20 Clever Upcycling Ideas To Turn Your Trash Into Treasure

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These upcycling ideas will turn your trash into treasure!

woman holding empty glass jar over recycling bin

Save money and the planet at the same time with these fun and inspiring upcycling ideas and turn things you’d ordinarily toss in the trash into something useful!

What is upcycling?

Upcycling is the process of transforming old or discarded materials into something useful or of higher value. Oftentimes, upcycling involves creatively reusing items in their current state or with minimal modifications.

shoe boxes on table with wrapping paper

1. Upcycle shoe boxes for stylish storage.

Before tossing away a thick shoebox or greeting card box, consider using it for office or craft room storage. I covered these bulk greeting card boxes in stylish shelf liner paper and I use them in my office area as pretty yet functional storage!

empty medicine bottles with bandages

2. Make a mini first aid kit from a pill bottle.

Re-purpose prescription pill bottles into mini first aid kits by including a few bandages, antiseptic wipes, and some allergy or pain relievers.

A Hip2Save reader suggested more upcycling ideas for pill bottles:

“Our empty medicine bottles are the perfect storage for a stack of quarters. Good for beads, buttons, and little stuff.” – Lora

upcycled toilet paper holders with wires

3. Organize household cords with toilet paper rolls.

Use toilet paper rolls to keep all your electrical cords labeled and organized. I embellished mine with duct tape and scrapbook paper.

hand holding old bath and body works candle with upcycled jars in background

4. Upcycle empty candle jars.

I added pretty knobs to the tops of these Bath & Body Works candle jars for easy and adorable bathroom storage! Check out these directions for how to reuse candles!

clear snack containers with food inside

5. Use food containers for on-the-go snacks.

Re-purpose smaller plastic food containers as convenient and portable food storage for snacks. Keep them in your pantry or take snacks to go in your purse, diaper bag, or to the beach!

mason jars with pencils and erasers inside

6. Organize with empty Mason jars.

Use Mason jars or glass food container jars to organize everything from craft and office supplies to pantry items! They are so versatile and can serve so many purposes.

wipes container on counter

7. Store plastic bags in empty wipes containers.

An empty wipes container makes a great way to travel with trash sacks or empty grocery bags for the beach or campsite. When empty, use it to keep wet bathing suits separate, as well.

close up of mason jar pin cushion upcycle

8. Stick with this pin-worthy Mason jar.

How cute is this Mason jar pin cushion and mending kit?! I created this cute pin cushion in about 10 minutes with this fun tutorial from SeasonedHomeMaker.com – all I did was hot glue a ball of cotton filling and a piece of fabric to a Mason jar lid and then placed my sewing items inside!

coffee container upcycle with baby wipes and diapers

9. Upcycle a coffee container into a wipes holder.

Reuse those oversized plastic coffee containers to store your homemade baby wipes made from a roll of paper towels. Check out the full instructions and video in this oldie but goodie of a post!

diy hand washing station on table outside

10. Create a DIY hand washing station.

Keep your campsite or outdoor party organized with a smart hand washing station. Fill an empty and clean detergent container with water and use the spout for hand washing.

wasabi tape on pencil holder

11. Craft a Washi tape pencil holder from an old tin can.

Upcycle tin cans by covering them with different colored Washi tape. Group them together for stylish and functional pencil and office supply organizing.

desk with upcycled cereal boxes

12. Upcycle cereal boxes for desk organization.

There’s more to cereal boxes than the toy surprise! Use the empty containers to create a pretty and functional desk organizer like the one seen here.

beer packaging coasters diy

13. Make DIY coasters out of beer packaging.

Save the cardboard boxes from your favorite brands of beer and use them to make these unique drink coasters.

white hangers with clothes

14. Use aluminum tabs in the closet for more space.

These aluminum tabs double your hanging space by allowing you to stack hangers! So smart and easy!

tupperware lids

15. Keep a lid on your old CD storage rack.

Don’t toss that old CD rack! Instead, use it to keep unruly storage container lids in order! Don’t have a CD rack? You can often find them at thrift stores.

Plastic hanger on tortilla chips bag and recipe book

16. Upcycle pant hangers for chip clips in a pinch.

Plastic pant hangers can easily be re-used as chip clips. Consider using one as a clever cookbook holder while making a recipe too!

sports jersey tote on floor

17. Create a useful tote bag from an old jersey.

Don’t toss your old sports uniform. Cut it up instead! Hip2Save reader Michelle surprised her coaches with these tote bags upcycled from old jerseys.

close up of map frames
Source: In the Wabe

18. Use an old map to make a unique travel gift.

Give a plain picture frame a new look! An old map and Mod Podge can transform your frame into a thoughtful gift for a traveler. See the full DIY on In the Wabe here!

blue colander hanging flower basket
Source: Bird’s Eye Meeple

19. Turn an old colander into a whimsical plant holder.

Give your front porch a makeover! Repurpose an old colander into a functional planter. See the full DIY instructions on the Bird’s Eye Meeple blog.

close up of floral fabric rings on white background
Source: Sarah Hearts

20. Use fabric scraps to make a new fashion accessory.

Save your sewing scraps and use them to create a custom bracelet. Wrap a strip of fabric around a bangle and secure it with Mod Podge. Get the full instructions on the Sarah Hearts website.

Want more upcycling ideas? Give your decor a makeover with this spray paint hack!

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in Today.com, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 49

  1. A

    Number 15, clever idea. Where can I find cd rack similar to that one?

    • Amber

      You could also search wire plate rack. Seems big lots may have something similar.

      • A

        Thank you. Plate rack have only 8-10 slots so wanted to know where I can find these cd rack

        • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

          Thrift stores like Goodwill.

    • peachcraze

      I found one similar to this at a thrift store and have been using it for my lids for years. It’s awesome!

  2. Mary

    I LOVE #4 and #7. Thanks so much for all those great ideas!

  3. Katie

    I use those screw top ice cream containers for the millions of nails/screws in our garage. We have so many and the cardboard boxes they come in don’t last long.

  4. acgold

    I also use tissue boxes to store plastic grocery bags.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh good one thanks for adding!

  5. Erin

    I keep tp rolls in the laundry room to make firestarters from the dryer lint. I’ve also started saving cardboard egg cartons to make firestarters for the grill and/or firepit.

    • Sara

      I like to use egg cartons for fire starters as well but our normal grocery store has styrofoam ones. I never though to use toilet paper tubes! Another way I make them is to use cotton rounds (you could use cotton balls too) to soak up the wax from my wax warmer when I’m ready to change out the scents. I just leave a little bit of the cotton exposed to use as the part to light.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice Erin! Thanks!

  6. Ann

    I’ve tried the Tupperware lid cd storage. It takes up too much space in a cabniet. (Unless you keep it on your counter like a drying rack,). I found it better to put all kids, or all kids of a brand or size in an open cardboard box (similar to the cut green cereal box in tip 12)
    Also for 16, I also use pants holders for outside on the laundry line like clothes pins, or I break the hanger and use the clips on chip/candy/cereal bags, clip to wires/cords and label them with sharpie too.

  7. patricialavenz-goff

    I have some old wooden boxes (not sure what was in them as they are old with no labels) that I keep my pot lids in right next to my pans. I have used coffee creamer bottles to make a bowling game with. The kids spray painted them and filled them with a little sand so they stand up better and then used a ball to knock them down. My granddaughter has made doll houses with old boxes and keeps doll clothes in old shoe boxes. My favorite is years ago produce used to come in these plastic containers to the grocery store and they had lids. I use them under the beds to keep the kids toys. I have also used those under the bed cardboard boxes at times.

  8. Lora

    Our empty medicine bottles are the perfect storage for a stack of quarters. Good for beads, buttons, and little stuff. It’s nice to see up-cycle suggestions like this.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice ideas thanks Lora!

    • Robyn

      I take old medicine bottles and USE to put a stack of quarters in them, I think it fits $20 and decorate the outside with washi tape and give them as part of a graduation present for college laundry. But most use cards, no change anymore. Still a good idea I think! Always good for an emergency! You never know!

  9. beaglemom46

    Thanks for the ideas Lina. We store our lids like #15 and it makes finding and storing the lids much easier. I like to save the glass pasta sauce bottles since they are like a mason jar. I use them to pour homemade broth and other cooking liquids inside. I also use them to store rice, quinoa, and dry goods where there is not much left to warrant keeping the while bag or box. We use the toilet paper cardboard roll as temporary pet toys. Cutting small vertical slices around each opening, makes it like a little firework the cats can play with. Finally, I like to reuse deep plastic lids like the ones from a Dairy Queen blizzard or to reuse yogurt cups as containers for growing plant seedlings before transferring them to the garden. I look forward to trying #16.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh those are are brilliant! Thanks for sharing πŸ’•

  10. Cmascio2002

    Boy, you all are so creative. Thanks for all the great ideas!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for visiting today!

  11. hollyp1234

    I love the coaster idea! Very cool.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks! Those are fun to make!

  12. moira

    Idh trash
    (Idh stands fro I don’t have

  13. savanna

    wow, this is so cool and it really works so well with all the trash my parents thank it is hoarding but it is reusing.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Glad you found this helpful Savanna!

  14. Jackie

    Great ideas Lina! With the economy so crazy right now and interest rates up and Gas….ok you get my point. Every cent counts big time now! I started up cycling items around my house also and this post gave me even more ideas. I have been saving the big fresh Parmesan tubs from Sam’s. It’s a clear square tub and I took the label (so easy with goo gone) and with my Cricut made a cute laundry label and I have all my tide pods in there. With the same tub I made one for the grocery bags that I use to line my bathroom trash cans and I save them in there. Those plastic tubs are perfect for so many things to be stored in. The mason jar idea with the pin cushion I will for sure try it this weekend. Very cute and cleaver β™₯️.

  15. Pat Goff

    I use a few vintage ice buckets to keep my coffee filters in on the counter and my sandwich baggies in. They look gorgeous. I have an old seed box that I keep my Tupperware lids in. I have some old crystal decanters I got in Germany that I keep on a mirrored tray in my bathroom full of Listerine. They are very pretty and useful. I have some old tissue plastic boxes with jewels glued to them (50’s maybe) that I keep my make up in on my dresser in the bathroom. I love reusing my vintage treasures to hold things in. I have some old hand painted sugar bowls that I keep on my desk full of paper clips and pens. If it is beautiful I try to reuse it.

  16. jaimiv

    I get my pills in a bottle that is about 3-4 inches. I put all my manicure stuff in one. It is the best thing I ever did. I also have one that holds all my favorite eyeliners, Brow pencils and mascara. I never have to look for them.

  17. Sammie

    I have a tiny stash of those Talenti jars and can’t seem to get the label off (#4). What product/method did you use to remove it?

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hmmm I honestly may have just turned it around to not see the label. You can try goo gone maybe?

    • Jackie

      It’s really hard but what I do is soak them in hot water, then use acetone. I get a cotton ball or paper towel and soak it on leave it on for like 30 seconds then scrub it good. Do a small section at a time. Then wash them in soapy water at the end yo remove the acetone

  18. Pammyjo

    I use the little plastic jugs from Sams Club nuts to keep ice melt in. After shoveling snow, I just grab one or two jugs and apply where needed. The wide mouth makes it easy to access, and sometimes I use a spray can cap or laundry soap cap as a scoop. (I also enjoyed consuming all those lightly salted cashews.)

  19. dabbilicious

    This year I used cardboard egg cartons to start my garden with seeds I picked up at the Dollar Tree (4/$1). They have all sprouted and are ready to move to a big pot and will be easy to transfer with the biodegradable egg carton.

  20. acgold

    I use the Oui glass yogurt containers for craft items, beads, desk items and small leftovers. I buy the plastic lids on eBay really cheap, We use the square plastic containers from Costco and Aldi nuts to supplement or OXO and Walmart cannisters. I didn’t want to buy/invest in anymore of them. They are pretty airtight and have screw lids. I use the Talenti containers when I have a small amount left in the cannisters, pls for arts & crafts and desk supplies. I have called Unilever and suggested they make them “nestable” so they are easier to store empty.

  21. Martha Huggins

    These are great ideas and I would also suggest considering before we buy items what will become of all the packaging. for example, coffee can be purchased in bags and also in bulk at food co-ops.

  22. Pat Goff

    I have some old fruit crates that I got at thrift stores and use them for storage. I keep my pot lids in one and my tupperware lids in another. I think they used to hold fruits as they have pictures of fruits on them. I have some smaller seed ones that I use to keep gravy mixes and other mixes in. I have some old crates that I keep my record collection in and some fruit boxes that I keep books in. I have them one on top of each other and made a book case with it. I have some old wooden berry boxes that I use in my medicine closet to keep prescriptions organized. The larger one has kids medicine in it and the two smaller ones have my personal meds in them. I love repurposing things.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing about the types of crates you’ve kept and how you’ve reused them! SO cool! πŸ™Œβ€οΈ

  23. Crb

    This is awesome! Thank you πŸ™

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re very welcome! πŸ₯°

  24. Mary

    I have an antique picnic basket with a wooden lid that I keep my Tupperware lids in. It sits on top of my antique cupboard. Decoration and function.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Sounds perfect, Mary! Thanks a bunch for sharing how you keep your Tupperware lids cute and organized! πŸ€—

  25. wendy

    Love the Colander Plant one

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Me too, Wendy! πŸͺ΄πŸ₯°

  26. Sparkle63

    So glad to see these ideas. Many we have been doing for years. If everyone did some of these we would have less in out landfills! Win,win!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yay! Thanks for the feedback! Happy you’re loving all of these upcycling tips! Awesome that you’ve already been doing most of them! πŸ™Œ

  27. Pat

    Did I miss something with the colander planter? It looks like she just put soil in the colander without any kind of liner. The soil is going to fall out of those holes. I would line it with that moss stuff, or at least some landscape fabric.
    Also, Dollar Tree sells a chain that work perfect for that with hooks, eliminating the need for bolts.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      It does look like the author for that idea was just able to add the soil. You could try a liner or moss if needed depending on the style of Colander you have. ❀️ I’ve seen that chain from Dollar Tree too! Thanks for mentioning that, Pat! πŸ€— Let us know how yours turns out if you decide to give it a try! πŸ’

  28. Jen

    I donate old prescription bottles to our vet and animal shelters.

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