I’ve written in past blogs about some upcycling activities, from wreaths to birdhouses and more. Upcycling is a great way to turn something otherwise useless into a work of art, a usable tool, or just give it purpose once again. Western culture, and especially in the US, we’re obsessed with disposability. We throw away unthinkable amounts of packaging, food, and other products that could just as easily have not been produced at all, recycled, or upcycled, all because we want everything to be clean and out of sight.

You can personally take a hand in reducing your waste by being conscious of your food waste (that’s to be discussed in an upcoming blog), and upcycling items that have outlived their use. Here are some ways you can upcycle with ease.

Cardboard boxes: Often just disassembled and thrown out, cardboard boxes can easily be upcycled to be not only handy but attractive storage containers for your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. All you need is some crafting materials and a hot glue gun. Take your box and wrap it in wrapping paper of your choice to go with the colors of the room where it will live. Alternatively, you can glue rope, buttons, or other craft supplies to the box for the flair you’re looking for. 

Tin cans: Don’t throw out your old soup and tuna cans just yet — they’re the perfect candidates for storage upcycling. Again, you can use wrapping paper, fabric, or scrapbooking paper to simply wrap the container up to make it fit in its room. Such decorated soup cans can serve as holders for pencils, utensils, straws, and more. Tuna cans specifically can serve a unique purpose because of their small stature. If you line the circumference with clothespins, for example, you can use the can for tiny electric tea lights, or you can use it as a planter for grassy plants. Alternatively, they can hold bobby pins or earrings and make them easy to reach.

Empty Light Bulbs: Believe it or not, light bulbs can still serve a purpose long after it’s burned out. If you remove the bottom and pull out the filament, you can use the bulb as a vase for long-stemmed flowers for a truly uniquely-packaged gift.

DVD/CD packages: Those plastic containers that once housed short towers of blank DVDs or CDs to burn can serve a noble purpose, even after their CDs have been all used up. These containers are perfect for storing string and ribbon. All you need to do is cut a hole in the top and pull the string through. That way, you don’t have to worry about tangles or finding the end every time you want a piece of string.
With a little bit of forethought and mindfulness, you can cut down on how much you throw away and put seemingly-useless items to use again around your house with a little TLC and creativity.