Tom Mrazek

Green Tips: “Upcycling” Your Old Stuff

Green Tips | May 3, 2018

Spring cleaning is a great way to clear out clutter, but rather than throw your old stuff away, give it a second life by “upcycling,” or reusing it for something else. Here are some creative tips we collected on how to reduce your waste by repurposing common household items. Enjoy!

  1. Clothes, Sheets, and Other Textiles

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York residents and businesses throw away almost 1.4 billion pounds of recyclable textiles, including clothing, shoes, accessories, drapes, towels, and sheets each year. Donating old clothes is a great way to reduce your textile waste, but if you’re feeling crafty, why not give it a second life?

  • Sheets: Turn old bed sheets into new curtains. Check out this how-to video for pretty easy directions.
  • T-Shirts: The World Wildlife Fund says it can take more than 700 gallons to produce the cotton needed to make a single cotton t-shirt. Why throw it away after it goes out of style? Make a tote bag out of it. Or for something a bit more challenging, turn an old t-shirt into a throw pillow.
  • Shoes: Donating old shoes is probably the best way to deal with footwear, but lots of people have repurposed shoes into mini herb gardens or cactus pots.
  1. Dish Rack

Use your old dish rack as a desktop file organizer. The silverware cup makes a great pen holder. Check out this example.

  1. Ice-cube Trays

Have some old ice-cube trays laying around? Fill up the cups with assorted snacks for your kid or at your next lunch or dinner party. Also, you can try using them as drawer organizers for smaller items, like push pins or paper clips.

  1. Desk or Dresser Drawers

Why not pull out the drawers from an old dresser and repurpose them as space-saving shelves? Here are a bunch of ways to re-use old drawers.  

  1. Garden Rake

Who would have thought you could turn that old garden rake into a wine glass or coat rack? This is a really easy way to reuse some old garden supplies and save space in your cabinets and closets. Check out this detailed tutorial.

  1. Paper, paper, paper

Paper is another item that should be recycled, but lots of paper products can be reused over and over again. For example, an easy way to extend the life of an old newspaper is to turn it into wrapping paper. Also, try making envelopes out of old calendars. One Green Planet put together a super creative list of these and other suggestions here.

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