5 Upcycling Ideas to Reuse Household Items

Many of us might have the recycle part down in the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ mantra, but a great way to cover all three Rs is to upcycle old household items. Upcycling isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it has been gaining traction over the years because of its endless flexibility. All you need to do is flex your creative muscle a bit and you can find a use for almost every item in your household. So before you decide to toss that plastic bottle or newspaper, think of ways you can give them new life in your house. As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”


Popsicle Sticks

Not only do Popsicle sticks prevent your hands from getting all sticky, they’re also great for craft projects as they are quite sturdy. If you happen to go through a lot of Popsicles throughout the year, make sure you hold on to the sticks for later use. Make sure you wash the sticks thoroughly to get rid of any leftover sugar. From there, so long as you have a glue gun, nails and a hammer you can pretty much let your imagination run wild. Need a fun coaster idea? How about a miniature pallet coaster? All you need are around 24 Popsicle sticks, some glue and an X-ACTO blade. If you don’t feel like cutting and measuring anything you can also paint some fun designs on the sticks and use them as unique bookmarks. These sticks are incredibly versatile. In fact, they might well be the Lego of the upcycling world since you can modify them as much or as little as you want. They’re also great to use for kid projects because you don’t really need to use any dangerous tools.


Old Magazines

If you’re like a lot of people, you will likely have a pile of magazines that you haven’t yet gone through. While throwing them in the recycling bin is certainly green, go one step further and breathe new life into them by creating some wonderful paper crafts. Origami might seem like the most obvious choice for old magazine pages, but it’s a better idea to put in the extra effort to make something really useful. For example, roll up some pages and glue them together to create a biodegradable planter. Need a new lampshade? No need to buy one! Use pages from an old magazine, glue them together and fold them into a fan and simply attach to the old shade with a glue gun.


Incandescent Bulbs

If you haven’t thrown out all of your incandescent light bulbs yet, make sure to keep them handy for some excellent crafts. Since you’re dealing with glass and wire, these crafts will definitely take a bit more finesse than others, but the results are well worth it. Make sure to always wear gloves when handling glass in case it breaks. You’ll need a pair of pliers, a hammer an awl and a bolt. Use the pliers to remove the metal part of the bulb then an awl to break a grass of the tip. Use the hammer and bolt to pierce the filament and remove the glass and filaments. You can either use a piece of cloth or some sand to take off the inner coating of the bulb. Once you’ve done that you can then transform the bulb into any number of things like a flower vase, terrarium, snow globe, oil lamp and more. If you don’t have all the equipment or just don’t want to run the risk of breaking the bulb while getting to its innards, you can simply decorate the outside of the bulb with some paint or fabric for some great Christmas ornaments.


Toilet Paper Rolls

When you’ve finished a roll of toilet paper generally the last thing on your mind is what you can do with the cardboard roll. While it might not seem glamorous at first there are lots of beautiful crafts you can make out of these cardboard cylinders. One of the simplest things you can do is to make napkin holders out of them. All you need to do is cut the roll into smaller pieces and then glue on either some old fabric or maybe even some wrapping paper to liven it up a bit. It will make your tablescape pop and save you a ton of money on napkin holders. It’s also a great way to organize your many wires. In this day and age of smartphones, laptops, tablets and other wireless devices it can be all too easy to throw them into a pile. Unfortunately this non-organization method leads to twisted and tied cables. Use toilet paper rolls to organize your wires. You can even decorate them so you know what roll holds which cable.


Plastic Bags

Not all places offer the option of paper or plastic and there will always be days where you forget your shopping bag. While you can now recycle these plastic bags you can also use them to create some pretty great fashion. There are a couple different methods you can employ. The first is to cut the bag into strips and then weave the strips so they are tight and close together. If you’re not into weaving, how about crocheting? Yes, you can use plastic bags as yarn and crochet it like you normally would. You can use this method to make your own purses, bags and wallets.

The other method is to “fuse” the plastic together with an iron. All you need to is an ironing board, an iron that has a nylon setting, bags and some paper. Fold the plastic into fourths and then place between two pieces of paper. Iron on both sides for around 15-20 seconds and you have created a piece of plastic fabric. You can fuse together multiple pieces of plastic or sew them together to create beautiful purses with unique designs, wallets or add some flair to your clothes.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look around your home and see what items you might normally throw out or recycle and try to see what other function it can have. You might be surprised to see how many uses you can get out of something as simple as a bottle cap.

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