Frugality involves being less wasteful. Even if you're pretty good about not wasting much, there's always room for improvement. What ways do you avoid being wasteful? Here are a few ideas.

CRAFT SCRAPS: Don't throw away yarn or fabric scraps. Fabric scraps can be used in applique, coasters, sachets, hair scrunchies, decoupage, quilt blocks or string quilts, pillow stuffing or fabric wreaths. One reader, Carol from Canada, shares: "I keep anything 2 inches or larger. I purchased a couple of plastic containers on sale and use those to store my pieces. If I have a piece of material left over, I cut out triangles or strips for Log Cabin quilts. The material is already cut up and ready to sew when I want to make a quilt." Consider using your yarn scraps to make security blankets for shelter pets. Visit for details. Vow to use up what you have, too. Instead of finding a new project and buying new supplies, look at the supplies you already have and find a project that works.

LEFTOVERS: They often get shoved to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten. Not everyone has time to plan out meal makeovers or remembers to pop them into the freezer. But maybe you can simply remember to set out a leftover or two at mealtime. Put your fast food condiments to use, too. Don't save them with good intentions in a plastic tub only to toss them later. It's tempting to open a brand new container of a product. Resist and make it a point to use the takeout packets or the last little bits in a container.

SAMPLES: Maybe you have a stash of hotel or travel-size soaps and shampoos or freebie product samples. Use them up or gift or donate them to someone who can use them.

PAPER: Save envelopes and any paper that is used only on one side. You can cut and staple them together or simply save them in a box to use so you don't use up a new sheet. Or make paper beads for jewelry. Visit and for tutorials. You can shred it for packing material or use it for Origami. One reader, Christine from Oregon, shares how she makes homemade paper: "Get an old blender and a dish pan. Make a wood frame from scraps that will fit inside the dish pan and rest on the bottom. Then tack a small piece of screen tightly over the frame. Fill the blender 1/3 to 1/2 full with water. Add thin paper shreds. Keep adding paper (and water as necessary) until you have a good amount of pulp. You don't want it too soupy, but liquid enough so that it will pour and not burn out the blender. Fill the dish pan half way with water and add the pulp. Add more pulp if necessary. Put your screen down in the dishpan and press it all the way to the bottom, then lift it up. Do this several times until the screen is covered entirely with pulp. Take the screen out of the tub and drain it over a sink. When the pulp is still damp but has drained enough to hold together, turn it out onto a flat surface to dry.

photo by heidi elliot