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Butter wrappers, bacon grease, paper towel rolls, broken dishes, old clothes, old furniture, old makeup brushes...everyone has at least a few of the above lying around. And Ecosalon has an excellent list of 16 creative ways to turn the above, and more, from trash into treasure. Or if not treasure, at least find a new use for it before it finally heads to the dump.

"Upcycling" refers to the act of taking something disposable and turning it into something of greater use and value—instead of throwing it out. A few highlights from the Ecosalon list:

- Turn old fabric into Japanese-style wrapping paper. I just returned from Japan, where shops sold strips of wrapping fabric for up to $40 each. The fabric is tied around gifts, and was even used to wrap a spare toilet paper roll in the townhouse where we stayed. Very cute!

- Turn cardboard paper towel tubes into cord tidies. If you don't have a tangle of cords anywhere in your house, I salute you. But if you do, then this is a perfect quick-fix solution. You could even paint the tube black, white, or a color to either camouflage it or give it some personality.

- Turn coffee grounds into fertilizer. Coffee grounds can add healthy nitrogen to your garden's soil.

- Turn empty bottles into vases. Wine bottles are an obvious choice, but mason jars, jam jars, and more can make for cute vases and pots for your home, office, or a friend.