In today’s reuse, reduce and recycle world, people are always searching for new ways to make use of items that might otherwise be discarded. This money-saving approach to life is both environmentally-friendly and fun, as there are a surprising number of ways ordinary items can be used to restore, replace or revive things around the home. For example, the humble banana peel can be used for everything from feeding plants to cleaning leather.
In the Garden
Bananas and their peels are both rich in potassium, which is one of the three macronutrients required for healthy plant growth. To give heavy-feeders, such as tomatoes, peppers and rose bushes, an immediate nutrient boost, bury 1-inch pieces of banana peel near the base of the plant. As the peels decompose, they release potassium into the soil, helping nearby plants green-up by encouraging the growth of new leaves and stems. As a bonus, the banana scent produced by the disintegrating peel will help to deter aphids as they are put off by the aroma.
Around the House
The natural oils found on the inside of a banana peel can be used to polish dull silverware or to revive leather goods. Begin by scraping the peel with the edge of a spoon to remove any strings or pulp; once the skin is smooth, rub the peel over the material and watch the shine emerge. Work systematically, moving from one end of the item to the other, until the entire surface has been treated with banana peel, then buff the surface with a soft cloth to enhance the luster. This technique can also be used to brighten plant foliage. The banana peel gently removes dust and dirt from the leaves and restores their natural, glossy shine.
Banana peels are an old-fashioned remedy for unsightly skin warts. At bedtime, cut off a small piece of peel, place it on top of the wart so that the inside of the peel lies directly against the skin, then secure the peel with a piece of medical tape. Leave the treatment in place for at least eight hours, then remove the wrapping and immediately discard it. Repeat the process every night, until the wart is no longer evident. Some warts vanish in less than a week, but stubborn warts can take up to a month to remove. Alternatively, use banana peel to treat skin sores. Scrape the inside of the peel, then apply the stringy paste directly the sore. Cover the area with a piece of gauze and a strip of surgical tape. Leave the treatment in place overnight -- as you sleep the enzymes and sugars in the peel draw toxins from the skin and kill any blemish-causing bacteria. Remove the gauze in the morning and repeat if necessary.
In addition to being a source of vitamins and nutrients, banana peels also contain a number of naturally occurring lipids and enzymes. When applied to the skin, these compounds can relieve itchy bug bites, soothe red rashes, and take the sting out of a sunburn. Additionally, banana peel can be used to draw a splinter from the skin. Place a piece of peel over the splinter and cover it with a strip of adhesive tape. Wait 24 hours, then remove the tape. The splinter should be stuck to the peel, though splinters that are deeply lodged may require multiple treatments.
- Farmers’ Almanac; Banana Peels Can Even Shine Your Shoes; Deborah Tukua; September 2006
- Real Simple: Summertime New Uses for Old Things- Banana Peel
- Reader’s Digest: Nine Extraordinary Uses for Bananas
- "Uncommon Cures for Everyday Ailments"; Elizabeth Barrett, et al; 2001
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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