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Give yogurt containers a second life

By on April 19, 2008

photo by jasonjt
The three R’s are in order — reduce, reuse and recycle. First, be aware of the products you bring into your home. Reduce waste by using and buying less and by choosing products that have less packaging. Buy larger containers versus single-serve containers, for example, or refuse to buy products sold with excessive packaging. Think of it as precycling. Reusing items is simple, too. Whether it’s finding a clever new use for stuff or simply passing it on to someone else who can use it, you’re doing your part. Before throwing something away, ask yourself whether you can find a second use for it.

Many people are sick to death of hearing about global warming and the state of the economy. It’s not a Chicken Little syndrome that’s sweeping the world. But instead of preaching about soil erosion, food-supply shortages, pollution, population growth and the degradation of our environment, I share practical ways for you to make small changes in your life that make a difference. Simple steps can help your budget and the environment. It starts at home and with each choice you make.

Today, I’m sharing ways to reuse yogurt containers. Simple enough, right?

SEED STARTERS: You don’t need fancy containers to start seeds or plant cuttings. A simple yogurt container works just as well.

FOOD STORAGE: Larger yogurt containers can be used to store leftovers or for sending leftovers home with family and friends. Smaller containers make great Popsicle molds. Reuse them as individual snack holders for gelatin, pudding, dips, cheese spreads or applesauce for lunches. You can use them as snack holders for kids at home, in the car, at the park and on picnics. Lids keep the food from spilling. They’re the perfect size for finger foods. If a container has a lid, cut an x into it and stick in a straw for a frugal sippy cup. I’ve also used them to hold colored frostings for holiday cookies.

Use them to hold crayons, markers, pens and pencils. They’re perfect for washing paintbrushes or for small household paint jobs.

DRAWER ORGANIZERS: Place jewelry, pantyhose, odd buttons, loose change, cotton swabs, paper clips, rubber bands, nails and screws in them so they aren’t loose in drawers.

SCOOPS: They’re handy scoops for kids in the bathtub and sandbox. Use them for birdseed and pet food, too.

TerraCycle has partnered with Stonyfield Farm to collect yogurt containers and reuse them as planting pots to sell to retailers. According to TerraCycle’s Web site, the program will donate two to five cents per container to a charitable organization of the collector’s choice. Visit or call (609) 393-4252 for details.

TOYS: Kids can use them as stackable “building blocks.” If you have a six-pack of connected yogurts, save the containers, and kids can play with them just like they would use Legos.


  1. Conomize Community

    11/18/2008 at 5:19 am

    I think many people including myself are guilty of forgeting the second R in reduce, reuse, recycle. I don’t ever find myself thinking “what can I do to reuse this”. I hereby promise to focue on the second R and try to reuse more often. Anyone else care to make the pledge?

  2. Linda

    5/4/2009 at 12:14 pm

    I was recently debating with myself whether to purchase lunchmeat on sale. The issue was the packaging- though it was by far the cheapest lunchmeat per ounce, the meat was sealed in plastic inside of a totally unecessary tupperware container. The plastic packaging on its own should have been sufficient to contain the meat. Then I realized: free tupperware! No need to go out and buy tupperware, I’ll just stock up my cupboard with the wasteful packaging from the lunchmeat purveyor. Win for me!

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