40 Uncommon Uses for Commonly Trashed Items

40 uncommon uses trashed items

How many times have you trashed, recycled or donated the following items?

  • paper towel rolls
  • burned out light bulbs
  • empty wine bottles
  • tissue boxes
  • bottle caps
  • buttons
  • wine corks
  • vinyl records
  • cassette tapes
  • old pair of jeans
  • milk jugs
  • cereal boxes
  • empty honey jars
  • baby food containers

If you answered yes to more than one (don’t kid yourself, you certainly did), you’re in for a treat. Each item listed above is transformed into a home decoration below—every single item. But… paper towel rolls? For interior decoration? Yes. Paper towel rolls.

Now, we’re not expecting you to reach into your trash, pull out the first thing you touch and nail it to your wall. But with interior design, there’s plenty of room for creativity. Is there another function for that broken coffee mug? Do those empty water bottles actually hold undeveloped beauty? To inspire you, we’ve gathered 40 of the cleverest ideas for commonly trashed items. Whether you try one or try them all, you’ll definitely have fun customizing your space with these upcycle projects.

1. Table Organizer

Table Organizer

Use that frame sitting in the back of your closet to declutter your desk. By following Wishful Tinker’s simple DIY instructions you can easily turn that frame into a table organizer. It’s simple enough for the novice crafter and functional enough to make you want to hold onto that frame!

2. Cassette Tape Table Lamp

Cassette Tape Table Lamp

We’re sure that if you’re from the ’80s, you have a plethora of cassettes that you can’t seem to part ways with. Before you ditch them, check out Pink Bird Creations’ tutorial of how to turn it into a retro lamp. You can feel less guilty about keeping them and illuminate your room at the same time.

3. Globe Lamp

Globe Lamp

Globes are too awesome to get rid of, even if they’re old and outdated. The Other Dani has come up with a great way of turning a globe into pendant lamp. You will not only look well-educated but you’ll also give new life to a great piece of decor.

4. Paintbrush Vase

Paintbrush Vase

If you have spare paintbrushes lying around that are missing bristles or clumped with Mod Podge, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to toss them away. You can use Family Chic’s DIY and make a decorative vase that can go in any room of the house.

5. Light Bulb Spice Rack

Light Bulb Spice Rack

Before you toss out your light bulbs, put them aside for this delicious craft idea from Inhabitat. They’ve taken light bulbs to another level and turned them into a unique and clever spice rack.

6. Light Bulb Centerpiece

Light Bulb Centerpiece

Another way to recycle those light bulbs is to use Warm Hot Chocolate’s detailed tutorial and turn them into a functional centerpiece. It’s not only an attractive piece of decor, but it’s also eco-friendly.

7. PVC Wine Bottle Holder

PVC Wine Bottle Holder

Don’t toss the old pieces of PVC pipe you have lying around! Instead, take a page out of Adventures in Creating’s blog and make a wine rack. Make it your own by spray painting it a cheerful color or adding some decoupage.

8. Wine Bottle Shelf

Wine Bottle Shelf

What do you do with the leftover wine bottles after the party? Easy! Make a shelf with them. Zero Waste Design has come up with a simple way of making a shelf with minimal woodwork involved.

9. Tissue Box Vase

Tissue Box Vase

Now that you’ve gone through a whole box of tissues after reading that tear-jerker, suck it up and grab your glue gun. Creme de la Craft has a cute idea to make a simple vase. Plus, having some fresh flowers around will most likely cheer you up.

10. Bottle Cap Tiles

Bottle Cap Tiles

If you’re seeking a more masculine craft idea, Dude Craft, has come up with an inspiring bathroom idea. Use bottle caps to make a colorful and eclectic bathroom floor mosaic.

11. Burlap Rice Bag Pillows

Burlap Rice Bag Pillows

Face it, your porch pillows need a facelift and you have a rice sack dying to be used. Try this nifty trick from Creme de la Craft and make some adorable pillowcases. Actually, they’re so cute that you should go crazy and do all the pillows in your house!

12. Button Lampshade

Button Lampshade

You probably don’t use all of the spare buttons that you get with your new clothes (unless you’re really bad with buttons). At Home on the Bay found a great way to use them by making a lampshade. We can imagine it looking good in a nursery or craft room.

13. Lego Recharging Station

Lego Recharging Station

If you’re like us, you love your Legos until the day that you step on them whilst barefoot. Fear not, for you can turn your beloved Legos into a dock charging station. Detailed instructions can be found on Make.

14. Cork Bathmat

Cork Bathmat

You might not think that a bathmat made from wine corks would be very comfortable, but it’s nicer than you think. Plus, it looks great and dries quicker than your current bathmat. Take it from Inhabitat who have fashioned a quaint addition to a bathroom using the little things that typically get throws away.

15. Old Book Clock

Old Book Clock

If you can’t stand to part with a particular book, turn it into a clock using these instructions from Ruffles & Stuff. It could be hard to put a meaningful book into the donate pile, so with this upcycle project you won’t have to!

16. Record Wall Clock

Record Wall Clock

Little Star Blog gives us another clock to work with, this time using an old record. Keep it in a traditional shape, or cut out a new one. The best part of these home projects is the freedom to customize, so be sure to add your personal flair to all of your DIY home furnishings.

17. Tire Tread Valance

Tire Tread Valance

If you’re looking to furnish a car lover’s bedroom, try using the tread from an unused tire as a window valance. It seems unorthodox but Itsy Bits & Pieces pulls it off nicely! Though it’s best to clean the tire first, it’s okay if it shows a little wear and tear. That’ll just add to the charm.

18. Denim Pocket Organizer

Denim Pocket Organizer

We all have old jeans that don’t fit anymore. Sisters of the Wild West saw an upcycling opportunity in the pockets of their old jeans. Use them to make an organizer to hang in any room of your house. It could be a catch-all for mail, keys or even a functional addition to your craft room.

19. Succulent in a Mug

Succulent in a Mug

Join in on the succulents craze and try this project from Me With the Three. When a mug chips, your first instinct will be to throw it away. Fight that urge and use the mug as a cute planter for your favorite succulent plant. It’ll add just a little extra charm to your kitchen window sill.

20. Milk Jug Curtain

Milk Jug Curtain

Build an alternative curtain with pieces cut from milk jugs with these instructions from Homemade Mamas. The plastic won’t completely shut out the light, but it’ll give you a nice ambience. You can also look forward to this being an effective conversation starter in your home!

21. Decorative Cork Ball

Decorative Cork Ball

Here’s a use for old wine corks that you won’t have to step on! All Put Together was inspired by a store display when they decided to make this decorative cork ball. It’ll look like you paid good money for something that only cost you some glue and some time. Don’t worry, no need to drink all 200+ bottles yourself; ask your friends for donations.

22. Coconut Zen Bowl

Coconut Zen Bowl

After you take the milk and meat out of a coconut, you can use the shell to make a bowl. Dragons n Bottlecaps shows how this project might require some elbow grease, but it’s well worth it to keep this handsome bowl on your coffee table.

23. Pallet Shelf

Pallet Shelf

Stores throw away pallets all the time, but there are tons of furnishing projects that start with this reclaimed wood. Beyond the Picket Fence shows how to build a shelf made out of pallets complete with wheels to push it around a room. A little paint gives the final product some color, but it still gets to keep its industrial charm.

24. Paper Towel Wreath

Paper Towel Wreath

Save a few paper towel rolls to recreate this upcycle project from Lovely Trash. The cardboard provides the base for the wreath, and you can customize it by adding embellishments. No one will be able to guess what you used to make it, and it’ll look like it cost a lot more than it did!

25. Cereal Box Magazine Holder

Cereal Box Magazine Holder

Tuck magazine and mail away into a paper holder made from an empty cereal box like the folks from Sweet Phoenix. Customize it with the wrapping paper of your choice and make a bunch to clean up one particular space.

26. Gold Honey Bear Vase

Gold Honey Bear Vase

We always knew there was a secondary use for those cute little bears that hold our honey. Try this gold leaf technique from A Beautiful Mess to turn those adorable honey pots into chic decorations for your home.

27. Oar Towel Rack

Oar Towel Rack

If you find yourself with an oar missing its partner, there’s always an option to turn that single guy into nautical decor for any room in your house. Stylish Beach Home transforms an oar into a towel rack for a beach-themed bathroom. Other DIY’ers have used an oar as a curtain rod. Let your imagination run wild with this one.

28. Baby Food Jar Salt and Pepper Shakers

Baby Food Jar Salt and Pepper Shakers

Baby food jars are the perfect size for salt and pepper shakers, as pointed out by Dream a Little Bigger. Once the jars are empty, fill them with your favorite seasoning and shake away! Put these out on your dining room table and let your guests marvel at your cleverness.

29. Bottle Soap Dispenser

Bottle Soap Dispenser

Your favorite liquor bottle can be turned into a soap dispenser thanks to the ingenuity of Curly Birds. The project isn’t as tricky as it looks, and the results will make it look like you paid a lot to customize your sink accessories.

30. Paper Cups Garland

Paper Cups Garland

Customize your own paper cup lantern garland with this idea from the Mormorsglamour blog. Trying to decorate for a last minute party? Here’s an easy way to do it!

31. Photo Book Holder

Photo Book Holder

Upcycle projects are rarely this easy! It’s Hand Made shows that if you know how to fold, then you know how to make a cool side table display. Choose an old book and fold the pages so that they can hold up pictures, postcards or any other paper good you’d like to display.

32. Wine Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Wine Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Humans aren’t the only creatures that enjoy a drink from a wine bottle! The Wonder Forest has tips to transform a wine bottle into a hummingbird feeder. You’ve always wanted to see them up close, here’s a chance to make your patio infinitely more inviting.

33. Plastic Bottle Bottom Curtain

Plastic Bottle Bottom Curtain

Take the bottoms of plastic bottles and create a curtain using instructions from So Creative. The bottle bottoms have a cool texture to reflect light nicely. It’s a nice addition to any room in your house for a very low cost and a moderate amount of effort.

34. Soda Bottle Sprinkler

Water Bottle Sprinkler

Take care of your lawn with an old two-liter soda bottle. Clever, Crafty, Cookin’ Mama shares how to attach a plastic soda bottle to a hose and make a perfect sprinkler system. Your thirsty grass will thank you.

35. Dinosaur Toothbrush Holder

Dinosaur Toothbrush Holder

After cleaning out your child’s toy chest, rescue a figurine out of the donate pile and take this idea from the All This For Them blog. The example shown is a dinosaur toy made into a toothbrush holder, but feel free to change up the toy based on your child’s interest. It’ll dress up the bathroom sink, and get your little one more excited to brush!

36. Umbrella Door Decor

Umbrella Door Decor

Be Colorful turns an umbrella into outdoor decor in this upcycling project. Instead of tossing a broken umbrella, consider turning it into an attractive door ornament. There’s nothing like making great use out of broken things, and you’ll have the style to prove it!

37. Tire Stools

Tire Stools

Muy Ingenisio takes old tires and makes them into quirky stools in this instance of clever upcycling. If the tire isn’t good for the road anymore, slap on some paint and create a fun footstool for your home.

38. Bicycle Wheel Stained Glass

Bicycle Wheel Stained Glass

Add some color and light to your garden with this bicycle tire stained glass piece courtesy of Flea Market Gardening. It’s nice to have some decoration among your flowers and herbs. This just might be the touch you’re looking for!

39. Floppy Disk Coasters

Floppy Disk Coasters

If you still have floppy disks around, you’re one of the very few. But before you go to the garbage can, consider making them into coasters like these from Tanya Minxy. Add a geeky touch to your coffee table, and dispel water rings at the same time.

40. Cookbook Placemats

Floppy Disk Coasters

If you have a certain cookbook memorized and you’re ready to get rid of it, try making it into a placemat, like these from Creative Upcycling. It seems suitable for a cookbook to find a second life in the kitchen, and it’s a fairly simple project. Get to work!


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