People are becoming more and more aware of the ways our planet needs help, and that’s a good thing. Millennials are a particularly conscientious generation. They are passionate about conserving oceans, preserving rainforests, and using sustainable ways of living. Thankfully, recycling — or upcycling, the newest form of green living — is easy to do and doesn’t require a ton of time or money, so it can be for everyone.
Upcycling is all about taking something that used to be trash and turning it into something beautiful and useful. It’s a great way to put things to use that would otherwise be sitting in a landfill and hurting the planet. There are tons of suggestions online for ways to upcycle. With minimal time and effort, you can put your trash to great use: making beautiful things while saving the planet.
So, there’s no need to feel upset if your town doesn’t have a recycling plant or you can’t afford a hybrid car: there are tons of ways you can still live sustainably. Just check out these 25 amazing ways to upcycle your trash and beautify your home. Every time you see these things, you’ll be reminded of the ways you’re helping save the earth!
1. Turn old soda bottles into a comfy living room ottoman.
Plastic is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, so it’s great to find ways to reuse it. If you have old 2-liter soda bottles, you can use them to make an awesome ottoman. Take as many soda bottles as you can fit into a cardboard box. Fill them with sand to weigh them down and tape the box shut with duct tape. Put a pillow on top and cover the whole box with a cheap rug of your choice. Sew the corners together to seal, and bam — you have a new piece of furniture.
2. Use wine corks to make an easy bath mat.
If you’ve got wine corks piling up and don’t know what to do with them, look no further. With corks, a non-slip mat, and a glue gun, you can make an easy, comfortable bath mat for your floor. Just boil the corks in water for 10 minutes to get them nice and soft. Slice in half lengthwise and glue to the non-slip mat. It’s that easy.
3. Use old bottle caps to make a laundry hamper.
It’s no wonder that plastic is filling our oceans: items like plastic bottles and caps are produced in the billions. But you can use your old bottle caps to make some amazing items. To make a laundry hamper, just glue bottle caps together and then build upward. It won’t be long before you have a lightweight hamper that’s good for the planet.
4. Make an herb garden out of old wine bottles.
This one is a little more complicated, but it’s a great idea if you’re game. If you have old wine bottles, you can easily turn them into DIY plant holders. First, take some cotton thread and tie it around the center of the bottle. Douse the thread in acetone and use a lighter to let the alcohol burn off. Then dunk in cold water — the change in temperature will allow you to break the bottle neatly along your homemade seam.
File away any sharp edges. Turn the neck of the bottle down into the larger bottle half and use a piece of mesh and some thread to hang down into the bottle. Pour some water down through the neck into the bottom bottle, letting it touch the hanging thread. Then, put some soil and the herbs of your choice in the top half of the bottle. Presto — an herb garden that waters itself!
5. Use old straws to make placemats.
Here’s yet another way to put plastic to use. Use plastic straws to make amazing placemats by weaving them together, then cover with parchment paper and run an iron over the edges to seal. It’s a quick and easy way to reuse plastic that would go into a landfill while at the same time, you score some gorgeous placemats for your table.
6. Use mint or gum tins to store bobby pins.
Everyone who wears them knows that bobby pins are difficult to store. They’re small and easily lost, blending in with carpets and falling into cracks in furniture. Upcycle old Tic-Tac or plastic gum boxes into bobby pin holders. Just wash the label off and fill it up.
7. Use wine corks (again) to make a DIY cork board.
If you really, really love wine, we won’t judge you. But if you have more wine corks than you can keep track of sitting in a drawer, consider a DIY cork board. It’s a perfect way to pin up reminders, notes, and important bills — but there’s no need to run out and buy one. Just glue your corks together with a hot glue gun. Then glue a piece of wire on the back for easy hanging.
8. Use old luggage to make a solid bedside table.
If you have old luggage you don’t want anymore — and if it has old-fashioned hard sides — it’s a perfect candidate for repurposing into a bedside table with personality.
9. Use old plastic bottles to make lawn furniture.
‘You’d be surprised, but 2-liter soda bottles make a great cushion when you’re sitting outside. Just tie or glue them together and attach them to metal chairs to make a comfortable and weatherproof pillow. No need to rush outside to save your lawn chairs when it starts to rain!
10. Use old bags or sacks to make bean bag chairs or footrests.
If you have some old sacks or cloth bags around, put them to new use as bean bag chairs or footrests. Just fill them with beans, fabric scraps, or other soft materials, and sew them closed. They’re attractive and durable enough to stick around for a long time and make your living space look great.
11. Turn old luggage into a new bed for your favorite dog.
If you have a canine friend, they need a special place to snooze. Use an old suitcase to make a combined doggie bed and toy holder. It’s easy: just tuck a pillow inside. What’s more, it’s easy to store if you ever need to put it away. Just make sure pup is out before you close the lid.
12. Make plastic bottles into a broom.
Here’s yet another way to reuse your old plastic bottles: make them into a durable broom that won’t shed straw or fibers onto your kitchen floor. Just remove the cap of one bottle and cut in half. Then glue it to a pole or dowel. Take a second bottle and flatten slightly. Cut the bottom of the bottle out, cutting into small, thin pieces. Then glue the shredded bottle into the bottle attached to the pole using super glue.
13. Collect toilet paper rolls to organize your charging wires.
Here’s a super simple way to keep all your wires organized without a lot of fuss or even a lot of crafting time. Just collect toilet paper rolls and put them into a shoe box or drawer. Wrap your charging wires snugly and fit one-by-one into each charger. Voila, your chargers are organized and you’ve upcycled with hardly any effort.
14. Speaking of toilet paper rolls, use them to make a simple phone stand.
If you regularly need to prop your phone up, there’s no need to go buy a stand. Just make a simple one with a toilet paper roll, a glue gun, scissors, and a couple of clothespins. Glue the clothespins to the bottom to serve as legs. Make sure to measure the slot for your phone before you cut into the top. Then decorate as you like.
15. Turn old cups or bowls into bird or squirrel feeders.
If you have old cups or bowls you no longer use, turn them into a simple outdoor feeder with a glue gun and some string. If the cup has a handle, you can simply tie the string on it and secure with a firm knot. Otherwise, glue the string with hot glue to make sure it holds. Then fill with whatever animal delicacy you like and hang it from a tree or feeder stand.
16. Make old cookie sheets into new memo boards.
Cookie sheets have a long life, but eventually, they get scratched or dirty. It’s easy to turn them into simple, practical memo boards for your home or office. Simply spray paint if you like or decorate with colorful tape to make an easy magnetic board. Mount on the wall with command strips.
17. Turn a bucket into a comfortable ottoman.
Here’s a riff on the idea of using a box as an ottoman. In this version, remove the handle from the bucket. Wrap the bucket with thick rope such as sisal rope and use hot glue to hold it in place. Trim the rope at the top. Cover with a cushion or, if you like, use a tutorial to make your own cushion.
18. Use shoe boxes to create nifty wall shelves.
There’s no need to throw out old shoe boxes: just turn them into wall units! You can decorate however you like — use paint, decorate tape, fabric, and more to transform them from drab to artistic. Reinforce the bottom with wood planks if needed. Then mount them on the wall using command strips (or nails, if you prefer to go that route). Voila: adorable shelves.
19. Fashion a tablet protector out of old mailing envelopes.
It doesn’t take long to make a nifty iPad or tablet case out of a mailing envelope. Just cover with fabric and glue in place. Your tablet will slip snugly inside for perfect protection. To keep the flap in place, glue on some Velcro or buy adhesive-backed Velcro for even easier attachment.
20. Make a laptop case out of an old yoga mat.
Here’s a similar idea to the last post: repurpose your old yoga mat into a laptop case. It’s a simple matter of measuring and cutting down to size, then gluing or stitching it together. The thick material will keep your laptop safe and secure, and you’ll put that old yoga mat to good use.
21. Use skewer, chopsticks, or pencils to make a knife block.
Long, pointy wooden objects tend to accumulate in junk drawers and then never get used. If you have a bunch of chopsticks, skewers, or pencils that aren’t getting any use, make them into a DIY knife block. Just hot glue or super glue upright onto a board. It’s that simple, and your knives will be held safely away from kids or pets.
22. Or turn them into a creative dish rack.
If you don’t need a knife block, put all those pointy wooden objects to another use by making a DIY dish rack. It’s super easy and just a matter of gluing the items upright on a board with enough space between each for a plate. It’s eclectic and it won’t be damaged by water drainage.
23. Turn old tissue boxes into clever storage for plastic bags.
We all have a drawer or cabinet in our kitchen that’s overflowing with plastic bags. It can be difficult to wrestle them apart when you really need one. Instead of doing that, just use an old tissue box for easy storage and access. There’s no need to do anything to this one except, well, insert the bags!
24. Turn your extra silverware into adorable wall hooks.
If you’re looking to get rid of some of your silverware, don’t give them away just yet. Instead, use a small wooden block to make them into cute wall hooks. Paint the blocks however you like, then bend the silverware into hook shapes. Glue together (use a hot glue gun so they’ll support enough weight!) and mount on the wall. Ta-da: an eye-catching way to put old utensils to use!
25. Use a six-pack to store your condiments.
If you need a great way to store condiments or spices at the table, don’t throw away the carton from your last six-pack. Just decorate it with paint or colorful paper and cut out any inserts to make enough space. It’s a perfect way to keep things organized on the table without spending any extra money.
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