8 Ways to Recycle Empty Cans

Make light reflectors It’s simple to make reflectors for your campsite or backyard lights. Just remove the bottom of a

Make light reflectors
It’s simple to make reflectors for your campsite or backyard lights. Just remove the bottom of a large empty can with a can opener and take off any label. Then use tin snips to cut the can in half lengthwise. You’ve just made two reflectors.

Feed the birds
A bird doesn’t care if the feeder is plain or fancy as long as it is filled with suet. For a feeder that’s about as basic as you can get, wedge a small can filled with suet between tree branches or posts.

Create decorative snowman
Wrap an old soda can with white paper and tape with transparent tape. For a head use a styrene foam ball and tape it to the top of the can. Cover the body with cotton batting or cotton bandaging material and tape or glue it in place. Make a cone-shaped paper hat. Make eyes and a nose with buttons. To add arms, punch holes in the sides of the can and insert twigs. Use dots from a black marker pen to make buttons down the snowman’s front. Make a scarf from a scrap of wooly fabric.

Make planters more portable
Don’t strain your back moving a planter loaded with heavy soil. Reduce the amount of soil and lighten the load by first filling one-third to one-half of the bottom of the planter with empty, upside-down aluminum cans. Finish filling with soil and add your plants. In addition to making the planter lighter, the rustproof aluminum cans also help it to drain well.

Protect young plants
Remove both ends of an aluminum can and any paper label. Then push it into the earth to serve as a collar to protect young garden plants from cutworms. Use a soup can or a coffee can, depending on the size you need.

Make a tool tote
Tired of fumbling around in your tool pouch to find the tool you need? Use empty frozen juice cans to transform the deep, wide pockets of a nail pouch into a convenient tote for wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. Make sure to remove the bottom of the can as well as the top. Glue or tape the cylinders together to keep them from shifting around, and slip them into the pouches to create dividers.

Organize your desk
If your office desk is a mess, a few empty cans can be the start of a nifty solution. Just attach several tin cans of assorted sizes together in a group to make an office-supplies holder for your desk. Start by cleaning and drying the cans and removing any labels. Then spray paint them (or wrap them in felt). When the paint is dry, glue them together using a hot glue gun. Your desk organizer is now ready to hold pens, pencils, paper clips, scissors, and such.

Make pigeonholes
Assemble half a dozen or more empty cans and paint them with bright enamel. After they dry, glue the cans together and place them on their sides on a shelf. Then store silverware, nails, office supplies, or other odds and ends in them.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest