Amazing Upcycling Ideas That Anyone Can Do!
One does not have to be an environmentalist to enjoy the benefits of upcycling projects. Anyone who derives enjoyment from DIY projects and other creative endeavors will love looking at the following instructions for ideas and inspiration for undertakings of their very own. Or, of course, they can follow along at home as a means of learning new techniques and nurturing their innovation.
- Bike Innterube Wallet: Learn how to transform the innertube of a bike tire into a durable, waterproof wallet that only requires a bit of simple cutting and sewing.
- Old CD Jewelry: Smooth, shiny CDs can make for some stunning, relatively simple and understated jewelry pieces -- and with their rapidly escalating status as obsolete technology, there will be plenty stacking up for these creative DIY projects.
- Birdseed Packaging Lunchbag: Turn a simple birdseed bag (or bit of trash of a similar composition) into an interesting, easy-to-clean lunchbox suitable for everyday use.
- Plastic Bag Headband: Using this technique for creating viable, sewable fabric from plastic bags found at most grocery stores, the green fashionista can whip up a quick headband or bracelet in no time.
- Barrel of Monkeys Bowl: Plastic toy soldiers and the beloved Barrel of Monkeys both make for quirky, fun decorative bowls that add a unique flair to any home.
- Plastic Bag Laptop Case: Upcycle those ubiquitous plastic bags -- many of which fail to biodegrade at an agreeable rate -- into a workable, eco-friendly laptop case.
- Tin Can Organizer Cleaned-up tin cans double as both extremely handy organizers as well as decorative abstracted shapes to pretty up a blank wall.
- Plastic Bottle Jump Rope: Jump ropes act as excellent, cheap equipment for a great workout, and DIY types can fashion for themselves a quick, easy version with plastic bottles and a length of rope.
- Jar or Cup Picture Frame: Display photographs in clear cups or jars as an innovative, cheap way to decorate a home, apartment, or dorm.
- Cereal Box Clock: Make an unorthodox but eye-catching clock out of an old cereal box -- perfect for kitchens, dorms, and children's rooms.
- Wine Bottle Gas Lamp: With a little big of tweaking, empty wine bottles can end up as unusual and interesting gas lamps suitable for outdoor use.
- Dryer Lint Clay: Kids will love the fun, interesting results that come from transforming simple
dryer lint into a pliable little clay.
- Necktie Headband: Another headband project, this time transforming old or fashionably obsolete
neckties into kicky hair décor.
- Boxboard Mini Journals: Create mini journals or notebooks out of leftover bits of cardboard
packaging and old magazines.
- Altoids Box Battery Pack: The versatile little metal Altoids boxes can, among other things, find a
second life as battery packs for a number of different projects.
- Shoe Planter: Orphaned shoes do not have to be thrown out because of a missing partner – they
can be made into planters for small seedlings to begin their lives.
- Teabag Origami: Folding tea bags and their accompanying tags into fashionable, decorative
origami with a number of different amazing applications.
- Shower Curtain Kite: No matter if they are made of cloth or plastic, shower curtains can be used
as the main material in this simple kite pattern.
- Scarf Pillows: Though the instructions call for vintage scarves, these pillows can made from any
eye-catching examples of this particular accessory.
- Plywood Chair: Re-appropriate leftover plywood for use in simple, geometric furniture that adds
a splash of DIY aesthetic to a home.
- Old Denim Tote Bag: No matter if they fall out of fashion or stop fitting, an old pair of jeans can be
turned into any number of great items – including this fun and easy tote bag.
- Customizable Candles: Melt old, nubby candles down into one much larger one, customizing the
colors, patterns, and scents that go best together.
- Bottle Vases: When painted a color that complements the surrounding décor, Starbucks
Frappuccino bottles can turn into cute, fun vases for the mantle or table.
- Soda Can Airplanes: Delight children by giving their empty soda cans a new life as a decorative
airplane. Make several and turn them into a mobile!
- Sweater Pet Bed: With a little bit of cutting and sewing, an old, stretched out sweater makes for a
cozy bed for a cat, dog, or other beloved pet.
- Necktie Hat: Sewing a bunch of unused neckties together may result in an unorthodox but
surprisingly cute, almost Bohemian hat.
- Old Towel Bathmat: Watch this video for detailed instructions on fashioning a viable bath mat
from a frayed, faded towel.
- Oatmeal Box Ribbon Holder: Store ribbons for projects or presents in a decorated oatmeal box
that functions just as well as the specialized products found in craft stores.
- Old Jigsaw Puzzle = New Jigsaw Puzzle: Draw or paint a new scene on the back of a preexisting
jigsaw puzzle to imbue it with double the entertainment value.
- Denim Bunting The always versatile denim jeans or jacket can be reused as bunting for
decorative flags and sewing projects.
- Place Mat Purse: Old cloth placemats provide enough material to make small, surprisingly
fashionable clutch purses.
- Cheese Grater Pencil Holder: Flip a cheese grater up-side down, attach it in the desired location
for added sturdiness, and use the generous space to store multiple writing implements.
- Coffee Grounds Conditioner: Apparently, used coffee grounds make for a natural (if not outright
organic) conditioner that also brings out highlights in brunette hair.
- Christmas Decoration Napkin Rings: Make matching napkin rings out of cardboard toilet paper
tubes and some sort of decoration (Christmas is used here, but any holiday or theme could work)
for quick and easy table accessories.
- Plastic Egg Brooch: It requires a bit of concentration, but plastic Easter Eggs – when cut – can
actually make for an eye-catching brooch shaped like a rose.
- Jewel Case Picture Frames: Dorms and homes alike benefit from the added (and inexpensive)
beauty found in jewel cases re-appropriated as picture frames.
- Stacked Books Table Leg: Turn battered old books into a classy but quirky home accessory. The
example given only utilizes one leg, but several can still make a statement.
- Trash Planner: For those who still keep analog planners, save old packaging material such as
cardboard for use in a small desk calendar.
- Plastic Bag Yarn: Knitters, crocheters, and anyone else into yarn crafting can twist plastic bags
into viable yarns for projects. Try to avoid the biodegradable variety, as they tend to dissolve
- Old Plate Cake Stand: Ceramic plates that have outlived their initial function can still act as
sturdy cake stands for the home or as a gift.
- Denim Jeans Organizer: Another denim project, this time making a functional organizer from the
remains of old jeans, jackets, and skirts.
- Ladder Shelves: Even ladders can serve a number of functions, and many creative decorators
have used them as strong indoor shelving.
- Burlap Sack Garden: Gardeners may be interested in how some of their fellow hobbyists have
utilized burlap coffee bags in their landscapes.
- Pop Top Bracelet: The pop tops off soda cans have provided numerous jewelry makers with
inexpensive (if not free) materials to craft their wares. Here is how to create one such example.
- Newspaper Gift Bag: With a bit of creativity, newspapers can pull a second shift as fun little gift
bags, which work best visually when a large picture spread is used.
- Newspaper Seedling Pots: Newspapers can also serve as cozy homes for new seedlings as well,
provided that responsible gardeners do not overwater.
- Button Wheel Car: Everything on this particular website involves making fun and educational
toys out of bits of trash, but this adorable button wheel car is a charming classic.
- Corkboard Jewelry Holder: Perfect for dorms, this corkboard jewelry holder offers quick access to
necklaces, rings, and earrings without fear of irritating tangles.
- Suit Jacket Backpack: An old, unfashionable, or ill-fitting men's suit coat actually makes for a
very nice, unique backpack for kids.
- Hardcover "Invisible" Bookshelves: A clever visual, the use of a strong hardcover book as a shelf
for several smaller ones creates a great conversation starter when entertaining.
- Tennis Ball Photo Holder: When decorated with the traditional pipe cleaners, felt, and googly
eyes, even tennis balls can serve an unintended, quirky new function.
- Computer Keyboard Bracelet: No matter the favored key, these bracelets make for perfect
accessories and gifts for the unapologetic technology fan.
- Bleach Bottle Piggy Bank: Even Martha Stewart occasionally delves into upcycling projects, here
providing instructions on making a children's piggy bank from a thoroughly clean bleach bottle.
- Audio Cassette and PVC Pipe Insect Catcher: This clever design takes outdated audio cassettes
and bits of leftover PVC pipe and turns them into fully functioning insect catchers.
- Baby Food Jar Snow Globe: Small plastic figurines, a bit of glitter, and some water all go into a
leftover baby food jar to create a delightful, simple snow globe.
- T-Shirt Necklace or Scarf: Make a quirky, slightly sexy fashion statement with a scarf or necklace
created from the remains of a colorful t-shirt.
- Homemade Recycled Paper: Instead of dropping used papers into the recycling bin, make
completely new sheets at home with the pre-existing pulp.
- Old Suitcase Pet Bed: A number of different instructions for a number of different styles of
suitcases are available online, though this version of the pet bed is one of the simplest to follow.
- Cookie Sheet Advent Calendar: Even those who do not follow Advent can still find a suitable
calendar project created from a cookie sheet.
- Plastic Bottle Purses: Plastic bottles can be made into durable, viable coin purses with the quick
addition of a zipper.
- Leather Belt Bracelets: Turn one accessory into another by cutting up leather belts for use in
bracelets. Purchase studs or beads to add a more personal touch.
- Tic Tac Container Organizer: One of the easiest projects on this list, a number of empty Tic-Tac
containers and clear tape make for nice organizers for beads, needles, pins, and other small
- Soda Bottle Herb Garden: Pull double DIY duty by transforming plastic soda bottles into a nice
little herb garden that grows upside-down.
- Wine Bottle Vases: Another project involving wine bottles, this time showing off how their
elegant forms can be turned into striking vases.
- Ear Bud and Funnels Speaker System: This crude-looking but entirely functional speaker system
utilizes relatively simple ear bud and funnel hacks.
- Recycled Book Purse: Fans of literature or quirky, upcycled couture will adore this purse
fashioned from the covers of old or discarded books.
- Tank Top Tote: Tank tops provide all the material necessary to make an absurdly fast tote bag for
anyone in need of a quick containment system.
- Paper Bead Bracelet: Paper beads are one popular method of upcycling interesting bits of gift
wrap or newspaper, and this pattern shows one way of using them in a stylish bracelet.
- Cardboard Cat Chaise: This extremely fun project turns simple slabs of cardboard into a chaise
lounge perfect for a favored feline who probably would not appreciate a store-bought one to
begin with anyways.
- Wine Cork Corkboard: Wine bottles may provide some great materials for upcycling projects, but
wine corks also offer up some use as stylish boards.
- Bottle Cap Game Pieces: Save leftover bottle caps from soda or beer bottles to make an
enjoyable memory game for kids or as replacement pieces for lost pieces.
- Starburst Wrapper Bracelet: An updated twist on the classic gum foil chain, this colorful bracelet
utilizes Starburst wrappers as a workable material.
- Plastic Bag Coasters: Turn largely unaesthetic plastic bags into adorable, customized coasters
that add a personal touch and character to any party.
- Fabric Scrap Ball: Leftover snippets of fabric can be turned into balls for games, occupying
children in the car, or keeping pets stimulated. Cat owners may want to think about filling them
with catnip for added fun.
- Cassette Tape Wallet: Transform obsolete technology into newfangled fashion by keeping plastic
cassette tapes out of the landfill and using them as a nifty wallet.
- Cardboard Campaign Sign Chairs: For those who do not mind wearing their politics in their home
or on their sleeve, these fantastic little chairs made of campaign signs do the trick nicely.
Literally hundreds of other instructions for fun, functional, and funky upcycling projects abound
online. Anyone with an urge to launch DIY projects big and small may want to look over the
instructions and patterns listed here as a jumping off point for their own innovative, creative ideas
for keeping landfills from stacking up and negatively impacting the planet.