Sustainable Living

How to Reuse These 9 Common Packaging Items

With the world currently preoccupied with the COVID-19 crisis, the environmental issues the world is facing have taken a back seat in our collective consciousness. But of course, these issues haven’t gone anywhere! It is still hugely important to take care of the environment and do our best to minimise and reverse the damage that humans are doing to the planet.

One small way to contribute to this and live a more sustainable lifestyle is to re-use the resources we have, rather than throwing them away. Something that we don’t always have control over is the packaging our purchases come in. Luckily, there are many ways to reuse packaging and extend its life as a useful resource for us. Here is a list of common packaging items and some ideas for how to reuse them.  

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through my link, I will earn a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. I only advertise products that I have used myself and would genuinely recommend.

9 Common Packaging Items and How to Reuse Them

How to Reuse These 9 Common Packaging Items

1. Empty lip balm tubes

When a lip balm runs out, you can remove the inside part and you are left with an empty cylindrical tube with a lid. This is probably true for most lipsticks as well!

In the past, I have used these tubes to store pills and supplements. It’s a really convenient and compact way to carry them in your bag when you are out or travelling. Other possible uses for empty lip balm tubes include:

  • Storing beads for crafting.
  • Storing seeds from plants.
  • Storage for hair grips.

2. Empty dental floss dispensers

A pile of empty dental floss dispensers.

If you are into sewing, this tip may be useful for you. When your dental floss runs out, you can open up the dispenser and use it to store thread. Often I have offcuts of thread from when I have been sewing, and I store them in an empty floss dispenser to stop them from getting tangled. I’ve built up quite a collection of these now!

An empty dental floss dispenser that I have refilled with a spare piece of green thread for sewing.

3. Rescue pastille tins

I had a phase of getting through a lot of rescue remedy pastilles, which meant I was left with a lot of empty tins. These can actually go in the recycling, but they are also really useful tins for storing things around the house. I use them to store paperclips. Here are some other possible uses:

  • Storing pins or needles.
  • Keeping screws, bolts or similar.
  • Storing hair ties or hair grips.
Three empty rescue pastille tins that I have stuck labels on saying 'Large Paperclips', 'Coloured Paperclips' and 'Regular Paperclips'.

4. Rubber bands

I accumulate rubber bands from my grocery shopping, as they often come wrapped around bunches of spring onions, herbs and similar. One way that I reuse these is to wrap them around coat hangers to make them non-slip. Other uses could include:

  • Bundling coloured pencils or pens together.
  • Tying up makeshift bin bags (see below).
A cream coat hanger with blue rubber bands wrapped around each arm to provide grip so that clothes stay on the hanger.

5. Plastic bags of all kinds

Many things come packaged in plastic bags of all different shapes and sizes. I save these up because they make great makeshift bin liners for the small bin in my bedroom. This saves me from buying new plastic bin liners.

I also use the small plastic bags from greetings cards to store toiletries where I have cut open the tube to get the last bit out. This keeps them airtight.

6. Twist ties

I think ‘twist ties’ is the name for those little wire and plastic ties that come wrapped around cables when you buy new electronic devices. You also get these little ties with sandwich bags. I reuse these to tie up my makeshift bin bags since they often don’t have handles to tie.

Assorted twist ties laying on a lined journal page.

7. Cardboard boxes

Sometimes, I put these straight into the recycling, but other times I save them up. I go through phases of selling things on eBay, and it’s so useful to have a supply of cardboard boxes to package up my sold items, so I don’t have to buy new packaging.

I also have a friend who owns rats, and she is always appreciative of cardboard boxes to create structures to go in her rat cage.

9 Recycling Hacks for Packaging

8. Bubble wrap

I find bubble wrap to be a wasteful material because it can’t be recycled, and it could easily be replaced by more sustainable materials. However, I do accumulate bubble wrap from buying things online. I save this up to use when I am packaging things for eBay.

Bubble wrap would also come in handy if you are moving house and need to transport breakable items. If you don’t plan to move house or sell anything on eBay, I recommend passing your bubble wrap on to someone else who will use it.

Related post: Ways to Reduce your Plastic Use

9. Soap wrappers

Soaps and other solid shower products often come wrapped in paper or a cardboard box. This tends to retain the scent of the soap for quite a while, so rather than throwing it into the recycling, I put it in my underwear drawer to provide a nice fragrance. When the scent has faded I recycle it.

An empty soap bar box which I have put in my sock drawer to provide a nice scent.

How do you reuse packaging items?

I would love to know whether you have ever done any of the above tips. Or have you found any other ways to reuse packaging items? Let me know in the comments – I would love to get ideas from you!

If you are looking for even more ways to live a sustainable lifestyle, I wrote a similar post last year with ideas of how to reduce, reuse and recycle in your daily life.

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How to Reuse These 9 Common Packaging Items


  1. These are some great ideas! I try to repurpose plastic goods, but i havent tried any of these yet xx

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked my ideas xx

  2. Sarah says:

    I love reusing little boxes like you can use an empty tic tac box for hair clips xx

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Oh that reminds me, I use an empty tic-tac box to store little pegs for hanging up Christmas cards! I’m always saving little boxes to reuse too xx

  3. These are great tips. One of the great uses that I’ve seen is to use empty lipstick or chapstick to hold ’emergency money’ in your purse or beach bag. If someone steals your wallet (pickpocket style, not taking the whole bag obviously lol), they likely aren’t going to be digging for your lipstick too!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Oh, that’s such a good idea to store emergency money in an empty lipstick or chapstick tube! I had never heard of that before but I will definitely consider it now!

  4. These are genius hacks – I would never have thought of using elastic bands on coat hangers, nor keeping soap wrappers for their fragrance but I will be doing both from now on, thank you!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I’m so glad you found my hacks useful! xx

  5. These are really great ideas on how to reuse packaging. As a crafter and DIY lover, this post is right up my alley! I am going to try many of these. Thank you so much for sharing all of these creative ideas!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you found these ideas helpful!

  6. These are great tips! I love the idea for reusing the soap wrappers to scent your drawers – that’s genius!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you! I’ve done that for such a long time!

  7. What a bloody brilliant blog post! I never knew how easy it could be to recycle and reuse my simply house hold items!


    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked this post.

  8. Toma Ruh says:

    Such smart ideas! I’m definitely stealing some!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you! Feel free to steal the ideas!

  9. Great ideas! I do a few of these but now I know there’s scope to do so much more.

    1. Sophie says:

      Thank you! I’m glad to have given you some more ideas.

  10. Oo, I love the rubberband hack to make your hangers non slip! I have such trouble keeping heavier dressing from sliding off, so this is one to keep in mind. The soap box in the underwear drawer is also genius; most soaps I buy have such a nice smell!
    Thanks for sharing some amazing ways to reuse commonly thrown-away items. 🙂

    1. Sophie says:

      I’m so glad you liked these hacks! I hope you get a chance to try the rubberband hack and the soap boxes in the underwear drawer. It’s a great way to make the most of the lovely scents! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

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