New year, new start: Decluttering and recycling

Now that the excitement of Christmas is over, we’re making a start on our New Year’s resolutions. Around this time of year, we have to remind ourselves that ‘cosy’ isn’t always the same as ‘cluttered’, so we’re starting our recycling and de-cluttering.

Soft furnishings

As regular readers will know, we really hate waste at Cosy Home. Sometimes, though, some things come naturally to the end of their ‘normal’ life, and we have to think about how to re-use them. Threadbare throws, tattered cushion covers, faded bedding – now’s the time to replace them with the new ones received as Christmas gifts or bought in the sales, and recycle the old ones.

Throws can become draft excluders (just roll them up and stitch into place), cushion covers are easily re-made into door stops or scented heart hangers, or you could re-use all your old soft furnishings at once (including sheets, bed covers or curtains) by making an old-fashioned rag rug.

Save up your fabrics until you have a pile, then cut them into strips about three inches wide. Sew the lengths together until you have three very long pieces – you can always sew a bit more on if you don’t make them long enough in the first place. Sew all three together at one end, and start to plait as tightly as you can. Once you’ve made a short length of plait, secure it by trapping it in a wardrobe door or looping it over a bannister to hold it taut while you carry on.

When you have several feet of plaited material, tie the end you’ve been working on in a loose knot to stop it unravelling, and start to coil the other end into a tight circle. Sew the plaits into place to made a flat, coiled mat.

If your mat is big enough, just undo the knot at the end and sew the loose ends underneath. Otherwise, add more material and carry on for a bit. When the rug is finished, you can sew on some backing material to make it more hard-wearing.

Other ideas for using up lots of different fabrics at once are patchwork quilts, patchwork cushions or an appliqued collage wallhanging.


If you’ve bought or been given extra preserves over the Christmas period, chances are you’re now knee-deep in empty jars.

Jars are one thing that never make it as far as the recycling bin – even if you don’t want to re-use them to make your own jams and chutneys, they’re still useful.

Soak the labels off, give them a thorough wash and put them on one side until you need them. Fill with boiled sweets, nuts or spices as presents, or make a gardener’s gift with seeds or plant labels. Tie with some leftover Christmas ribbon and a luggage tag.

If you’ve got some unusually-shaped jars, they make lovely impromptu tea light holders or vases for wild flowers.

If you’ve bought your Christmas pudding this year, the plastic basin makes a great bird food mould – just fill it with scraps such as dried fruit, cooked rice and breakfast cereal, melt some suet or lard and pour it over. Leave to set, then turn out the dome of food onto the bird table.

Sort out any cracked or chipped china such as mugs, cups and saucers, jugs, bowls or dishes, and start them on a new career as quirky plant holders. Plant with small flowering plants such as violets, daisies, small kitchen herbs or primroses, fill in any gaps with moss and attach a gift tag.

Badly damaged or leaking china can be carefully crushed, and used to create a mosaic on anything from plant pots to table lamps.

By .