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15 Ways To Use Stuff You’re About To Throw Out


15. Wood Scraps
Photo credit: Mike / Flickr


There’s a new buzz. Upcycling is making something useful out of something that would otherwise be useless or thrown away. It is a trend that is catching on and has the power to make a significant dent in our mountains of trash.

Up until now the main focus of the three “R”s, reduce-reuse-recycle, has been recycling despite it being the most inefficient method of the three “R”s to reduce carbon emissions. Upcycling is at the forefront of a growing focus on the first two “R”s, reduce and reuse.

Here are 15 common items you can divert from the trash pile and start your own upcycling habit.

15. Wood Scraps

If you have a collection of odd wood end cuts and other bits and pieces that you think you will need one day but never do, maybe it’s time to make some little guy or girl happy with a set of wood blocks. Cut them in 1-3/8 inch increments to allow easy stacking a fitting together. Keep the minimum size big enough that it doesn’t pose a choking hazard. These blocks should not have any finish applied. Give them a good sanding to remove any splinters and sharp corners, and voila.

Pallet wood projects are also very popular in green DIY circles. Online sites like Pinterest have thousands of inspiring projects made from upcycled pallet wood. There have been concerns raised about health risks from food borne pathogens such as E. coli that a 2010 study by National Consumers League found on 10 percent of wood pallets used to transport food, as reported by Natural Life Magazine.

Other pallets may also have chemical contaminants from spills or from being treated with pesticides. Until 2010 pallets were treated with the pesticide methyl bromide to prevent the international transportation of wood born pests.

Did You Know

Building blocks have been around for over 200 years and from the beginning have been considered educational as well as fun. Official school sized blocks are 1-3/8 inches by 2-3/4 inches by 5-1/2 inches. Hard maple is considered the best material for children’s building blocks because it has fine pores which make very smooth blocks. Other hardwoods such as oak are also very durable but have larger pores and produce rougher blocks.

How It Helps

Wood is a natural repository of carbon. Wood that is burned for fuel in a fireplace or as trash releases carbon. Creating useful objects out of scrap lumber is both economical and helps the environment by keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.