Single-use plastics are everywhere – from water bottles and grocery bags to straws and food containers. While convenient, these plastics are detrimental to the environment as most end up in landfills or polluting our oceans. An easy way to curb plastic waste is to repurpose these materials into new, useful items for your home. With a little creativity, you can give single-use plastics a second life and keep them out of the trash.
Gather Your Supplies
The first step is collecting a variety of clean, used plastics. Good options include:
Plastic bottles – water, juice, soda, milk, etc. Thoroughly rinse and remove labels.
Takeout containers – look for clear plastic containers of various sizes and shapes.
Plastic caps and lids – from bottles, jars, tubes; make sure they are clean.
Straws – both plastic and paper straws can be repurposed.
Plastic bags – grocery, zipper storage bags, bread bags. Avoid bags labeled as “biodegradable.”
Other plastics – yogurt cups, packaging clamshells, medicine bottles. Get creative!
Supplement your plastic stash with basic craft supplies:
- Hot glue gun
- Acrylic paints
- Markers, paint pens
- Twine, string
- Drill with various sized bits
Ideas for Repurposing Household Plastics
With the right techniques and a little imagination, single-use plastics can be transformed into many handy household items. Consider making:
Plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes make excellent storage containers. Leave them whole or cut them down for:
Kitchen food storage – flour, sugar, pasta, rice, etc.
Bathroom accessories – cotton balls, q-tips, hair ties
Craft supplies – beads, buttons, paints
Office supplies – paper clips, tacks, rubber bands
First aid – bandaids, gauze, alcohol wipes
Make sure containers have screw-top lids or secure with hot glue. Add labels using paint pens or printable sticky labels.
Sturdy takeout containers can substitute for plastic organizational boxes. Use them to sort and store:
Hardware – screws, nails, nuts, bolts
Sewing supplies – needles, thread, buttons
Toys and games – puzzle pieces, playing cards
Office supplies – paper clips, binder clips
Paint or decorate them to suit your needs. Drill holes to attach dividers.
Turn plastic bottles into self-watering planters. Cut off the bottom third of a bottle. Poke holes in the removed bottom piece. Fill with soil and place a plant inside. Put the bottom third back on, add water, and allow it to wick moisture to the roots. Other ideas:
Hang plastic bags or mesh produce bags on the wall to hold air plants.
Use yogurt cups to start seedlings.
Cut open detergent bottles to make long trough planters for herbs.
Plastic Bag Rope
Make reusable rope from plastic shopping bags:
Cut bags into strips 2-3 inches wide.
Tie strips together end-to-end until reaching desired length.
Twist the length into an evenly thick rope.
- Clothesline for small items
- Packaging material
- Arts and crafts projects
Weave plastic bag strips into sturdy mats for:
- Picnics and outdoor events
- Workshops and garages
- Kids play areas
- Camping or recreation
Fold bag strips in half lengthwise. Use a large needle to “sew” strips together, weaving over-and-under to form a tight mesh.
Plastic Lid Coasters
Plastic lids make fun drink coasters. Jazz them up by:
- Gluing on ribbon, lace, or raffia
- Covering with scrapbook paper or fabric
- Decorating with markers, stickers, or washi tape
Use hot glue to attach square magnets to the bottom so they stick to fridges or metal surfaces.
Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders
Attract beautiful birds with a DIY plastic bottle feeder.
Clean and dry a plastic bottle.
Make drainage holes near the bottom with a drill.
Cut an opening near the top just big enough for birds.
Add an inexpensive metal bottle cap as a perch.
Attach string or twine for hanging.
Fill with birdseed and watch your feathered friends enjoy!
Get Creative and Reduce Waste
With a stash of used plastics and basic supplies, the possibilities are endless for giving these materials new life. The more single-use plastic you can divert from landfills, the better for the environment. Repurposing it into useful household items is an easy, eco-friendly solution.
What other ways can you turn plastic waste into something useful? Get creative, and get repurposing! Your trash can become home treasures with just a little imagination.