They say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” 

However, not all discarded items become treasured objects. 

More often than not, household waste such as newspapers, glass bottles, cans, cardboard, and other home items left unused end up in landfills

In 2017, households in the United Kingdom (UK) produced 27 million tonnes of waste. If you think about it, that’s roughly 900 pounds of rubbish per person!

It’s also no surprise that the tremendous amount of trash that ends up landfills each year is damaging for the environment. 

  • More than half of overfilled landfill waste contains decomposing materials, which cause the air of surrounding areas to be polluted. 
  • Creating new landfill sites to make room for more waste may lead to the loss of 300 species per hectare. 
  • Toxic chemicals from landfills can seep through the ground and contribute to water pollution, in addition to contaminating the soil. 

Because of this, some have made environmentally conscious efforts to reduce household waste. One of the ways by which one can decrease waste is through upcycling, which is a creative way of repurposing unused items and giving them a second life. 

When an item’s useful life ends, it either gets stored, becomes clutter, or gets tossed into the wastebin. 

But with upcycling, you can extend an object’s lifespan by converting it into valuable items. 

If you don’t know what to do with the stuff lying around at your home, this blog article will inspire you to give old items a new purpose with these creative upcycling ideas.


1. Turn Empty Tins into Colorful Garden Planters

empty tins

In every household in the UK, tea is an everyday staple, and not just for afternoons. When the tea bags run out, you can easily upcycle empty tins into attractive planters! 

Make your home garden greener by ditching store-bought plastic pots and creating your tea tin planters by checking out the instructions from Demetres

Apart from empty tins, you can also upcycle unused cans, old drawers, colanders, coffee pots, and even rain boots into planters—the possibilities are endless, really! Be sure to explore the helpful guides on how to create do-it-yourself garden planters from Country Living.  

2. Transform Glass Bottles into Wall Vases

glass bottles made into vases

Plenty of pantry staples—bread spreads, milk, preserves, and pasta sauce—come in glass jars and bottles. Most of these we turn into food containers. But what about those that no longer have lids?

If you’re looking for other ways to repurpose your glass bottles, here’s another great upcycling idea: Why not turn them into stylish wall vases?

Just gather your empty glass bottles, clean them, and paint them in designs and patterns that fit your artistic taste. (We prefer those vintage amber glass bottles that are already pretty as they are!)

The only tricky part to upcycling bottles is figuring out how to attach them to your wall without being too much of a hassle. Thankfully, Shanty2Chic has a  tutorial on how to easily create and install wall vases from upcycled glass bottles at a low cost. 

3. Create Personalised Gift Bags Using Newspapers 

pile of newspapers

If you have stacks of old newspapers lying around at home and haven’t quite figured out what to do with them, don’t throw them in the bin just yet! 

With the holidays coming up, a timely upcycling craft idea is making DIY gift bags!

With just a pair of scissors, tape, glue, and the right paper-folding techniques, you can turn your old newspapers into gift bags. 

Got leftover coffee in the pot? Paint it over your paper bag to give it a rustic, old-fashioned finish.

You can also personalise the gift bags any way you want by using glue dried leaves or flowers, jute string, washi tape, or paper stickers. 

Take a look at this do-it-yourself (DIY) craft article for some easy instructions on how to create your first upcycled gift bag from newspapers.

4. Organise Your Files with a Repurposed Dish Rack

dish rack

Do you have an unused dish rack that’s seen better days? 

You can free up space in your kitchen by repurposing it into a nifty file organiser! 

It may seem odd to move away from sorting dishes in the kitchen to arranging office documents in a dish rack. However, a dish rack of an appropriate size might surprise you with the space and organisation it can provide to help you keep your documents, scrapbooks, photo albums, and folders in place.

You can also design your folders to match the colour of your dish rack or repaint the dish rack in the colour of your choice. 

Repurpose your dish rack into an organiser by checking out the instructions from Cozy Little House

5. Turn An Old Photo Frame into a Nifty Key Holder

Are you someone who always loses their keys? 

If you have an old photo frame lying around, a DIY key holder will make misplacing your house or car keys a thing of the past! 

For this project, all you need aside from your photo frame are wall hooks (that you might have lying around), a small poster board, a decorative ribbon, and hot glue. 

First, clean your photo frame. (Optional: You can paint it to give it a fresh look.) 

Next, attach the poster board to the picture frame and hot-glue the ribbons or any embellishments you would like to add. For easy identification, you can also stick labels onto your key holder. 

Lastly, hot-glue the hooks to complete your key holder. Easy, right?

Spare yourself the worry of losing your keys by making DIY key holders that fit perfectly on the wall next to the front door. For detailed instructions, check out the tutorial at Do It Yourself Fun Ideas. 

6. Reuse Kitchen Jars into Crayon Holders 

Crayons in a glass jar

Are you having trouble making use of old kitchen jars?  

Move them out of the kitchen and into your home office for a new purpose!

Clean out your jars and design them to your liking. For a rustic look, you may wrap the top part of the jar with a jute string and coat the body of the jar with flat white paint. 

By upcycling kitchen jars into crayon holders, you’ll never have to fuss over looking for them in cramped and disorganised drawers. Hooray for productivity!

To know more about creating a space for your crayons, pens, pencils, and other craft tools using your old kitchen jars, check out the instructions from GirlJustDIY.

7. Organize Your Jewellery Using a Revamped Garden Rake

Garden rake leaning on a shed

Got an old garden rake with a broken handle? You can repurpose it into a jewellery organiser! 

It’s quite a curious thing to think how an old garden tool could help you sort your bits and bobs. But with a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, a refurbished garden rake may be at par with conventional organisers. 

Simply remove the handle and sand down the metal part of the rake. You can apply a fresh coat of paint and add embellishments to suit your aesthetic. Voila! You now have a jewellery organiser!

Similar to other upcycled wall decors, figuring out how to hang the upcycled rake organiser on the wall can be challenging. Thankfully, you can get the more detailed instructions from Thinking Closet so you can fashionably hang your necklaces and bracelets with an upcycled garden rake.

8. Repurpose Old Light Bulbs into a Candle Holder

two light bulbs on a table

Most folks discard busted light bulbs right away when they can no longer fix them. 

But what if they can help bring light to your home in another way? 

Simply find a large cylindrical glass vase and place a small glass jar inside it. Gather your old light bulbs and use them to fill the space in between the two cylinders. Place a candle inside the glass jar, and you’ve got a fascinating exhibit of light shining through glass. 

If you don’t have cylindrical vases on hand, discover other purposes for your old light bulbs by checking out these easy-to-follow upcycling instructions from Camilla Fabbri Designs.

9. Reinvent a Garden Hose into a Beautiful Wreath 

green garden hose

The key to a perfect lawn is a functioning garden hose. However, garden hoses can leak or break over time, and a simple fix just won’t bring it back to its former glory. 

But don’t toss your broken garden hoses just yet! Try making a garden hose wreath as a unique way to decorate your house’s entranceway. 

Just clean your garden hose, coil it around, secure it (with used wire or string), and add any ornament that you want by tying it with twine. 

You can also customise your upcycled garden hose wreath with any ornament that fits the occasion. Get the complete tutorial in upcycling your garden house into a DIY wreath at Home Depot

10. Sort Your Kitchenware with a Magazine Rack 

plate rack

Are you stressed out at the sight of your unorganised pot lids, baking sheets, and other cookware? 

Chances are, you’ve got an old magazine rack that’s been sitting idle in your living room for ages, an unfortunate casualty of the digital age. 

What if we told you your dusty magazine rack holds the answer to your sorting woes? 

All you need to do is clean your magazine rack, smoothen it with sandpaper, and add a few coats of paint to give it a fresh look. In just three simple steps, you can transform your magazine rack into an ingenious kitchenware sorter!

For detailed instructions, check out the materials and steps at Cookies, Crafts, & Chaos. 

Now that you have acquainted yourself with these upcycling ideas, you are now set on a journey to create new lives for old items. Instead of discarding unused everyday household items and generating more waste, you can always take the greener path that upcycling offers. 

Do you have any other ideas for giving old stuff at home a second shot at life? Share it with us!

Other Articles That May Interest You:

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Starting ‘Em Young: 7 Tips to Raise Sustainably Aware Kids

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Break Up with Plastic: 11 Easy Tips to Help You Reduce Plastic Use

10 Ways to Make Money While Saving the Environment

About The Author

May can usually be found reading an eco magazine absorbed in the latest gripping articles on all things eco! May is passionate about the environment. May believes in looking and feeling good whilst living an eco friendly lifestyle. In her spare time she loves cooking, playing her guitar and going for country walks. May lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with friends, family and her two adorable cats.

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