10 Things You Should Never Throw Away


Toilet Paper Tubes

An empty toilet roll can become a hairband organizer or even a planter. Mona Makela/iStock/Thinkstock
An empty toilet roll can become a hairband organizer or even a planter. Mona Makela/iStock/Thinkstock

When American brothers Clarence and E. Irvin Scott invented the toilet paper roll in 1890, they created more than a convenient way to dispense an indispensable product; they ignited our collective obsession with the humble cardboard toilet paper tube [source: McRobbie]. For children, a handful of toilet paper tubes is fodder for hours of fun in the form binoculars, rockets, submarines — and that's without the addition of paper towel tubes.

They have adult uses too. Instead of throwing out those cardboard tubes, put them to work around the house with the following brilliant ideas [sources: Reader's Digest, Real Simple]:

  • Stuff a bunch of plastic grocery bags inside a paper towel tube to make a handy dispenser.
  • Organize hair bands and hair clips in the bathroom by wrapping them around a toilet paper tube.
  • Keep extension cords from getting tangled by folding them neatly inside a paper towel tube.
  • Keep holiday lights from tangling in storage by wrapping them around the outside of a paper towel roll and taping down the end.
  • Safely store important documents like diplomas and birth certificates by rolling them up inside paper towel rolls.

For lots more tips for giving new life to old stuff, check out the related links below.

Author's Note: 10 Things You Should Never Throw Away

I'm a tosser. Not in the British slang sense, but because I tend to toss things away rather than dream up creative ways to reuse them. I'm also a middle-class American, which means I carry around considerable guilt over the towering pile of non-biodegradable trash I send to the landfill each year. I try to recycle as much as possible, but I admit that there are days — let's call them weekdays — in which I'd rather throw something away than go through the trouble of washing it and storing it away with the hope that it will one day be repurposed into a homemade child's toy or ironic cocktail coaster. This is why I don't hang out on Pinterest.

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  • Breyer, Melissa. "19 Clever Uses for Rubber Bands." Treehugger. Oct. 23, 2012 (July 19, 2014) http://www.treehugger.com/cleaning-organizing/19-clever-uses-for-rubber-bands.html
  • Ewing, Monica. "Wine cork bath mat." Craft Nest. March 24, 2010 (July 19, 2014) http://www.craftynest.com/2010/03/wine-cork-bath-mat/
  • Gordon, Whitson. "10 DIY Miracles You Can Accomplish with a $1 Binder Clip." Lifehacker. July 21, 2012 (July 19, 2014) http://lifehacker.com/5927857/top-10-diy-miracles-you-can-accomplish-with-a-1-binder-clip
  • McRobbie, Linda Rodriguez. "Toilet Paper History: How America Convinced the World to Wipe." Nov. 7, 2009 (July 19, 2014) http://mentalfloss.com/article/23210/toilet-paper-history-how-america-convinced-world-wipe
  • National Conference of State Legislatures. "State Plastic And Paper Bag Legislation: Fees, Taxes And Bans; Recycling And Reuse." Feb. 2014 (July 19, 2014) http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/plastic-bag-legislation.aspx#bans
  • Puhala, Kelly. "20 Quirky Ways to Use Wine Corks." Brit + Co. Oct. 3, 2013 (July 19, 2014) http://www.brit.co/wine-cork-roundup/
  • Reader's Digest. "12 Extraordinary Uses for Rubber Bands" (July 19, 2014) http://www.rd.com/home/12-extraordinary-uses-for-rubber-bands/
  • Reader's Digest. "18 Incredible Uses for Cardboard Tubes" (July 19, 2014) http://www.rd.com/home/18-incredible-uses-for-cardboard-tubes/
  • Real Simple. "50 All-Time Favorite New Uses for Old Things" (July 19, 2014) http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/new-uses-for-old-things/favorite-new-uses-00000000019718/index.html
  • Reynolds Kitchens. "Aluminum Foil" (July 19, 2014) http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/products/aluminum-foil/
  • Stimpson, Jennifer. "10 Uses for Aluminum Foil." This Old House (July 19, 2014) http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20225533_20509123,00.html
  • Stimpson, Jennifer. "10 Uses for Wine Corks." This Old House (July 19, 2014) http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,20176738,00.html
  • Surfrider Foundation. "Rise Above Plastics" (July 19, 2014) http://www.surfrider.org/programs/entry/rise-above-plastics#program-resources
  • Trover, Sara Rae. "Uses for the Ever Wonderful Plastic Squeeze Bottle." Apartment Therapy. Nov. 13, 2008 (July 19, 2014) http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/uses-for-wonderful-plastic-squ-69471
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Electronics Donation and Recycling" (July 19, 2014) http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm


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