person whenever I get it out of the cupboard.
There’s something very appealing about tins, either plain or brightly branded. I refilled these Whittards tins with coffee and tea and they give me a boost whenever I put the kettle on.
It took me about 25 minutes with sticky stuff remover to get the label off the little tin. (My bottle has lasted for years but in Zero Waste Home there are instructions for using vinegar instead). Now it’s holding the small spoons that used to fall to the bottom of my cutlery basket and never get used.
Not long ago every kitchen drawer had to have its own built-in dividers, or at least a moulded plastic tray. Lately on fashionable interiors sites I keep seeing old baking tins used as drawer dividers, and the owners enthusing about being able to take them out and carry them to the table!
I don’t have vintage loaf tins in my kitchen drawers, but I do use boxes as dividers to keep groups of things together in my home office drawer. Those tough little cardboard boxes that business cards are delivered in are just the right size to hold earbuds.
Jars and bottles
I especially like Bonne Maman jam jars with their cheerful checked lids, and ones that have a rubber seal and metal swing clip. I save them for presents of healthy roasted nuts and jam jar posies. (Perfect gifts when you’re going to a friend’s for a meal because there’s no fussing about trying to find a vase and fill it with water).
Neal’s Yard blue glass jars and bottles look fresh and pretty in the bathroom. The labels peel off, and I decant my shampoo and boring supermarket bubble bath into them. The large round jar that holds lavender bath salts is the perfect size for storing seven bottles of essential oil.
And then there’s paper, string, ribbon, braid, padded envelopes…anything else?
(Top photo from Kaboompics)