Traveling Green

Now that summer is coming and many of us will be traveling to vacation destinations, taking day trips to the beach, or just driving a lot more with kids in the backseat I wanted to put together some ideas for using recyclable items to make your time in the car, plane or train a little easier. Traveling smart does NOT require a trip to the Container Store! Note: some of these ideas have already been published on this site, most have not.


Baking Tray Magnet Games

An old metal tray or cookie sheet makes a great travel activity. Pack a container filled with magnetic letters and numbers, or make your own picture magnets following a particular theme such as family pictures or furniture for a magnetic doll house.


Breath Mint Container

Breath mint containers are ideal for reusing as miniature travel containers. They are often made of metal, which doesn’t break down like plastic does, are easily washable, and have lids that securely close. Use a label machine or a Sharpie pen to clearly label with the new contents and fill your containers with:

  • aspirin or allergy medications
  • salt and pepper (use a two to one ratio)
  • sugar and/or powdered creamer
  • cotton swabs


Egg Carton

Jewelry Holder

Stashing your jewelry in the small compartments of an egg carton keeps them from getting tangled together and keeps small items from getting lost. To keep items from trading compartments place a 1/2-inch thick piece of foam cut to fit the inside of the carton across the bottom section before closing. Hold the entire carton together with one or two large rubber bands.

Snack Tray

Fill each compartment with snacks for little ones. While this takes up more room than zip-lock baggies, the carton will keep the snacks from turning into a crumbly mess.

Egg Carton Toy Holder

Fill each compartment with small toys or craft items. The lid becomes a play or work surface.


Deodorant Casing

Empty deodorant casings make great travel containers. Toss the empty casings along with the lids in the small item basket in your dishwasher. Allow to thoroughly dry then use one (or more) of the ideas below:
• travel case for crayons
• first aid kit: fill with bandages, aspirin, trial size first-aid ointments …
• fill with sewing supplies for a travel sewing kit
• hide money and other valuables in it when traveling
• hold small items when traveling

Emergency Trunk Kit for Your Car

Pack the following recyclable items in a large empty coffee can stowed in your trunk. Evaluate according to the type of driving and terrain you will be driving.

  • 2 candle stubs for starting a fire in damp conditions
  • Wooden matches who’s heads have been dipped in melted candle wax which makes them moisture resistant. Store in a small box so the wax doesn’t get rubbed off. Or bend back the front cover of a book of matches and dip the entire batch of paper matches in candle wax. Bend the cover back around and to protect the matches. Waterproof matches are better than a lighter as a lighter must be warm to work and if the lighter is left in the trunk long enough the fuel can evaporate.
  • Unopened bottle(s) of water.
  • Granola bars or other nonperishable high-energy food.
  • Shoe laces to make an emergency tourniquet.

Wrap a quilt made from old blankets (doesn’t matter if it’s ugly – ugly will still keep you warm) around the coffee can and secure with a pair of old pantyhose or tights which can be used for a variety of emergencies such as:

  • replace a broken belt in your car’s engine
  • a tourniquet
  • filter liquids

secure a splint to a broken arm or leg


Plastic Bags

Bathing Suit Storage

Place wet gear in plastic grocery bags, twist and tie off to keep the wet gear from dripping all over everything else in your tote bag or suitcase.

Shoe Protectors

The plastic bags that your newspaper comes in (also grocery produce bags) are great for placing shoes in when you travel. Handled grocery bags work also but I like to use the newspaper or produce bags so that I can see which shoes are in them.



Purse You No Longer Use

Toiletry Bag

A purse with pockets is great as a toiletry kit. I especially love that you can hang it from a hook in a bathroom or just over your shoulder while standing at the sink so you can easily grab what you need as you need it.

Toy Bag

Fill with toys and activities for your child(ren). Use the handle or strap of the purse to hook it over the back of a car, train or plane seat. Your child now has easy access to their favorite toys and it’s easy for them to put them away when their done playing.


Rug Liners

Use old rugs to line a pet travel kennel or place on the floor of your car. These rugs can be easily removed and shaken or even hosed down and if they’re beyond cleaning you can just through them away.


Slightly Off Topic

Have you ever wondered what they do with planes that are no longer able to fly? Good news – there are many ways to recycle old planes.


“Sneaky” Deer Repellent

Are Bambi and friends using your garden as a midnight snack bar? Irritating right? Yet you don’t want to harm the party crashers just to keep your garden off the menu. There’s a simple solution to this dilemma. You CAN have a nibble-free garden without harming any Disney characters in the process. Just place a pair of used sneakers somewhere in the area that’s being used as a snack bar. You can hide them under a bush, it’s not the sight of your grungy sneaks that keeps them away, it’s the human scent that repels them.

Make Life Easier With Egg Cartons

Chances are you’ll eventually run out of things to store in your egg cartons so here are some ideas for using egg cartons that don’t involve storing items in them but should still work to make some aspect of your life a little easier..


Seed Starters

Poke a few holes in the bottom of an egg carton for drainage. Fill each section 3/4 full with potting soil and vermiculite. Plant seeds according to package directions and set in a sunny window.



Remove the lid from the egg carton and save it for another use, such as a drawer organizer.

Pour birdseed over the bottom portion of the carton so that each section is filled with birdseed.

Poke holes in the four corners of the carton and attach a bright string or ribbon to each corner. Don’t use fish line as the birds may not see it and get entangled it in. Gather the strings together at the center, knot, and hang your bird feeder from a branch.


Charcoal Fire Starter

Pour melted wax over the bottom section of  a paper carton so that each section is approximately 1/3 filled with wax. For obvious reasons – which I didn’t figure out until I used a plastic egg carton – don’t use a plastic egg carton. Place one charcoal briquette in each section with the wax. Close the carton and store until your next barbecue. To use, tear off and set aside the top of the carton for another use such as a resting place for your barbecue tongs and barbecue sauce brush. Place the bottom half of the carton in the bottom of the grill. Light the carton. Wait a few minutes and then add more charcoal.


Fire Starters

You won’t need lighter fluid with this fire starter. Fill each section of a paper egg carton with dryer lint. Pour melted wax (from candle stubs) over the lint. When wax is hardened tear apart the sections and use for fire starters.


Chips & Dip Picnic Tray

Fill the lid of a plastic egg carton with chips, cracker and/or veggies. Serve dip in the half with the egg indentations. This works best when using Styrofoam cartons. The cardboard ones will soak up any liquid in the dip.


Disposable Cutting Board

Many of the ideas in this section call for saving the top half of the carton for another use. I pack a few egg carton tops with my camping gear and in my picnic basket to use as cutting boards. When the meal is done just toss them in the trash.


Disposable Plate

I stack egg carton tops in my cupboard next to my plates and when I want a disposable plate there they are. These are great for when the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and I don’t feel like washing dishes by hand, for a day at the beach and for picnics.


Ice-Cube Trays

Use Styrofoam egg cartons to make extra ice for parties or picnics. Wash them well before filling with ice. Keep the lids attached so you can stack them in the freezer. Getting the ice out pretty much trashes the egg carton but at least you got one more use out of it.


Money Container

Egg cartons are great garage sale “cash registers” because you can divide your change into separate compartments. Staple an envelope or two pieces of elastic to the inside top of the carton for the bills.


Packing Material

Use the carton whole, break it up or pack small items inside the carton.

Now I bet you’ll think twice before throwing away an egg carton.