Crafty Ways to Repurpose & Upcycle Everyday Items

Upcycling is a great way to turn your trash into a new treasure. Not only is it a fun, crafty activity, but it also means you can reduce your environmental impact by cutting down on waste. Almost everything can be upcycled. All it takes is a bit of imagination and effort.

Here are some simple upcycling ideas to get you started.

Broken picture frames become decorative trays

A tray with glasses on it.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dion Abadi photo

Broken the glass of your picture frame? Here’s a way to repurpose the frame.

After you’ve safely removed the glass, you can cover the wooden backing with decorative paper. Or, if you’ve got brush skills, you could paint a decorative pattern or picture on it.

Depending on what you will use the tray for, you could fix handles to either end of the frame. The tray could be used for storing trinkets, carrying drinks, or even as a lap tray for eating your dinner!

Empty egg cartons are perfect seed starters

Plant in an egg carton
Image Credit: Shutterstock / t.sableaux

Empty egg cartons are great for many reasons. They are recyclable, compostable, and also reusable.

An empty egg carton is the perfect place to start growing seeds. Simply fill each well with a little bit of compost and sprinkle your seeds on top. You can also put the egg carton in a tray of shallow water, that way the cardboard will naturally soak up the moisture, passing it onto the soil and the roots.

Whether you plant wildflowers or hot peppers, sit back and watch them grow.

Tupperware is great for drawer organization

Receipts in Tupperware
Image Credit: Shutterstock / timallenphoto

Hands up, how many lidless Tupperware boxes do you have in your kitchen right now? Chances are at least a few.

Once you’re certain those lids won’t be appearing again, get ready to repurpose the boxes.

Empty Tupperware boxes are great for keeping your drawers organized. Use an assortment of shapes and sizes to find a configuration that works for your drawers. Then, you can store anything in them. From make-up and creams to spare pens and paper clips. No more messy drawers!

Dryer fluff makes excellent fire starters

Starting a fire
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Brendt A Petersen

Dryer lint is flammable, so you should remember to empty your filter regularly. But, don’t throw it away. This fluff can be repurposed into excellent fire starters.

Grab your dryer lint and a pot of Vaseline, then you’re ready to make repurposed fire starters.

Once you have a cotton-ball-sized piece of lint, rub a little Vaseline on your fingers and gently roll the lint ball until it combines with the Vaseline. A fire lighter of this size should burn for roughly 7 minutes.

These fire starters are recommended for outdoor use only.

So many upcycling possibilities with wooden pallets

Furniture made of pallets.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Olesia Bilkei

Wooden pallets are an upcycler’s dream material! The possibilities are truly endless.

From bed frames to garden furniture, there are so many ways to repurpose wooden pallets. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

– A wooden pallet standing vertically with a piece of longer wood on top will make a great side table.
– Screw wheels to the bottom and varnish the wood, then you have a moveable coffee table.
– Break the wood down and make a quirky bird table from the individual planks.

Wine corks for quirky bulletin boards

Close up of wine cork note board
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ramann

If you love a glass of wine, this one’s for you.

Old corks can be easily repurposed into bulletin boards. Once you’ve got a big enough collection, stick them all together and thread some rope through the top. Buy a few push pins and now you have a new home for loose notes.

You could fashion the corks into a variety of shapes, square, circular, or even a love heart. Whatever takes your fancy.

Empty plastic bottles can organize plastic bags

Person holding plastic bottle
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Komsan Loonprom

Finding ways to repurpose plastic, especially plastic that would otherwise be thrown away, is a great way to reduce your environmental impact.

This crafty hack will help you keep your plastic bag collection organized, using nothing other than an empty plastic bottle!

Once the bottle is empty and cleaned, cut the bottom off and stuff all your plastic bags inside.

Then, attach the bottle to a wall or the inside of a cupboard, with the mouth of the bottle facing down.

Each time you need a bag you can quickly pull one out through the mouth of the bottle.

Mason jars are an upcycling dream

Mason jar filled with Cotton balls
Image Credit: Shutterstock / RelentlessImages

Mason jars offer endless opportunities when it comes to upcycling. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

– Use Mason jars to store bathroom bits such as cotton balls and Q-tips. You could even glue a decorative handle onto the lid of the Mason jar, to jazz them up a bit.
– Cut a small hole in the lid of your Mason jar, big enough to slide a soap dispensing nozzle into. Fill your Mason jar with soap and you then have a reusable soap dispenser.

Old ladder, new bookshelf

Ladder used as a shelf
Image credit: Shutterstock / New Africa

Do you have an old ladder that’s not quite sturdy enough to stand on anymore? Here’s a way to put it to new use…

Pop the legs of the ladder open and fix a plank of wood horizontally, at each step. Depending on how sturdy your new bookshelf feels, you can either lean the bookshelf against the wall or fix it there.

Now you have a new place to display your reading collection, trinkets, and decorations.

Pringle can turned cotton pad dispenser

Pringle can.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / MakroBetz

Before you throw away that empty Pringle can, here’s an idea for you. Wrap the Pringle can in some nice paper to cover the branding.

Then, use a sharp knife or craft scalpel to cut a half-moon shape right at the bottom of the can. The diameter needs to be about the same width as a cotton pad.

Fill your can with cotton pads, put the lid on, and now you have a nifty little cotton pad dispenser.

Plastic straws keep necklaces untangled

Diamond necklace in the snow
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Anita Blake

Plastic straws are another pesky piece of waste. But, this crafty idea is a great way to recycle and repurpose them.

Plastic straws will help prevent your necklaces from becoming tangled. Simply thread one end of your necklace through the straw and then fix the clasp together. The plastic straw will then prevent the chain from tangling.

You can try this thrifty tactic in your jewelry box, suitcase, or overnight bag.

Broken plates and pots make beautiful bird baths

Bird in a pot of water
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nikhil Chandran

Cracked plates and pots don’t need to be thrown out. Here’s a way to salvage them.

If your plate or pots are cracked, glue the pieces back together. Once the glue is dry you can then glue the plate to the pot.

Add a small amount of water, put your new bird bath in your garden and admire your winged visitors.

You can even get wild with the paints and decorate your birdbath if you fancy!

Make candles with empty jars

A candle burning
Image Credit: Shutterstock / AtlasStudio

This is a great way to repurpose empty food jars. It also makes a thrifty gifting idea.

Buy some wax melts and candle wicks, you can pick these up pretty easily and they are reasonably priced.

Melt them down and pour them into your empty jars.

Drop the wick in and secure it in place until the wax hardens again.

You can then decorate the outside of the jar with ribbon, string, dried flowers, or anything else you can think of! These make a cheap and thoughtful present for friends and family.

Meltdown broken crayons to create rainbow combinations

Broken Crayons
Image credit: Shutterstock / Andy LeBlanc

This is a great one to try with the kids.

Collect all those broken crayons and rip the paper off.

Next, grab a muffin tin and line each well with parchment paper.

Now, put a handful of crayons into each muffin case. You can choose to separate each color or you can mix them to make rainbow crayons.

Then, bake them for around 7 to 8 minutes at 270°F. They melt fast so keep your eyes on them.

Once you’ve taken them out and allowed them to cool down, rip off the parchment paper and you have a whole new set of crayons.

Time to get creative!

Woman making candles
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Norb_KM

There are so many ideas here to suit a range of budgets and skill levels!

Many of these hacks involve materials you probably have sitting at home already. This is just a way to put them to better use, reducing your waste and environmental impact along the way.

Hopefully, you have success creating something new from something old. Happy crafting!

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