Think about all the non-food items you’ve thrown away over the last few weeks. Can you honestly say that everything needed to be discarded? The simple truth is that too many people consign household items to the local refuse centre prematurely.
Even the most mundane of household items might have a future if they’re repurposed in some way. Upcycling involves putting these items to use in a different way. The more people do it, the less waste there’ll be in landfill sites around the country.
Upcycling can be fun. But it also serves a practical purpose. If you use certain items in the right way, you can reduce clutter in your home. This usually makes cleaning easier. And in some, cases upcycling has the potential to save you money.
We’ve compiled a list of clever and simple upcycling hacks that make organising your home a lot easier.
1. Turn used jars into storage canisters
Most people throw their empty jam and pickle jars straight in the bin when they’re empty. But with a little creativity, you can turn them into attractive storage options. And you can have a lot of fun doing it, too.
Clean the jar and the lid thoroughly. Spray the lid with a paint of your choice. Black works well in most kitchens. Find an old doorknob, and attach it to the lid to create an attractive handle. And that’s it. You can use your upcycled food jar to store everything from coffee beans to sweets.
2. Turn baby wipe boxes into containers
Despite warnings about their impact on the environment, we still use millions of baby wipes every day. Wherever possible, buy your wipes in large plastic tubs instead of single-use plastic wrappers. These boxes usually feature a clickable lid. Decorate the boxes accordingly, and you can use them to store paints, pencils, food, jewellery, and just about any small item you can think of.
3. Turn an old ice cube tray into trinket storage
If you’ve ever bought a new freezer, the chances are you received a free ice cube tray with it. If you don’t use your tray, don’t throw it away. Instead, paint it an appropriate colour, and use it on a dressing table to store jewellery and small fashion accessories.
4. Turn plastic bottles into charging stations
Do you charge your phones at power outlets near the floor? If you do, you may have to leave your phone on the floor as it charges. This is a tripping hazard, and it puts your phone in harm’s way. But there’s a low-tech solution, and it involves using an old lotion bottle.
Cut your bottle in half, while leaving a section along its back that can be held in place with a plug. What you should be left with is a plastic tray, which is perfect for holding your phone and the charger wires.
5. Turn hangers into storage rails
Clothes hangers have a tendency to multiply in cupboards, closets and wardrobes. Every time we buy a new item of clothing in a store, we’re asked if we’d like the hanger. And despite having hundreds more at home, we say “yes.”
But don’t start throwing away your coat hangers too soon. Paint or decorate them, and use them for hanging necklaces, hair accessories and anything else you need to get ready in the morning. In fact, you can use old clothes hangers in just about every room in your home.
6. Use cardboard boxes to organise drawers
Most of us have at least one drawer that’s a dumping ground for our possessions. These drawers contain wires, loose change, old mobile phones, and just about every small item you can think of. So when you need to find something, the process is a lot harder than it should be.
Organise your drawer into compartments with lengths of cardboard. Cut slits at regular intervals, and slot each length into the next to create separate sections within your draw. For example, in a square drawer, you can create nine equally sized compartments with just four strips of cardboard.
7. Turn an old ladder into shelves
You never know what you might find in an old shed… or even at the local car boot sale. Take an old, wooden step ladder, for example. While it might look like it’s ready for the scrapheap, it could be set for a new lease of life. Just because it can’t take a person’s weight anymore doesn’t mean it’s of no use.
Sand the ladder down, and paint it a colour that’s appropriate for the room. Carefully lean the ladder against the wall, and decorate it with lights and craft materials. You can now use the ladder to display everything from books to ornamental features.
8. Upcycle toilet roll cylinders
One thing we all waste a lot of is the humble toilet roll cylinder. This ugly piece of cardboard usually ends up in the bin. But it has a number of potential uses in the average home.
For example, use your old toilet roll cylinders to organise and store cables. Stick seeds to it and use it as a makeshift bird feeder. The possibilities are almost endless. This ubiquitous cardboard can be used for organising yarn, making your own Christmas crackers, arts and crafts with the kids, and even making elegant gift containers.
9. Turn a vintage suitcase into a chair
If you have an old, dusty suitcase that has been handed down from generation to generation, put it to use in your home. Clean it up, and stitch some cushions into it. Attach some legs to the bottom, and you have a rustic chair you won’t find in the shops.
10. Turn foldable chairs into wall-mounted storage
Foldable wooden chairs are perfect for making storage solutions out of nothing. Paint the chair an appropriate colour, and mount it on the wall. When not in use, the chair can be folded away and almost hidden. But when you need additional storage space, open it up. You can store large items on the seat, as well as on the rungs on the back of the chair. And if there’s a pole connecting the legs, you can use these to hang clothes and possessions.
There’s very little in your home that can’t be saved and put to better use. If you have a little imagination and a desire to create things from nothing, almost everything in your home has an alternative purpose.