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Friday, February 24, 2012


I love looking for new ways to recycle anything and everything. So how about
1. Boot dryer. Collect paper towel or wrapping paper tubes and stuff them into a clean can. Make sure they are tall enough so you can put a boot upside down over them and they are high enough above the ground that air can circulate. Use a wide enough can that they won't tip over. Set your boots above or in front of a heating vent. The cardboard will absorb some of the moisture and the warm air will rise into the boots. You can also use three wrapping paper tubes, taped together, inside tall boots to keep the tops from flopping over.
2. Vacuum cleaner extension. Use a long wrapping paper tube on the end of your vacuum tube to extend its reach another couple of feet. This is great for shop vacuums that sometimes are cumbersome. Use the tube when you vacuum your car and you can squash the end of the cardboard tube to get into tiny areas.
3. Taper candle storage. My taper candles always get scratched or broken when I just leave them inside a drawer to roll around. As a result, I almost never burn candles because they look so bad! Store your tapers inside a paper towel roll or cut down wrapping paper roll and they will stay looking new for the next time!
4. Start a fire. A toilet paper roll is the perfect size to use as a fire starter. I stuff it full of strips of cardboard from more toilet paper rolls, or cereal boxes. Stuff just as many pieces as you can and then drip candle wax or oil down into the tube. This will make it very flammable, so keep it away from kids!!
5. Cord Keeper. Cover the cardboard tube with pretty paper and store all your extension cords neatly! Use a tube in bathroom to keep the curling iron and hair dryer cords from getting tangled. Roll up extra cord behind TVs and other electronics and slip into a tube.
6. Bucket handle. Paint cans and five-gallon buckets get heavy and hurt my hands. I cut a tube up the side and slip it over the wire handles to make it easier to handle! If this is too awkward, roll the tube tight around the handle and secure with tape. It will save your hands!
7. Bird food scoop. I find bird food difficult to scoop into the tops of those narrow bird feeders. A toilet paper tube, closed at one end, makes a perfect scoop for that bird food.
8. Protect door handles. Doing a huge paint job and find you get paint on cupboard handles when you go get a drink of water? Slip a loop of cardboard tube over the door hardware and you can grab a glass easily. You can protect door knobs, too, when you are going in and out while gardening to wash your hands.
9. Fluorescent Light Storage. Do you buy long fluorescent bulbs and break them before you can use them? Slip each one inside a long wrapper paper tube and they wil be less likely to get broken.
10. Plastic bag storage. Stuff a few plastic grocery bags into a paper towel tube and keep under the sink in the bathroom for when you empty the garbage. Or, keep a tube full of plastic bags in your emergency kit in the car. You never know when you need a waterproof bag for wet towels or swimsuits! This is great for camping, too, to keep all those plastic bags from blowing away
11. Gift pouch. Cover a tube with pretty Christmas paper and flatten. Tape one end closed and fill with a small gift: gift card, money, jewelry, anything small and difficult to wrap. Tape the other end closed and add a pretty ribbon.
12. Pest Strip. Cover a tube with adhesive tape wrapped backwards (an interesting challenge!) and sprinkle with a little apple cider vinegar. Hang up and it will attract bugs.
13. Knife storage. Tubes are terrific sheaths for knives. Just flatten, staple and tape the end shut. Make sure you fasten the end enough that the knife doesn't poke through. I have used cereal boxes to make custom knife sheaths for camping, etc.
14. Craft Storage. Arrange tubes in a tissue box. Store paint brushes, pens, pencils, scissors, or knitting needles on your craft table or in a cupboard. Or, cover both ends of a paper towel tube with tape and poke the needles in one end. They will stay secure and won't get bent in the drawer.
15. Organize hair bands, scrunchies and pony tail holders so they don't get tangled or lost.
16. Trouser storage. Slit a paper towel roll up the side and put over a hanger to keep that unsightly crease out of your trousers.
17. Tablecloths. People don't use linen table cloths like they used to, but if you have beautiful tablecloths you only use a couple times a year, launder and iron them and wrap around a plastic-wrap-covered wrapping paper tube and store in a drawer. Or, put a tube over a hanger as is tip #17 and hang your tablecloth in a closet (covered with a dry cleaning bag).
18. Protect those trees. Slit a paper towel roll up the side and slip over your young trees to protect them from the weed eater and lawn mower. Unfortunately, this won't protect them from critters.
19. Seed starters. Cut toilet paper tubes in half, paper towel tubes in quarters. Arrange in a plastic tray so they can't fall over. Fill with starter mix and wet with water before you sow the seeds. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the seeds sprout. You can transplant these to a bigger pot or directly into the ground when the weather warms up!

Projects for Kids

20. Kazoo. Cover one end of a roll with waxed paper fastened tightly with a rubber band. Cut a few holes in the top and hum into one end. You can change the tone a bit by covering up the holes.
21. Shakers. Cover one end tightly with duct tape or glue foil over the end. Fill with rice or dried beans and cover the other end. Make sure it's fastened well, or you will be playing 1 million pick up!
22. Binoculars. Glue two toilet paper rolls together and let dry. Let your child paint in the color of his/her choice. Fasten a loop of string to the end and let them go on safari! If you are concerned about a strangulation hazard, cut a slit in the tube and put the string in the slit. If the binoculars get caught on anything, the string will pull right out.
23. Sidewalk Chalk. Seal the end of a toilet paper tube with duct tape, then plastic wrap and a rubber band. Mix water with a little craft or tempra paint and mix with plaster of paris (follow the directions on the package for proportions) and pour into the tube. Let dry completely and then peel off the cardboard tube.
24.  Swirly snake. Let your child paint the tube in any color. Cut in a spiral starting from one end. Cut the "head" a bit rounder and the "tail" pointy.  Glue on a paper "tongue" and eyes, either from white card or those plastic "googly" eyes. This snake can be wrapped around your child's arm, a chair spindle or anything long and skinney.
25.  Swords or Light Sabers.  Anyone with a husband or son knows about this already. They don't even need them painted! How about cutting holes all over the wrapping paper tube and putting a flashlight in the end and send them outside at night. This would be a good Halloween light for trick or treating, too.
26.  Keep those painted masterpieces from getting creased by rolling them and storing inside a tube.
27.  Entertain the family pet by letting the hamster use a toilet paper tube as a chew toy. They will have fun hiding and sleeping in the tube and they love to chew on cardboard!
28.  Play Dough cookie cutter. Although I don't think I would use a toilet paper tube to cut real cookies (or any food), the would make a great circle cutter for a kid making play dough pies.
29.  Circle maker. Give a kid a stamp pad or a paper plate with a little paint in it and a toilet paper tube and they will have a blast just "stamping" circles.
30.  As lastly, use toilet paper tubes to make figures. You could make a nativity scene, a family of bears (or any animals), a character from a book or the Bible or just a random figure. I found a terrific website that has TONS  of free templates for toilet paper tube figures. In a million years I couldn't come up with this many characters. It is found at www.dltk-kids.com/type/tp_roll.htm

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