Economy of the household was key for most of our families over the years. Especially during the Great Depression, but even in the decades after, many of our parents and grandparents tried their very best to avoid wasting anything. And, if your parents and grandparents were anything like mine, there were many items that they did not throw away. Unlike today, these items were used until they were all the way gone.
1) Jars & Containers
Large or small, boxes, tins, jars, and containers were saved. For bits and bobs, they served well. Fruit crates were used as furniture, scrap wood, or as planter boxes. Coffee cans, once empty, became grease cans. Jars were the most useful, but of course they bought fewer jars back then because they did so much of their own canning.
Even one button that has no mates can be useful. A jar of buttons was always available. Many a shirt was saved and project finished quickly because of the massive button jar. No matter how small or inexpensive, all buttons were saved and used again.
3) Fabric Scraps
Fabric scraps can have a second life as all kinds of things and our grandmothers knew exactly how to put them to use: patchwork, quilts, rag rugs, doll clothes, baby clothes, and for rags. They never threw out a piece of fabric.
4) Aluminum Foil
Washed off, foil can be used again for food storage. It can also be used as lining or wadded up as an abrasive scrubber for cleaning.
The uses for old newspapers are endless. They can be used as kindling, as craft paper, as wrapping paper, as insulation, as linings for birdcages and boxes, and a whole heap of other things besides. Our grandparents knew how to use every last bit of anything that came into the house!