Never Throw These Away! – Ask a Prepper

by Tommy Grant

One of the top skills of self-sufficiency and prepping is to be resourceful by thinking about how you can repurpose items to get as much use out of them as possible.

Not only does this help you to save money, it also helps you to become less wasteful and more thoughtful and creative about how you can use the everyday items around you in more ways than one.

With that in mind, here are the top items that you should think twice about throwing away:

Aluminum Foil

You can create reflective shelters or signaling devices by wrapping aluminum foil around objects, repurpose it as a cooking surface for baking or grilling food over open flames, or use it as a reflective surface for signaling aircraft or rescue teams.

Prescription Pill Bottles

You can use empty prescription pill bottles as waterproof containers for storing matches or fire-starting materials, repurpose them as portable first aid kits by filling them with essential medical supplies like bandages and antiseptic wipes, or use them as seed storage containers for preserving vegetable and medicinal herb seeds.

Banana Peels

Never Throw These Away!Banana peels, often discarded without a second thought, are rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and vitamins. One of the simplest ways to repurpose them is as a natural fertilizer.

By burying chopped banana peels around plants, they release nutrients gradually, enriching the soil.

Additionally, their high potassium content makes them excellent compost material, aiding in the decomposition process.

Bottle Caps

You can use bottle caps to create makeshift fishing lures by attaching them to fishing lines, repurpose them as reflective markers for marking trails, or fashion them into DIY traps for catching insects or small game.

Candle Wax

Once cooled, leftover wax can be melted down and poured into new candle molds, minimizing waste and extending the life of your candles. Its melting point makes it ideal for preventing rust on outdoor tools when applied as a protective coating.

Related: DIY Candle Lantern From a Soda Can

You can also create waterproof matches by dipping the match heads in melted wax and allowing them to dry, shielding the matches from moisture. In times of emergency or survival situations, waterproof matches can be a lifesaver, and candle wax provides an accessible solution to create them.

Cardboard Tubes

Cardboard tubes, commonly found in household items like toilet paper or paper towel rolls, can easily be used as seed starters for gardening. Filled with soil and planted with seeds, the cardboard tubes provide a biodegradable container that can be directly planted into the ground, minimizing transplant shock to young seedlings.

Citrus Peels

One of the simplest ways to utilize citrus peels is for homemade cleaners. Infusing vinegar with citrus peels creates a powerful, all-natural cleaner that effectively cuts through grease and grime.

Never Throw These Away!

Additionally, dried citrus peels can be ground into a powder and used as a zesty seasoning or flavor enhancer in cooking and baking.

Their natural oils also make them effective insect repellents when placed strategically around the home or garden.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds, rich in nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, offer a valuable resource for your garden. When added to compost bins or directly to soil, coffee grounds enrich the earth, promoting healthy plant growth and improving soil structure.

For those who are serious about growing a survival garden that will get you through tough times, I strongly recommend this comprehensive guide. It offers invaluable insights and practical advice for transforming your backyard into a self-sustaining homestead.

Tea Bags

Beyond their primary function, tea bags offer a range of versatile applications. One notable use is for soothing minor injuries or skin irritations; the tannins found in tea possess natural astringent properties, making them effective for reducing swelling and relieving discomfort.

Additionally, tea bags can be repurposed as natural deodorizers, insect repellents, or even compostable plant fertilizers.


Never throw old t-shirts away. You can cut them into strips for a rag for cleaning, repurpose them as reusable shopping bags by tying off the ends, or transform them into quirky throw pillow covers.

Plastic Bottles

You can use plastic bottles to create self-watering planters by cutting them in half, turn them into bird feeders, or fashion them into innovative storage solutions for small items like screws or beads.

Egg Cartons

Never Throw These Away!One of the easiest ways to repurpose egg cartons is as seed starters for gardening. They provide a convenient and biodegradable option for nurturing plants.

Additionally, egg cartons can serve as compact storage for small items such as screws, nuts, or bolts, keeping essential supplies organized.

Related: Chicken Secrets Nobody Told You About

Vegetable Scraps

Utilize them to make homemade vegetable broth or stock, regrow certain vegetables like green onions or lettuce from their scraps, or feed them to compost bins to enrich soil.

Use vegetable scraps to create homemade broth or stock, providing a flavorful base for soups, stews, and other dishes. You can also compost vegetable scraps, turning them into nutrient-rich soil amendments for gardening.


Old newspapers can be used as a biodegradable weed barrier in the garden.

By layering newspapers over soil, they help suppress weed growth while allowing water and nutrients to penetrate, promoting healthier plants and minimizing the need for chemical herbicides.

Additionally, old newspapers can be repurposed as kindling to start fires, making them valuable assets for preppers.

Keeping them near a wood stove or campfire ensures readily available kindling to ignite flames quickly and efficiently, particularly in emergency situations where access to traditional fire-starting materials may be restricted or unavailable.

Make it a habit to always think twice about throwing something away. Chances are good that for most items, you can come up with at least one way you can repurpose it before you do.

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