Billions of pounds of aluminum foil is produced every year in the U.S. alone. What is frustrating for me, is that while aluminum foil is just as recyclable as aluminum cans, many curbside recycling programs won’t accept it for “sanitary reasons” (check with your local recycling program for their foil policy. To me that is a total shame because recycling aluminum uses only 5% of the energy that it takes to produce aluminum from raw materials. So until our recycling programs get more savvy and expand their programs, here are some ways to get the most life and the most for your money from your aluminum foil by using it more than once.
- Wash it and use it again (and again, and again….) – Just wash it in soap and water, flatten it out with a rolling-pin on the kitchen counter, let it air dry and it is as good as new. Please note: If the foil has come into contact with raw meat it should not be reused for other food purposes. Don’t worry, below are other non-food uses for your foil!
- Sharpen your scissors and garden shears - Fold the used foil so that it is six to eight layers thick, then cut through it a few times with dull scissors to instantly sharpen them. To sharpen garden and pruning shears, just fold the foil so that it is even thicker. This also works well on craft paper punches. For the craft punches, just fold over once or twice and punch through the foil.
- Reduce static cling – I don’t really know how it works, but if you put a crumpled piece of aluminum foil into the dryer, it seems to significantly reduce static cling. If you know how it works, please tell me. Enquiring minds want to know!
- Paint and plaster texture – Use a piece of crumpled up foil to add interesting texture to painting and plastering projects. Also old foil is handy for wrapping around doorknobs and other fixtures you don’t want to get painted. Wrap up your paint brushes and rollers with foil on your lunch break so they don’t dry out.
- Deter pests and other animals from your garden – Hang strips of used foil on strings around your garden to deter birds, deer and other unwanted pests.
- Protect young plants – Make a collar out of used foil to fit loosely around the stems of young tomato plants and other plant starts in order to keep cutworms and other insects away.
- Make metal shine – Scrub rust off of steel and chrome with a crumpled wad of old foil instead of steel wool. It works even better!
- Shim a table leg – Fold or ball up some old foil for under the shorter leg of an uneven table to make it level once again. It stays put much better than cardboard or paper.
- Scrub bbq grills and baked on messes – A wad of old foil makes a great scouring pad for cleaning the yuck off a bbq grill and stuck on food from pots, pans, and inside ovens.
- Line the bbq grills at the park or for camping – If you are squeamish at the sight of a public bbq grill, just roll out a piece of old foil and bake your food right on top. It makes it easier to clean up too. Bonus!
I am sure there are many more great ideas out there to repurpose and upcycle your aluminum. Don’t limit your creativity but rather be experimental. You will find new thrifty ideas to reuse a natural resource, save some $ and have a lighter eco foot print!