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Zero Waste Uses for Eggs, Eggshells, and Egg Cartons

The ultra-utilitarian egg is a kitchen staple, but it has several other surprising uses around the house.

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Use egg yolks to make a moisturizing facial.

If you have dry skin that needs moisturizing, an egg yolk makes a great natural facial. Oily skin does better with the egg white (to which you can add a little lemon or honey), and normal skin can take the entire egg. Separate the egg as needed, and beat the part that suits your skin. Then apply the beaten egg to the area you want to treat, relax and wait 30 minutes, then rinse.

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Use egg whites as glue.

Out of regular white glue? Egg whites can act as a glue substitute when gluing paper or light cardboard together.

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Use eggshells in the garden compost.

Eggshells are a great addition to your garden compost because they are rich in calcium—a nutrient that helps plants. Crushing them before you put them in your compost heap will help them break down faster.

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Use boiled-egg water in the garden.

After boiling eggs, don’t pour the water down the drain. Instead, let it cool; then water plants with the nutrient-filled water.

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Use egg cartons or eggshells in the garden to start seeds.

Plant seeds in eggshells. Place the eggshell halves in the carton, fill each with soil, and press seeds inside. The seeds will draw extra nutrients from the eggshells. Once the seedlings are about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) tall, they are ready to be transplanted into your garden. Remove them from the shell before you put them in the ground. Then crush the eggshells and put them in your compost or plant them in your garden. You can also use a cardboard egg carton as a nursery for your seeds; once they’ve sprouted, divide the carton and plant each cardboard cell along with the seedlings.

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Use eggshells to scrub the house.

Ground eggshells make a wonderful (and nontoxic!) abrasive for those tough-to-clean pots, pans, and thermoses. Mix them with a little soapy water for a powerful clean.

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Use eggshells to unclog drains.

Keep a few ground eggshells in your kitchen sink strainer. They trap additional solids and when they slowly break down, they will help to naturally clean your pipes on their way out.

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Use eggshells to clear up skin.

Drop an eggshell into a small container of apple cider vinegar and let it soak for a couple of days. Dab the mixture on minor skin irritations or on itchy skin.

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Use eggshells to fortify pet food.

Dry eggshells in a 250-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then put them in a plastic zipper bag, seal it, and crush the shells with a rolling pin until they are a fine powder. Put this into your dog’s food as a great calcium supplement to help its bones and teeth. Always check with your vet if you have questions.

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Use eggshells in the garden to scare away slugs.

Crush eggshells and scatter them around your garden’s vegetables and flowers to fend off hungry herbivores, such as slugs, snails, and cutworms without using toxic pesticides. The smell of eggs will also deter deer.

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Use eggshells in coffee.

Add some crushed eggshells to ground coffee before brewing it to make it taste less bitter. When you’re done, toss the grounds and shells on your compost heap!

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Use egg cartons to make ice.

You probably know to organize washers, screws, coins, twist ties, lost buttons, and the like in empty egg cartons. But if you need extra ice for a party, fill the bottom halves of clean polystyrene egg cartons with water and freeze.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest