In our disposable society, we often take the things we accumulate for granted. After all, if we damage or break an object, we can just buy another, can’t we? But previous generations were far more frugal, even appreciating the value of stuff that we may today regard as trash. And you too should consider reusing any of these 20 items you may have in your possession – whether for environmental reasons or simply just to save some money.
20. Loose buttons
At some point, you’ve probably put on a piece of clothing only for a button to spring off – and never be seen again. Yet the chances are that your mom or grandmother will have a jar full of possible replacements. And it’s worth you saving buttons, too, in case of future wardrobe malfunctions.
If you like sewing garments from scratch, meanwhile, there’ll likely come a time when you require some buttons to finish the job. Instead of buying a pack online, then, you can turn to the aforementioned jar – and treat yourself to some fabric with the money that you’ve kept in your wallet.
19. Plastic bags
Before canvas tote sacks became a thing, we often had to rely on plastic bags whenever we went out shopping. And, rather shamefully, a lot of these bags went on to be simply thrown in the trash and accumulate in garbage dumps. If you’re still ditching your plastic carriers today, though, then you should probably think again.
After all, if your bags are still in good condition, you can use them on future trips to the store. These carriers will also shield items from potential damage if you’re putting them away in the attic. And, best of all, plastic bags can even stop ice forming on your car’s windshield wipers in the winter.
18. Food scraps
Back in 2014, food website My Heart Beets reported that roughly 30 percent of all the food in America was thrown away. That’s a shocking statistic – especially as leftovers such as meat fat, bones, garlic skin and vegetable tops can all still be very useful in the preparation of meals.
On her blog One Good Thing, Jill Nystul explained more, writing. “Just keep a freezer bag in your freezer and add scraps to it whenever you have them. [Then,] once the bag is full, dump it into your Instant Pot with a few cups of water and some seasonings to cook up a delicious stock!”
17. Soap slivers
When a bar of soap is close to being completely used, that one remaining small piece can be hard to handle. Gather multiple slivers together, however, and you’ll have an entirely new bar. Bits of soap can also be crumbled into laundry as a substitute for detergent.
And did you know that you can stop animals from damaging your backyard with a few slivers of soap? All you need to do is place them inside an aging pair of tights, then tie the legs around a post. That should serve as an easy deterrent to any pesky critters lurking in the area.
16. Old discs
If you like buying physical copies of films and music, there’s a very good chance that your house will be full of discs. When the time comes for a clearout, however, it’s often hard to justify keeping hold of all those DVDs and CDs – and perhaps inevitably, some of them will end up at the garbage dump.
But you don’t need to dispose of the discs in that manner; instead, you can “upcycle” them into something different at home. An unwanted CD could be repurposed as a coaster, for example. That kind of ingenuity would definitely get the seal of approval from your grandparents.
15. Egg cartons
When we purchase eggs at the supermarket, they’re sometimes sold in non-recyclable cartons. And, yes, yet again, these containers are typically thrown in the trash can as a consequence – even though there are so many creative ways in which we are able to reuse them.
If you’re struggling to keep all of your screws and bolts in one place, for example, you can use an egg carton as a makeshift toolbox. The item can also act as a handy palette whenever you need to paint something in the house. If you’ve repurposed all of the cartons you can, however, then consider giving some to local farmers, as they’ll likely need them for the eggs that they produce.
14. Food seeds
So, we’ve already discovered that you can save food scraps in your kitchen for future use. But what about seeds? Can they be kept hold of, too? Well, if you want to ease back on your spending at the supermarket, then discarded seeds from vegetables can be a big help.
You can plant removed tomato seeds in your garden to grow your own, for instance. All you need to do is wash the residue off the seeds, then dry them out for a few days before finally placing them into the soil. Your grandparents would certainly endorse a plan like that.
13. Worn-out fabrics
After we’ve washed and worn our clothes for a while, they often get a little ragged-looking. And when that happens, you’ll probably be tempted to ditch that denim and go out searching for a new pair of jeans. But before you do that, think about taking a leaf out of your grandparents’ book and fix those holes or threadbare areas instead.
“You can apply [that] ‘make-do’ mentality by finding ways to fix or reuse old clothes, towels and bedsheets,” Nystul has suggested on One Good Thing. “You might be able to salvage your favorite pair of jeans with a new zipper! [And] that old sweater may look as good as new after a good de-pilling session.”
12. Empty toilet rolls
Once you’ve finished a toilet roll, you probably just throw it in the recycling bin. That’s after checking there’s no paper left on the cardboard, of course, as it’s a non-recyclable material. But as you may already have guessed, there’s plenty of other potential purposes for that tube.
If you’re frustrated by tangled Christmas lights every festive season, simply tie the cables around a used toilet roll for easier access when you next come to deck the tree. You could also send a few cardboard tubes to a nearby elementary school for use in arts and crafts lessons.
11. Wine corks
Unlike standard lids, wine corks can be pretty tough to open without the right equipment. Once you’ve used your corkscrew, though, what do you do with the stopper itself? Well, as it turns out, it’s a lot more useful than you may suspect – an good excuse, then, to drink more wine…
Yes, surprisingly, wine corks make for good plant markers in your garden. Just write the name of your bloom on the stopper before attaching it to a sturdy stick and placing it in the relevant spot in your yard. If you don’t have a green thumb, however, you can transform your corks into makeshift printing stamps instead.
10. Old containers
There’s a good chance that you’ll have rows of different jars and containers in your kitchen cabinets. But rather than throwing these receptacles out when you’ve finished with their tasty contents, keep hold of them, as they too can be repurposed in handy ways.
Nystul has given some hints, writing, “Many food items come in plastic or glass containers, and those containers can all be reused in hundreds of ways! Use larger jars to store bulk ingredients in your pantry and smaller jars to keep track of screws or nails in the garage.” You can also decorate these items to make them more aesthetically pleasing.
9. Rubber bands
The Environmental Protection Agency has revealed that, shockingly, over 3 percent of the trash Americans discarded in 2017 was comprised of leather and rubber. With that in mind, then, it’s worth considering whether you can give the old rubber bands that are festering in your drawer a new lease of life.
If you’re struggling to open the lid of a jar, for instance, then a rubber band may just help provide you a bit of extra leverage. And if you’ve got hangers that are failing to do the job, just attach some bands to them to keep clothes from sliding off and onto your closet floor.
8. Aluminum foil
If you have any aluminum foil that’s only lightly used, then you can re-employ it to cover leftovers or pre-prepped meals. This versatile material can also be scrunched up and used as a dish scrubber on stubborn, dried-on grime. And if you’re wishing to reduce your plastic use, aluminum foil could stand in as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap.
Rather incredibly, aluminum can even hone a pair of scissors. All you need to do is bend a sheet of foil over on itself a few times before cutting neatly through the folded material. And this process not only revives your tired old scissors, but it also saves you having to shell out for a new pair.
7. Used tea bags
After making a cup of tea, you probably pay little thought to what to do with the bag you’ve used. It may be second nature, in fact, to simply toss it into the trash. Next time you brew up, however, place your tea bag to one side after you’ve done with it, as it too may come in useful.
You see, tea bags can handily treat small burns, swollen eyes and bug bites if they’ve been put into the refrigerator first. They’re also capable of helping your skin after being dropped into bathwater – although we wouldn’t ever recommend that you drink the contents of your tub…
To begin with, you may not see any use for old eggshells. After all, when the contents have been emptied, what else can you do with them? But just for a moment, put yourself in your grandparents’ shoes and think about their response. How would they treat a discarded eggshell?
To help answer that question, Nystul shared her thoughts on One Good Thing. She wrote, “Instead of tossing your eggshells in the trash, save them! After washing and drying them, you can use them for all sorts of things. They make a great fertilizer for your garden while also deterring pests.”
5. Fabric scraps
While you shouldn’t throw out any clothes that just require a simple fix, you also mustn’t overlook other old fabrics that are sitting around the house. You see, these discarded materials – even if tatty and worn – could well be convienient if you need a few pieces of scrap.
Yes, pieces of fabric can be easily be used to spruce up items at home. They could be stitched into a hole-ridden pillow or duvet to help repair them, for instance. And if you’re the crafty type, you can even use scraps to quilt; otherwise, just repurpose them as cleaning rags.
4. Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS)
Remember what we said about rubber waste earlier? Well, you may want to brace yourself for another jaw-dropping figure. According to a 2018 statistic from the organization Earth Day, around 25 billion expanded polystyrene foam – or styrofoam – containers are tossed into the trash every year in the U.S. These items are also non-biodegradable, which makes matters even worse.
You can help stem the flow of discarded EPS, though, by using the material for “packing peanuts” to help pad out fragile boxes. And if you’re of an artistic bent, then this otherwise throwaway plastic can be used to create stencils – for wall decorations, perhaps, or for children’s art projects.
3. Bacon grease
As unlikely as it may sound, bacon grease was collected along with other surplus cooking fats for the manufacture of bombs during WWII. Throughout the Depression, meanwhile, it was used for a rather more innocuous purpose: as a replacement for butter in cooking. And you can revive the practice now by putting bacon grease in your meals for an extra punch of flavor.
But how do you store old grease? Well, firstly, you have to pour it into a bowl or dish that fits inside your refrigerator. Then, after that, you need to seal this container shut in order to preserve the fat. Normally, this process will ensure that the grease is okay to use for a few weeks.
2. Old toothbrushes
You’ll know when your toothbrush needs to be replaced, as the bristles won’t stand up as neatly as they used to. But before you put your old brush in your bathroom trash can, consider whether it’s still in good enough shape to stand up to some other cleaning tasks in your home.
You see, toothbrushes have the ability to get into tight spots, meaning you’ll be able to clean areas that you may have been unable to reach before. And if that wasn’t enough, they can also be used as makeshift shoe shiners before that next job interview or first date.
If you’re a print newspaper subscriber, then there’s a good chance you’ll throw your daily copy away before the next edition even hits your doorstep. Yet while papers can be recycled after leaving your home, they can serve other purposes – and ones that may save you cash, too.
If a friend or family member’s birthday is coming up, for instance, then you can simply wrap their gift with newspaper. The material can also pad out boxes that contain delicate heirlooms, act as a thrifty liner for a pet’s litter tray and even serve as a pretty good insulator.
If you’ve got plenty of old unwanted items hanging around your home, however, then you may want to consider selling them off. And even the most unlikely objects can bring in a surprising amount of money – handy if you’re looking for some spare cash to spruce up your surroundings or simply pay the bills.
If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then eBay is the place to make both men happy. Yes, no matter what junk you’ve got lying around your house, there’s probably someone willing to pay for it. Before you throw out your old cell phone chargers, shoes and towels, then, make sure you aren’t missing an opportunity to make some serious money.
40. Broken crayons
Crayons aren’t exactly the sturdiest artistic medium around, but they are plentiful and cheap. Chances are, then, that your kids will go through quite a few in their early years. But don’t just toss those broken crayons in the trash. Instead, bag them up, weigh them, and pop them on eBay. A thrifty crafter will quickly take them off your hands, because melted crayons have tons of different uses. Indeed, an 8.6-pound bag of mixed colors recently sold for $33.
39. Egg cartons
Yes, you could simply recycle your empty egg cartons. But if you’re willing to put the time in, the seemingly useless packaging can convert to serious cash. That’s because they’re not only great for arts and crafts projects, but also useful to anyone who keeps hens for eggs. So, bundle your cartons together, and watch the money roll in: a stack of 90 sells for up to $59.99.
38. Toilet paper rolls
That’s right: your old toilet roll tubes could well be worth hanging on to. Schoolteachers love them for arts and crafts projects, and are accordingly willing to buy them in bulk. If you can amass a box of 100, you could fetch up to $15 on eBay for them. All you need is somewhere to store them in the meantime.
37. Bottle caps
Whether they’re plastic or metal, bottle caps are basically the definition of junk – to most of us, anyway. To some, however, they’re an invaluable resource, mostly thanks to their wide applications in crafting projects or artwork. And that makes them profitable: a bulk lot of 100 caps can bring in over $7 on eBay.
36. Rewards points
A rewards card can be useful, but only if you really need the specific reward it’s offering. If you don’t, it’s probably a better idea to sell it on. You won’t recoup the full value of the reward, but there are plenty of thrifty shoppers out there looking to save even a few dollars. For instance, a Kroger fuel card with 1,000 points – worth up to $35 – recently sold for $19.99 on eBay.
Much like rewards cards, coupons and gift cards for specific stores can be converted to cash on eBay. Again, you probably won’t sell them for their full value. But if you’re not planning on shopping at that store, anything is better than nothing. Indeed, one savvy eBay user managed to fetch $22 for their $30 Kohls gift card.
34. Empty candle jars
Even if you don’t have any use for candle jars once the wax has melted, someone out there will. That’s because they’re great for crafts projects, or even simply for storage. And that gives them value: so instead of throwing them out, bundle them up and list them online. A lot of eight empty jars can sell for over $19.
33. Old cell phone chargers
Not everyone uses modern smartphones, and that means there’s a market out there for old cell phone chargers. Next time you’re clearing out your junk drawers and come across a mass of cables, then, it’s worth spending a little time untangling them. You won’t strike gold, but working chargers can sell for about $5 each.
32. Product boxes
You might view empty boxes as pointless packaging, but there are collectors out there who’ll pay good money for them. For example, an empty Apple AirPods Pro box recently sold for $17.80. A vintage Matchbox cars box, meanwhile, reached $40 in a fierce eBay bidding war. If nothing else, it’s a great way to recoup some of the cost of the product.
31. Old catalogs
It’s no surprise that vintage catalogs are a hot collector’s item. After all, they’re basically a tangible slice of nostalgia – and that makes them extremely tantalizing to the right bidder. A Cumberland general store catalog from 1999 recently sold for $16.99, for example, while a Volkswagen Van brochure from 1963 fetched a whopping $21.50.
30. Paper shopping bags
Unbranded paper shopping bags aren’t really worth selling online – a lot of 100 sells for a paltry penny. But if they have luxury brands printed on them, the price quickly shoots up. Indeed, a collection of three Victoria’s Secret paper bags recently sold for $12, while a lone Chanel bag went for $7.95.
29. Empty perfume bottles
Finishing a bottle of perfume doesn’t always have to be a downer. In fact, you could even help finance a replacement by selling off the empty bottle – particularly if it’s a luxury brand. For example, a set of three Grenoville perfume bottles sold with their presentation box for an eye-watering $50. And even if you only have generic glass bottles, they can still fetch up to $3 apiece.
Picking up a few pinecones while you’re out and about won’t cost you a thing – but it could bring in big profits. Yes, they’re immensely popular for crafting projects, particularly during the holiday season. If you want to maximize your returns, then, make sure you sell at the right time. If you do, you could bag about $1 per pinecone.
27. Wine corks
The beauty of arts and crafts is that practically any old junk can be made useful again. And that rings just as true for wine corks, which can sell for up to $29.95 for a lot of 300. Depending on how much wine you drink, then, they could take a while to collect. Fortunately, they’re small enough to easily store while you build up a bundle – just make sure your corks are all natural.
26. Back issues of magazines
Rather than tossing your old magazines in the recycling, see if there’s any interest in them online. You might be surprised: a recent eBay auction saw 14 copies of Sports Illustrated, ranging from 1988 through to 1992, sell for $14. Magazines that are particularly sought after, meanwhile, can command a heftier fee. For instance, a Ramones-fronted 2005 issue of music magazine MOJO sold for $7.49.
25. Owner’s manuals
If you’ve still got owner’s manuals lying around for your old vehicles, be thankful you never threw them in the trash. After all, if a used car doesn’t come with a manual, the buyer is going to want to track one down. And that means they can fetch a tidy sum on eBay. Indeed, a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 manual from 2001 currently sells for up to $52.95, while a 2014 Ford F150 manual recently sold for $22.
24. Installation CDs
Remember when you had to install software using a CD? Well, apparently some people still do. Yes, it might sound preposterous, but there’s seemingly a market out there for this ancient relic of technology. In fact, according to Country Living magazine in 2017, installation disks for printers, operating systems and other miscellaneous software can fetch anywhere from $3 to $16.
23. Broken appliances
If you don’t have the time, patience or ability to fix your broken kitchenware, don’t throw it out. The odds are good that someone out there will be able to fix it, or at least use the parts. And they’ll therefore pay good money for what’s effectively a discounted appliance. For example, a Moccamaster coffee-maker listed as “only for parts” was recently snapped up for $119.99 on eBay.
22. Junk drawer contents
Can’t be bothered sorting out your junk drawer and selling everything individually? No worries: just pop the whole thing on eBay. It might sound ridiculous, but that’s exactly what one savvy seller did in 2017. Astonishingly, they managed to fetch an incredible $234.99 for their random assortment of belt buckles, pins and pocket knives.
21. VHS tapes
Still clinging onto your old VHS tapes? It might be time to let go of the long-defunct format – especially when they can make you so much money. The tapes are a veritable goldmine for collectors, with single films selling for up to $30. And if you happen to be sitting on a rare Disney classic, it could fetch up to $1,000. Indeed, that’s how much a Black Diamond edition of The Little Mermaid sold for in January 2020.
20. Cassette tapes
Much like VHS tapes, cassette tapes have apparently been around long enough to come back into fashion. Indeed, artists regularly sell limited edition cassette tapes of their latest albums. And, in turn, classic cassettes are now pretty valuable. In January 2020, for instance, a vintage copy of Meat Is Murder by The Smiths sold for $15.
19. Partial gift cards
Your gift card doesn’t need to have a full balance to do well on eBay. If you’ve bought everything you want from a certain store, then, you can always sell the rest of the balance for cash. Generally, you should expect to shift the card for between 60 and 80 percent of its remaining value.
18. Empty wine bottles
While you’re keeping your old wine corks to sell on, you may as well keep the bottles, too. Just like the corks, they’re popular among the crafting community, but the bottles are also advertised as display items. Once you’ve got a dozen together, sell them as an assorted bundle – they should fetch about $25 on eBay.
17. Empty makeup containers
If you’re a frequent customer at MAC Cosmetics, you’ll probably know that the company offers a free lipstick – worth roughly $17 – when you return six empty makeup containers. If you’d rather have the cash, though, you can always turn to eBay. A set of seven containers, advertised specifically for the “Back to MAC” program, recently sold for $12.99.
16. Old software
If you have old disks sitting around in your junk drawer, it’s worth checking what they sell for on eBay. Previous iterations of current software are still popular, presumably because they can be had cheaper than the updated versions. For instance, a Microsoft Office 2007 sotfware suite recently sold for $19.99, while a disk and key for Adobe Photoshop 7.0 can fetch as much as $80.
Nobody’s advocating selling off your prized mementos. But if you have old trophies that carry no sentimental meaning, you could do worse than listing them on eBay. The crafting crowd will snap them up, because they’re easy to recycle into other objects, such as cake toppers. As a result, a large trophy can sell for as much as $40, according to Country Living in 2017.
14. Empty videogame cases
As the years go by, we’re all prone to losing the odd disk here and there. And you may have subsequently found yourself with a stack of empty video game cases. But don’t throw them away – they’re a popular item on eBay, presumably as replacements for buyers who have rogue disks, but no cases. For example, a bundle of six empty PlayStation 3 game cases recently sold for $9.99.
13. Empty printer ink cartridges
Brand new ink cartridges can be expensive, but with the right knowhow, you can refill a used printer cartridge for a fraction of the cost. Of course, you’ll need the used cartridge to do so – and that means there’s a market for them. If you’re not bothered about refilling yours, then, you may as well sell them to someone who is. After all, a lot of 13 empty Hewlett Packard (HP) cartridges sold for almost $46 in January 2020.
12. Incomplete board games
Sure, your old Monopoly set may be missing a couple of hotels. And Clue hasn’t been the same since you lost the rope. But that doesn’t mean you need to throw those games out. It may be that someone has their own piecemeal version they’re looking to complete, or is happy to play a modified version of the game. Indeed, that would explain how an incomplete copy of Clue: The Office Edition recently sold for $44.99.
11. Damaged sweaters
Devastated that your sweaters are no longer fit to even donate to charity? Well, someone might yet buy them from you instead – even if it’s just for the material. Yes, you’ll want to try listing them under eBay’s fabrics category for maximum returns. If you do, you can expect to fetch about $15 for four damaged cashmere sweaters.
10. Old cell phones
You may find it hard to believe, but the cell phone you were using ten years ago is now considered a collectible. Yes, the original iPhone can still fetch more than $70 on eBay. If you somehow still have a boxed version lying around, though, you really do have a goldmine on your hands. And it doesn’t even need to be sealed – a mint first generation iPhone sold for $853 in January 2020.
9. Baby food jars
Just like empty candle jars, baby food jars are useful materials for arts and crafts projects. They can subsequently fetch up to a dollar apiece on eBay, so it’s worth holding onto them until you’re ready to sell. And as you can buy a ten-pack of full jars from the grocery store for less than $10, you may even end up making a profit.
8. Used golf balls
Golf can be an expensive hobby to pick up, so you won’t be surprised to learn that there’s a strong market for cheaper equipment. And that doesn’t just mean clubs, but golf balls, too. Indeed, a collection of 52 near-mint golf balls recently sold on eBay for $38.99. If your garage is full of long-forgotten sporting equipment, then, you could be in the money.
7. Worn-out shoes
It may sound incredible, but there really are people out there shopping for well-worn shoes. In fact, a quick search online brings up multiple completed listings – including a pair that sold in January 2020 for a whopping $70. Next time you’re ready to throw your old shoes away, then, consider throwing them on eBay instead.
6. Old dinner sets
If you’ve got a full or even partial dinner set that’s gathering dust, it’s worth checking the brand. Some of them can go for good money on eBay, including Denby, Portmeirion and Royal Doulton. For instance, a set of four vintage Royal Doulton plates from 1999 sold for $24.99 at auction in January 2020.
5. Broken kettles
Just as people will pay well for broken coffee machines, they’ll also cough up the dough for broken kettles. And that’s certainly the case for kettles that were of particularly high quality when fully operational. Indeed, buying and repairing a broken kettle can be a cheap way to get a high-end product. If you have no interest in repairing yours, then, consider selling it on.
4. Old towels
If you’re investing in a fresh set of towels, don’t immediately throw the old ones away. First, check whether they’ll sell on eBay. Yes, as long as they’re high-quality towels, then someone may well take them off your hands. In January 2020, for example, a pair of used Frette towels sold for almost $80.
3. Used eyeglasses
Most of us refresh our eyewear every few years, but few of us probably think to sell our old glasses. In fact, that’s exactly what we should be doing, because there are plenty of people willing to pay for them. That’s especially true if they’re designer brands that can be repurposed, but even regular old glasses can sell well. For instance, production companies regularly use eBay to find cheap props for movies – and that includes eyeglasses.
2. Used dentures
As gross as it sounds, people really will buy your old dentures online. That’s predominantly because many older dentures used precious metals for fillings or crowns, and buyers can extract these valuable materials to sell on. However, some buyers may simply be looking for a cheaper alternative to brand new dentures, which can range anywhere from $2,000 up to $15,000 and beyond.
It may be time to search your attic for the toys of your youth – today, nostalgia sells. For the proof, look no further than Furbies: in June 2019, the Tiger Special Millennium Edition Furby sold for over $4,500 on eBay. Regular Furbies, meanwhile, still sell for between $15 and $50. If you’re willing to cash in on your childhood, then, you stand to make a pretty penny.