Rubber wristbands were just about everywhere in the early 2000s. The iconic yellow “Livestrong” rubber bracelets, popularized by superstar athlete Lance Armstrong, kicked off a massive trend for them 15 years ago. These trinkets were cheap and easy to produce, highly customizable, and constructed out of long-lasting material such as silicone. They were (and still certainly are) effective tools for advertising and promotion.
In their heyday, you probably received one of these silicone wristbands from events like an outdoor game, rave party, rock concert, or fundraiser. If you’ve kept any of them lying around at home, you might be surprised to find that even the older ones are resistant to fading and wear-and-tear. At first glance, the durable quality of these wristbands may seem like a double-edged sword: their shelf life is much longer than the event they advertised, and they won’t degrade before they go out of fashion. With that in mind, should they be thrown out, should they be given to recyclers, or should they be repurposed for other things?
The first option will mean adding to your community’s flow of waste and having the wristbands occupy space in the already overcrowded landfills. Recycling isn’t that easy an option, either: though silicone products can be depolymerized and remanufactured into other silicone products, the recycling process for them is more time-consuming and expensive than that of plastic or metal, and you may be hard-pressed to find a plant specializing in recycling silicone.
That leaves the third option—reusing them as they are—as the best option. Don’t fret too hard, though—you’ll be surprised at how many opportunities you have to get creative with those hardy little things! Here are 5 of the most popular (re)uses for old rubber wristbands.
- Wire organizer. When it comes to managing the wire trail in your home, those old rubber bracelets will do just fine. You can safely bundle your long cables and wires up, and wrap a bracelet around each bundle like an ordinary rubber band. Doing this will clear space on the floors and walls and make you and your loved ones less susceptible to tripping on exposed wires.
- Glassware organizers. Silicone bracelets could make for pretty and eye-catching glassware organizers. If you have a bunch on hand, you can slip them over glasses, mugs, and tumblers. Use different-colored ones to distinguish whose stuff is whose. Alternatively, you could use them to open stubborn jars or bottles. Simply wrap one around the body and use it to steady your grip when twisting the lid off.
- Box or container seals. These said wristbands also make for hardy seals on wooden boxes, thick plastic containers, and the like. They’ll stretch just like thin rubber bands, but they won’t snap and break like them. Do incorporate these trinkets into your spring cleaning routine.
- Hand tool grips. Another place you can keep an old wristband or two is your toolbox. Your hands tend to get sweaty or shaky when you’re working with hand tools. You can twist one of them around your claw hammer or screwdriver if you want to improve your grip and your control.
- Accents for eco-friendly crafts and fashion accessories. One of the best counter-solutions for this one-time wearable accessory is to use it in a craft or a wearable item, which will make it more timeless. You can link multiple wristbands to form patchwork bead curtains or mats. They could also be used as handles for bags made out of recycled materials. The sky’s the limit for this option; you can get as creative and colorful as you like.
Those old rubber wristbands may live on long past their original purpose, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be put to good use. It’s best to look on the flip side of things, and make the most of their strong, flexible qualities!