We once came across an article describing a Holocaust survivor who learned to pieces of trash into anything he needed, basically. It made us think of ways we can do the same. It’s not just a way to save money and be resourceful: it’s good for the planet too! Plus, it can get your creative juices flowing, if you learn to look at things differently. In totally random order, here are 22 life hack and DIY ideas to make from your everyday trash:
1) Make an exercise armband from an old sock, to hold your phone or music player
No pockets in your exercise gear? Why spend 20 bucks when you can make your own armband for workouts? Take a sturdy sock, cut a hole, and roll it up your arm. Here is a tutorial.
2) Make crafty hand bags and wallets from toothpaste tubes
You can get crafty and make a strong handbag or grocery basket from toothpaste tubes, like this organization in India does. This method also works with other plastics, like candy wrappers. Here is a tutorial in French, with English subtitles.
3) Weave baskets with plastic bags
4) Reuse plastic bottles as faucet extenders
You know when kids can’t reach the water coming out of the faucet to wash their hands? This life hack using trash will help. Cut a plastic bottle to extend the water flow from the tap. Here is a photo to see how it’s done.
This idea also comes in handy if you’re trying to fill a bucket, and don’t have a hose. In that case, just make sure the bottle is long enough to reach over your sink!
5) Use plastic shampoo bottles to make a phone charging station
You’ve probably seen this life hack around the Internet already, but it’s so handy, we’ll mention it again. Turn any ol’ shampoo or lotion bottle into a holder for your phone while it’s charging on a wall outlet. It only takes a bit of cutting! Here is a tutorial to follow.
6) Make an old t-shirt rug or bath mat
Here is a great way to make use of old t-shirts that can’t be donated: turn them into a rug. These colourful, creative creations can be a money-saver life hack. How often do you find washable rugs that cost you nothing? Makes a great bath mat, or a kids play rug too!
7) Turn an old computer or TV shell into a pet bed
Pets can have their own, stylish, unique and private little nook to crawl into with this DIY. Talk about recycling electronics: you can use the shell of a vintage box TV or computer and turn it into a ped. A photo can be seen here.
You can also stuff old couch cushions with rags to make a pet bed…
8) Make a table out of a wooden cable spool
Ok, this is not something all people have lying around their house. But, they’re not that hard to find. Wooden cable spools can make a really easy DIY furniture project. Turn them onto their flat edges for low-cost side tables. Paint them, tile them, or add more wood features to them. In fact, wooden spools can be used for more than just making tables. Here are more ideas.
9) Turn coffee cans into planters
You know those bulk-size, grocery-store metal coffee tins? You can drill holes in them, paint them, and decorate them into nice, cottage-style, rustic planters! Here’s a tutorial to check out.
10) Turn a yoga mat into a laptop or electronics case
This is neat: when your yoga mat is no longer useful, you can still make use of its padded material. It can keep your electronics safe. Here’s an article where we go this one. It has a photo to show you too.
11) Save wine corks for easy fire starters
Don’t throw away wine corks! You can make them into fire starters, which will be a great life hack to show off at your next marshmallow roasting party or BBQ. You’ll need to soak them in rubbing alcohol for a while for this trick to work. Here’s how to do it.
12) Turn broken plates and mirrors into mosaic works of art
Save your old broken mirrors or ceramic plates, and turn them into mosaics. All it takes is a bit of tiling skill, which is easy to learn! Here’s a Pinterest page to get you inspired with broken plates. Here is a tutorial on how to safely make mosaics with mirrors (they can be sharp – be careful!)
Note: you can also do this with old CD and DVD disks!
This trash to treasure project might be worth money when you’re done. See if you can sell it on Craigslist.
13) Make a cool dustpan from an old license plate
You can find these in creative gift shops, or you can make them yourself from trash! Turn your old license plate into a hip dust pan. This will take a bit of work, and is more like a DIY project to keep you busy for a while. But hey, who says turning trash into treasure can’t be a fun hobby, too? Here are instructions (keep scrolling down).
14) Turn laundry detergent containers into garden watering cans
You could buy a watering can, or you can save your old liquid laundry detergent pourers and pay nothing. They come with the neat spout that directs the liquid where you want it to go (you know what we mean). Plus, the handle will be sturdy, since it’s already meant for heavy loads. Get it?
Here is more of what you can do with laundry detergent containers.
Bonus: Drill holes in the lid, fill it with water, and it will be a water drizzler. Works with milk jugs too!
15) Turn k-cups and disposable coffee pods into Christmas ornaments
Disposable coffee pods are getting people concerned about plastic waste. They’re convenient for brewing coffee, but not so convenient to recycle. You can help solve that problem by turning them into Christmas ornament crafts! Here is the tutorial.
16) Use wipes tube dispensers as plastic bag dispensers
Here is an easy way to store your plastic bags, and make them easy to access when you need them. You know those tube-style dispensers for wet wipes? You can store plastic bags in them, and dispense them the same way. Make them pretty too, with this tutorial.
17) Make many kinds of art from plastic spoons
If you use plastic spoons for your gatherings to avoid washing dishes, make sure no one is throwing them in the trash afterwards. Use these ideas to turn them into works of art.
18) Save parmesan cheese shakers for uses around the house
Don’t throw away those parmesan cheese plastic containers! You can fill them with items to help you with life hacks around the house. Like salting the driveway, or sprinkling epsom salts in the bath. Or, take them on camping trips when you need just a little laundry detergent to go with you. This blogger tells more.
19) Use toilet paper rolls to organize wires
These handy pieces of cylindrical cardboard make for great organizers. Run your wires through them, then label them so you know what’s what. Say goodbye to your tangled mess. Or stack them in vertically in a box, and use the toilet paper rolls to keep them separated.
20) Save cleaning spray bottles and re-use them
This is a tip from Mr. Captain Obvious. But you know, so many of us throw away perfectly good spray bottles. Modern cleaning supplies packages come with really good sprayers too – you can’t buy some of this quality at a dollar store. So save them! Just fill them up again with your own solutions of home-made cleaners (like vinegar), or refill with bulk cleaning liquids (like bleach).
21) Save baby wipes lids to make a toy game for toddlers
Children love surprise games. You can make an open-and-close board to teach toddlers letters, objects, shapes…you name it. Use the plastic lids from baby wipe refills (the ones that come in pliable plastic). Glue them onto a board, and get crafty. Here are ideas from a Pinterest page.
22) Use honey squeeze bottles for travel-size shampoo, soap and body wash
Honey bottles have perfect squeezability, and sometimes they come with stoppers too. When you’re out of honey, save those bottles. Fill them with liquid soaps, like shampoo or body wash, and use those for your travels. No need to buy mini-sized shampoo at the store.
Treasure from trash is all around us
As you can see, most of the ideas above are really just a matter of not throwing things away. Many of our plastics can be reused right at home. They don’t need to head to the recycling facilities immediately – we can extend their life. We save a little money, and we save the planet too!
See related posts on our blog:
- 11 places to shop upcycled and reclaimed furniture in the Vancouver area
- 5 pieces of valuable junk you have that might be worth money
- 9 Essential tools you’ll need if you want to be a furniture upcycler or repurposer
- How to cover or reupholster a couch so you don’t have to junk haul it