If you’ve had a shiny new set of tools for Christmas, or some new furniture or some plant pots, then spare a thought for whatever it is they are replacing. With landfill sites becoming ever fuller, it is becoming more and more expensive – in every respect – to simply throw things away.

So why not find a new purpose for your old things? Recycling and reusing is a very important part of sustainability and you may well surprise yourself with your own inventiveness. Take some time to think about the little things you’ve been meaning to buy for your garden or home, then have a look at your leftovers to see if any of them might do the trick.

Repurposing old furniture

An old chest of drawers or dresser is a great place to start. The market for second-hand furniture, particularly old wooden furniture, is not very lucrative, but there are lots of ways to recycle a chest of drawers. Remove the top surface and the top drawers, and take off the drawer supports at the front. After a coat of paint, you’ll have a lovely wide outdoor seat with a high back and arms.

If you have an old piece of fence panelling, you can also turn the struts and fence posts into a bench. Separate the timber and remove any stray nails, then create a box frame with the thicker posts. Then use the fence slats to make the top of the seat – saw them to size, sand and varnish and you’ll have a great place to sit in the garden.

Old doors make a great table top, or if you’re looking for something smaller then try to use the top of an old desk.

How about building a new garden fence? Old wooden pallets are ideal for this – just pop down to your local builders’ yard to see if they have any going spare. A little bit of sanding and nail work will produce some excellent overlapping fence panels.

Finding a use for your old tools

If your garden tools have been left outside in the rain once too often, or the handle just can’t be repaired, there’s no need to throw them away – you can find plenty of new purposes for them.

A rake head makes an excellent set of hooks. Fix it to the side of your garden shed and you can use it for keys or overalls, or anything else you want to hang. If you get rid of the rust and give it a good shine, then it could work for displaying necklaces or other jewellery.

If you have several old tools with long handles, you can fix them into a pyramid and use it to train climbing plants like clematis or honeysuckle.

Old wrenches can be bent into stronger hooks, square cheese graters make excellent holders for your kitchen utensils and old clamps are ideal as bookends.

If your garden gate is looking a little tired, replace the panelling with some old tools. Saw the tool handles to fit inside the gate frame then fix them into the frame of the gate.

Using your unneeded food

Composting is an ideal way of getting rid of your old food, while finding a new use for it. If you don’t have a compost bin, now is an ideal time to get one, and you can start turning your leftovers into plant food.

There are some items of food you can even replant in your greenhouse. Plant your old garlic cloves and cut off the green stalk so that it puts its energy into growing roots. Green onions can thrive in the right environment – put the white ends in warm water and in a week or so you’ll see them grow.

Sustainability isn’t a chore

In fact, being sustainable can be great fun. Not only will you find new life in things that seemed as though they could only go on the scrap heap, but you’ll end up with some great talking points for visitors.

When we spend so much time in our gardens trying to make the perfect environment for our home, it’s very important that we don’t ignore the rest of the natural environment as well. If you grow your own food, or use a rainwater butt to keep your garden green, you’re halfway there already. Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle and you’ll be making a good contribution.

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