Showcase of everyday items people throw away that can be upcycled instead.

Easy Items To Upcycle

We all know about recycling, but do you upcycle? In a world where it’s more important than ever to practice sustainability, upcycling is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. But what is upcycling? What do you need to do it? And most of all, is it expensive?

Upcycling is the practice of taking items that would otherwise be worn, useless, or even trashed and reimagining them into something usable. It’s a great way to repurpose items you already own, but don’t use anymore. Best of all, it’s usually free. Because you already own the products you’re upcycling, there’s no cost in keeping them. Occasionally you will need to buy supplies to transform that product, but you might even have these materials hanging around your house.

Here are some everyday items that most people think are trash but can easily be upcycled into something new.

Retool Used Toothbrushes

Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you’ve ever used is still on the planet today? Toothbrushes take approximately 500 years to decay. That means every toothbrush you’ve ever owned or will own, will live in a landfill long after you’re gone. Sure, you should buy wooden toothbrushes in the future, but what should you do with your current plastic toothbrush in the meantime?

After disinfecting the bristles in bleach, you’ll find that old toothbrushes can be used complete a variety of household tasks. Upcycle your toothbrush to clean jewelry, reach tough spots in your bathroom, or even keep electronics dust free. Just make sure you’re using different old toothbrushes for every household task!

Uncycle Egg Cartons 

If your family eats traditional eggs, then you know how quickly the egg cartons can pile up. Fortunately, there are so many ways to upcycle these containers that you may never throw another egg carton in the trash again.

You can use the small compartments to organize junk drawers or even craft supplies. If you’re a gardener, you can use the egg holes in the carton to plant seedlings. You can even cut cartons and use the individual egg holes as sauce cups at dinner. Anywhere you need an organization or separation of small items, egg cartons are a great item to upcycle.

Repurpose Glass Jars

If you’re not already saving glass jars, consider this your sign to start. From salsa to jelly, glass jars are one of the best free items you can get at the grocery store—just buy the item that comes in them. And glass jars are one of the easiest items to upcycle. Clean them out, soak them in warm water to remove the label and you can use them pretty much anywhere in your house.

Glass jars are great for storing dry goods in your pantry like rice, beans, pasta, and flour. Like egg cartons they’re great for planting small items—we recommend making a herb garden in your kitchen out of old glass jars. You could even keep it simple and use glass jars as cups to serve drinks. The possibilities are endless. Plus, if you consistently buy the same products, it won’t be long before you have a matching set of glass jars!

Bed Sheets

When it’s time to replace your bedsheets, it might be tempting to throw the old ones out. But there are plenty of ways to upcycle old sheets. We recommend giving them a deep clean by submerging them in hot water, borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent mixture before repurposing them. But after they’ve been deep cleaned, you can do almost anything with them.

It isn’t possible to have too many dish rags. Cut up the bed sheets into 12×12 squares and you’ll have an endless supply of rags to use when drying dishes or even cleaning the kitchen. If you have a dog, you can cut sections of the sheet to tie into large knots your dog can play with. And if you have kids, or you’re a kid at heart, you can use the old sheets to make blanket forts!

These are just four everyday items you could upcycle to be more sustainable. But there are plenty more. The next time you go to throw something away, think, can I upcycle this?