Upcycling Ideas for Repurposing Household Items and Reducing Waste

Woman jeans bag - upcycling ideas

Ever wondered how you managed to have so much stuff in your house? Upcycling ideas are gaining momentum and people are getting rid of things in droves. Even when something does not “spark joy” in its current form, you can still repurpose it into something useful or beautiful using the right upcycling ideas.


You can breathe new life into items that you no longer want or need by upcycling them – or repurposing and reusing them. The benefits of these upcycling ideas are objective and include both emulating the Zero Waste principles and saving money over buying new items. In addition, upcycling ideas leads to a more serene space, decorated to your taste with a story and personal touch.


What Is Upcycling? 

A young girl handcrafting ornaments as part of the best upcycling ideas

As the name implies, upcycling involves reusing unwanted items or turning them into something new that is often artistic. It is the opposite of downcycling, which involves converting products into inferior materials – for example, converting synthetic fibers into plastic composites.


As people seek ways to lessen their consumer impact, the term has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Of course, upcycling has been practiced for much longer, and it often took place out of necessity rather than concern for the environment. 


Upcycling ideas do not require a lot of creativity, as many people believe. You can reuse a lot of items without much time or even a glue gun while getting crafty. Our list of upcycling projects ranges from decorative to steadfastly utilitarian, making this the perfect blog post for novices to experts alike.


In a zero waste lifestyle, there are no limits to what you can do. After a while, you discover you can improve your environmental stewardship in several ways that interconnect. You can repurpose existing objects almost endlessly by upcycling. Read on for dozens of upcycling ideas including the essentials of upcycling. 


Best Upcycling Ideas for Repurposing Household Items


1. Upcycling Ideas for the Living Room

Woman, Painting, Brush, Ink, Craft. Upcycling ideas.

Toilet paper rolls to organize drawers


Repurposing classic items is one of the easiest ways to save money. It is possible to arrange the toilet paper rolls upright in a drawer to make it easier to sort items and save space. Even socks and underwear can be used to make cables and cords. Shorter or smaller items, like hair ties or jewelry, can also be accommodated by cutting rolls in half.


Furniture


Since ancient times, people have upcycled furniture legs and stands by combining them with new components. It is more common now to upcycle modern tables, couches, chairs, and hightops into previously unseen furniture functions. 


No matter how many pieces of furniture you want to repurpose, we compiled the best upcycled furniture ideas for you. Check out these amazing upcycled furniture ideas:


  • Combining shelves, drawers, and containers
  • Repaint tables, chairs, stools, couches, cabinets, and drawers
  • Reupholster couches and chairs
  • Use books to create a side table
  • Using an old crib to store toys, crafts, or clothes

Art


There are plenty of ways to upcycle art, believe it or not! Maybe your sculpture, mosaic, painting, or other art piece has lost its luster. A great Green Day activity is upcycling art, whether you are doing it with your children or with your partner. 


Upcycle your art and minimize waste with these cool ideas:


  • Make a wreath with dried flowers by repurposing them
  • Make a brand new stone or piece of art by breaking down broken birdbaths, mosaics, or concrete stepping stones
  • Create a quilt out of old pants, t-shirts, bags, blankets, and jackets
  • Become an Earth-friendly decorator by upcycling old yarn, rope, or twine
  • Create hanging planters or hanging gardeners from old glasses, soda bottles, pots, or plastic containers that are partially broken.
  • With a scavenged stick and organic/reused twine, hang old metal or aluminum container lids as wind chimes
  • Create a maze or toy landscape out of random, discarded objects and old toys
  • Create collages, prints, or other artwork from old magazines, brochures, and newspapers

2. Upcycling Ideas for the Bedroom

Recycled DIY pallet platform bed in modern bedroom. Upcycling ideas.

Are you aware that each t-shirt takes 2,700 liters of water to produce? There are so many things you can make from old linens and clothing items that we could write an entire article about them. However, here are some bedroom upcycling ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 


Old bedding and blankets 


When attending concerts or sporting events, move your old blanket to the car and use it as a picnic blanket or bench cushion. Alternatively, you can upcycle your sustainable bedding into shower curtains, smocks, aprons, pillows, or pet bed items by turning them into shower curtains or window curtains. 


Rather than sewing your bed linens, cut them up to use as rags or cleaning cloths. You can substitute cotton sheets for plastic landscaping cloth in your garden.


Read More: How to Choose Eco-Friendly Bedding and Mattresses for a Sustainable Bedroom


Clothing


Among the most cost-effective and ancient upcycling ideas, clothing is one of the most popular. An average American spends $120 a month on new clothes, but about 85% of them end up in landfills. Every year, that amounts to wasting $1,200!


By upcycling your clothes, you avoid wasting money and reduce your household expenses. Upcycling clothes has never been easier: Here are upcycling ideas that will blow your mind: 


  • Make a tablet cover or a welcome mat out of old jeans or pants
  • Make a throw pillow cover out of baby clothes
  • Use old sweaters or t-shirts to make a reusable handbag that is the perfect size
  • Make beverage cup sleeves out of a worn-out sweater
  • Make an eye-catching quilt out of old flannel shirts
  • Make zippered bags with old ties to hold accessories
  • Create a camera strap from an old scarf
  • Creating holiday stockings out of old pajamas or pants
  • Make pillowcases, totes, and dresses out of old shirts. 
  • Use old children’s overalls as doorstops by stuffing them with sand. 
  • Use denim pants legs as draft stoppers by filling them with cotton or linens.

Shoes


Turning otherwise throwaway products into like-new footwear is possible by upcycling. There is no limit to how you can upcycle footwear, from sandals to slippers to heels. 


Upcycle shoes in these amazing ways: 


  • Create a new design by adding eco-friendly soles and ironing on a print
  • Make herb gardens out of old shoes
  • Plant plants, such as succulents, in the balls of the soles
  • Make the bottoms bookends by adding weight
  • Use old flip-flops as a door “wreath” for spring or summer

Jewelry


You can upcycle jewelry alone, with a spouse, or with your family. What’s in style today may not be in style tomorrow because fashion trends change constantly. 


Although jewelry may lose its fashion utility over time, that’s not an excuse to throw it out. It is often costly to buy jewelry, so it deserves a second or third chance. Here are 6 upcycling ideas for jewelry:


  • Using vintage jewelry as a frame for photos or mirrors
  • Make your old gold jewelry look brand new by combining it with new pieces
  • Make a new piece of jewelry by taking old jewelry to a goldsmith or jeweler
  • Make your piece more interesting by adding silver jewelry
  • For a new bracelet, combine pieces from multiple bracelets
  • Put old rings, bracelets, necklaces, and gems on old boxes or containers to make them more decorative

Old candles


Even though it may seem insignificant, candle ends build up throughout a romantic dinner or a relaxing bath. By collecting old candle ends, removing the wicks, and heating them in a double boiler, you can easily melt old wax into new candles. Once you get the hang of this upcycling project, you can experiment with different colors, scents, shapes, and sizes. 


Do the following:


  • Sort waxes according to their types (soy, paraffin, bees, and so on) as well as their colors and scents. 
  • Break up chunks of waste wax and remove wicks or other contaminants from one type of waste wax.
  • Using reusable molds can make removing the candles easier by spraying them with oil.
  • Fill your molds with pre-waxed wicks.
  • Place one boiling pot inside another. 
  • Wait until the wax melts before adding it to the top pan.
  • Fill your molds with the melted wax.
  • Trim the wick after cooling the wax. Flames are larger with larger wicks.

3. Upcycling Ideas for the Kitchen

An empty dinner table set up for visitors in a flat

Is your kitchen too small to accommodate everything? It’s a common feeling, yeah. These ideas will help you to make some room in your cabinets by repurposing old things in the kitchen.


Bowls and cups


There are so many things you can do with bowls and cups that are old, there is no end to the ideas you can come up with. Use them in creating candles, planters, or pencil holders. Make light fixtures from mason jars. Create an appetizer or cake stand display by gluing a wine glass to an old dish. You can use old coffee pots as fish tanks, plant pots, or terrariums.


Disposable food containers 


The lid of your Tupperware might be missing, but you have several ways to give it new life if you mix and match pieces. With the lid, you can turn them into wipe dispensers or tissue that can be reusable or use them as planters or drawer organizers. Plastic containers can replace expensive compost buckets if you compost.


Broken plates


It is possible to glue your chipped plate unto a post and create a birdbath for yards if it’s just a little chipped. Take the pieces of ceramic and turn them into a mosaic work, such as a photo frame, magnets for refrigerators, stones for gardens, or any other project you can imagine!


Bottles and wine corks


Do you know what lamps, bird feeders, wind chimes, and flower centerpieces all share? You can make them all from empty bottles of wine! It is possible to frost or paint the bottle if you don’t like its color or use paint to write on it.


Don’t forget to keep those corks as well. Using wine corks, you can make magnets, key chains, and stamps. You can also use corks to make bath mats, candle holders, and planters for your home decor if you have a lot of them.


Plastic bottles


Upcycling ideas for plastic bottles include recycling plastic bottles and caps into useful or beautiful items can be done in a variety of ways. To reduce plastic waste, upcycle plastic bottles in the following ways:


  • Decorative divider: String the bottle bottoms together to make a divider. While it’s not private, it adds character to your home.
  • Plant pots: Vertical gardening is an excellent solution. You can make a quaint, working food garden by removing the bottoms and caps from bottles and saving them for other crafts.
  • Abstract art: Placing plastic bottle caps on your canvas, wall, or furniture will allow you to create colorful mosaic patterns. Making sculptures or portraits is also possible by gluing them together.
  • Yarns: Cutting plastic bags into strips and twisting them produces ‘plarn,’ a strong yarn. By knitting or crocheting with plarn, you can create items like reusable grocery bags and waterproof mats.
  • Eco-friendly bricks: To create an eco-friendly brick, fill plastic bottles with waste that is non-biodegradable till it gets as hard as a brick. It is possible to make walls, furniture, or buildings out of these eco-bricks. They are also great for removing non-recyclable waste.
  • Crate storage: You can make a vertical shoe rack or shelf by stacking crates together and using zip ties or screws to secure them together. Organize them in a pattern or orientation that fits the space.

Read More: How to Create a Zero Waste Kitchen in 15 Simple Steps


4. Upcycling Ideas for Bathroom Items

Toilet paper roll recycled as a seedling planters

You cannot donate most of your bathroom items since you use them more frequently than most items in your house. You can repurpose bathroom items in several ways.


Shampoo and soap containers


You can refill empty bottles with soap by taking them to your refill shop. Use soap bottle tops as durable vases or pen holders in your bathroom if you’d like to get a bit more creative. Creating sunglasses cases from them is a great idea.


Bathroom towels


By using your worn-out towels as cleaning cloths, you are also reducing the amount of paper that goes to landfills. Make a tote bag out of your old bath towels if you know how to use a thread and needle.


Toothbrushes


Ensuring your teeth remain clean is not the only purpose of a toothbrush; it can also be useful for cleaning other things. People also use it to clean areas that are difficult to access, such as window sills, jewelry, gears, wood trim, and faucets and knobs. Furthermore, you can use old toothbrushes to clean your keyboard and detail your car.


Rolls of toilet paper


You probably use more toilet paper than you need, that is why experts advise people to always get cardboard-free toilet papers. As seed starter pots or bug-proof seedlings, you can use them for gardening. Alternatively, you can compost them by ripping them up. If you have rolls of toilet paper, you might consider turning them into bird feeders making fire starters.


Are All Upcycling Ideas Great?

Shabby chic renovating and upcycling antique old cabinet furniture to home kitchen improvement. One woman working with hands in indoor happy leisure job activity repairing and working. upcycling ideas.

If you’re looking for more ideas on Pinterest, be mindful when scrolling. Upcycling projects sometimes require dangerous glues, paints, or other materials that can cause health and environmental issues. For an eco-friendly mission, make sure to look out for the following:


  • Consider using non-toxic, biodegradable paints and glues made from natural or water-based materials.
  • Don’t use plastic wrappers, bags, or single-use plastics capable of polluting the environment.
  • Make sure that the plastic bottles and caps you choose are durable and high-quality, so they can last longer.
  • To remove any dirt or residue from plastic bottles, clean them thoroughly before use.
  • If you don’t need the plastic bottles for your project, recycle or donate them.
  • Upcycling has both pros and cons. Educate yourself and others on how to upcycle responsibly.

Further Reading: 15 Successful Tips to Create a Zero Waste Bathroom


Conclusion


Recycling, or upcycling, has substantial environmental benefits. There is a 21% upcycling rate among Americans, reducing the need for new goods to be produced. The process of upcycling reduces air, land, and water pollutants, as well as uses fewer natural resources – thus helping the environment. Also, it prevents excess waste from ending up in landfills.


To reduce your family’s waste and landfill footprint, shift your mentality from “what can I throw away” to “what can I repurpose.” There are countless creative upcycling ideas out there that you can try for yourself, and they can be as intensive or as simple as you like. Just be aware of how to dispose of things you cannot reuse, so you aren’t throwing them away or diverting them to the wrong place.

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