14 Easy Ideas for Upcycling Plastic Items

upcycled frame

It seems that more and more goods are being distributed in plastic bottles. While some people carelessly toss them in the trash, others (thankfully) recycle them. As for myself, I choose to recycle them around the house!

I used to work for the world’s largest solid waste hauling company. I worked in sales at the landfill. I loved my job with them, and I was able to influence people to recycle. Yet, it made me sad seeing the huge number of trash trucks ascending the landfill mound every day. Over and over again.

Working there made me very conscious of opportunities to upcycle. In fact, you could say that I was upcycling before upcycling was cool!

Here are just a few ways that I have upcycled, recycled, or repurposed just a few plastic items with just a few basic household tools.

 

Recycling vs Upcycling

Reusing and upcycling are both great for the environment. With reusing (also called repurposing), you are finding a new use for a discarded item, usually to use it in a similar manner. On the other hand, upcycling re-invents the item for a whole new purpose. Some people like to split hairs on the topic, but I’m glad to do both! Each has merit and is great to help reduce waste.

 

Prescription Bottle

Here are just a few ways you can upcycle a prescription bottle:

1. Decorate with washi tape and use it to hold your earbuds. The cords don’t get tangled and crimped. They fit perfectly inside.

2. Use a wider prescription bottle wrapped in washi tape to hold quarters for the vending machine at work.

3. Place a spare key to your home in a prescription bottle, dig a shallow hole in a garden near your door, cover it back with the dirt and a rock. You have a well-concealed key hiding place

 

Plastic Photo Frames

Plastic has also crept into home decor. It seems like wooden photo frames have been replaced by their plastic counterparts. When it’s time to change out the artwork, save the plastic frame! It can be upcycled or recycled.

1. Recycle the plastic frame by using it for new artwork.

2. Give an ugly plastic frame a fresh, fun spray paint color and make it into an earring rack. Simply cover the cardboard backing in a fun fabric, attach jewelry wire, and you have a pretty, convenient place to hang your earrings.

3. Replace the artwork with a piece of scrapbook paper, cut to fit. The scrapbook paper will be behind the original glass. Use this as a funky dry erase board. Yes, glass is dry-erase safe!

upcycled frame

 

Plastic Laundry Bottles

plastic laundry bottles

We accumulate plastic and cleaning bottles almost overnight in my home! Yes, I keep many of them! I upcycle them into a variety of items.

1. Cut a laundry detergent bottle into a scoop for spreading lime in your garden. At the end of the season, you don’t need to store it for the winter. Recycle it and make a new one next spring!

2. Use the cap of the laundry bottle as a measuring tool. For example, I use a Sharpie to make a mark at the ½ cup mark of my cap. This is the amount hummingbird nectar I need to add to water in my feeder.

3. Spray stain remover bottles can be recycled to hold an environmentally-friendly cleaning solution of water and white vinegar. No more harsh chemicals and it cleans virtually everything.

4. During hurricane season, I keep them empty and ready to use. If we get a hurricane warning, I fill them with water to use for flushing toilets. One small detergent bottle=one flush of the toilet!

 

Soda Bottles

Soda and water bottles can also get upcycled. They are available in my home at almost all times, so I really do try to repurpose them at least once!

1. Cut a soda or water bottle in half. Use the bottom half as a mini-greenhouse to protect plants from frost.

2. Use the top half of the same bottle to create a funnel. I use these to return paint from a paint tray to the paint can without dribbles.

3. Speaking of paint tray…you can also use the bottom half of a two liter soda bottle for soaking your paintbrushes before you clean them.

4. Wash soda bottles out and let them air dry completely. I fill them with dried beans and rice during hurricane season. I’m prepared if we lose power during a hurricane and it keeps mice, bugs, and other pests out of my foods!

 

Summary

I hope this gave you a few ideas. Before you toss that plastic bottle in the recycling, think about if you have a way to reuse it even one more time!

Here are just a few ways that I have upcycled, recycled, or repurposed just a few plastic items with just a few basic household tools.