Transforming Your Recyclables

You may not realize it, but there are many objects around us that are ready to be repurposed into something new.

If you’re a regular frequenter of Pinterest, you’re probably familiar with the concept of upcycling. My favorite right now might just be creating a kid’s play kitchen out of an old TV stand.

Left: Giggleberry Creations | Right: Debbie Williams w/eHow

Or, how about those starburst mirrors made from paint stirrers? Our local hardware store gives those stirrers away for free – FREE, people!

Paint stirrer mirror DIYs from: Sgt. Peppers Kitchen, Decorating Cents, and The Lettered Cottage.

As someone who is obsessed with DIY projects, I still have a hard time looking beyond what an item is, in order to transform it into something new. Fortunately, that’s what Pinterest is for. Get ready to sort through your recycling bin, because we’ve rounded up a few of our own simple upcycling ideas as well as a few Pinterest favorites.



1 | Upcycled Desk Organizer


  • Cardboard box
  • Spray adhesive
  • Scrap upholstery fabric (upholstery fabric adds strength and ravels less)
  • Scissors


Cut a cardboard box to the desired size, making sure the top edges are as level as possible. Measure your box according to the guide below. You’ll start with a square or rectangle of fabric which will then be cut into a “+” shape as shown.

Upcycled Desk Organizer Fabric Guide

Once your fabric is cut, start by spraying adhesive on the bottom of your box. With your fabric laying flat on a tabletop, position your box in the center of your fabric, pushing the box and adhesive into the fabric. Once attached, turn the box (and the now adhered fabric) upside down to hand press the fabric more securely onto the box.

Use this same method to secure the side “flaps” of fabric up each side of the box, but this time first spray adhesive onto the fabric, then fold each flap over the trimmed edge and inside of your box. Once all sides are finished, you can cut another piece of fabric to secure on the inside/bottom of your box, or just let the cardboard peak through.

This same method can be used with cut cereal boxes and scrapbook or wrapping paper – a lighter-weight version perfect for storing loose recipes, notes, coupons, etc. in the kitchen.



2 | Easily organize miscellaneous screws, nails, buttons, and beads with empty baby food jars. The Crafty Nest spray painted each lid to match, creating a cohesive set of craft jars.


3 | Tin Can Herb Garden


  • 1/2 inch and/or 3/4 inch alphabet stickers (.5-inch used for the water can and .75-inch for the other tins shown above)
  • Empty tin cans (cilantro is shown in a larger “crushed tomato” can)
  • Drill and bit or nail and hammer
  • Acrylic paint and brushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rocks from the yard
  • Soil
  • Plants or seeds


Use the alphabet stickers to create a reverse label for each of your cans’ contents. Then add your herbs, first placing rocks in the bottom of each can, then soil, then your seeds/plants. You can check out the full how-to from Rae Ann Kelly. We love her motto of “Design + Play Everyday”.




4 | Repurpose those empty pill containers (and give them a cute facelift with patterned paper). They’re the perfect size to organize and store small items in your purse, backpack, diaper bag, or glove compartment. Check out the One Good Thing blog for more repurposing ideas!

  • Store cotton swabs, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.
  • Keep quarters and/or small amounts of cash handy in your car
  • Keep your headphones from tangling
  • Create a mini first aid kit
  • Fill with a small bell to create a cat toy



5 | Upcycled Spray Bottle


  • Apple Cider Vinegar Glass (or similar glass bottle)
  • Spray nozzle


Simply rinse out your glass bottle, fill it with a natural All-Purpose Cleaning Solution, and attach a spray nozzle. That’s it! Bonus: glass bottles are recommended with any natural cleaners using essential oils, so this is perfect for your next concoction.

We want your thoughts! Would you actually utilize any of these ideas at home? The tin can herb garden is calling my name…

Happy upcycling!


Blog Post Updated March 15, 2021

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