How to Repurpose Single-Use Plastics at Home
Single-use plastics are a huge problem for our planet. As consumers, we can make a big difference by repurposing these plastics and giving them a second life at home. Repurposing plastics reduces waste and saves money. It also allows us to get creative and make new useful items out of would-be trash.
In this article, I will share my top tips for repurposing common single-use plastics like bottles, bags, containers, and utensils. With a little effort, these materials can be upcycled into organizers, decorations, toys, and more.
Repurpose Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles are one of the most ubiquitous single-use plastics. Thankfully, they are also easy to repurpose. Here are some of my favorite projects for giving bottles new life:
Cut the bottoms off of two or more bottles of the same size. I like to use 16 or 20 oz bottles for this. Stack the straight bottle pieces and secure together with strong glue or epoxy. These can be used as desk organizers for pens, makeup brushes, silverware, and other small items.
Thoroughly clean and dry a plastic bottle. For a tapered vase, cut the bottom off at an angle. For a straight vase, cut horizontally about 2/3 down the bottle. Decorate the outside of the vase with paint, twine, or other embellishments. Add faux flowers or fresh cut blooms.
Cut the narrow top portion off a squeeze bottle, like a honey bear bottle. The wider bottom portion can be used as a scoop for pet food, flour, sugar, bird seed, or anything that needs dispensing.
Transform Plastic Bags
It seems like plastic shopping bags accumulate endlessly. But with a little DIY spirit, they can be transformed into all kinds of useful items. Here are some of the ways I like to repurpose plastic bags:
Cut plastic bags into loops. Use strips of plastic bag like yarn to weave the loops together into a rectangular or circular mat. These can be used as placemats, coasters, trivets, and more. Get creative with colors and textures.
Make Tote Bags
Collect and flatten multiple clean, empty plastic bags. Cut the bags into strips. Knot the strips together to make a reusable fabric. Crochet or weave the plastic strips into a sturdy tote bag. Add a liner for stability if needed.
Braid long strands cut from plastic shopping bags to create a strong rope. This can be used for outdoor applications like emergency camping and hiking gear or clothesline.
Upcycle Plastic Containers
The humble takeout container can also be upcycled in clever ways:
Thoroughly clean used plastic food containers with tight fitting lids. Use permanent marker to decorate the outside and tops of the containers. Add a bit of sand or rice to fill it halfway, then replace the lid. Kids will love these DIY shakable toys!
Organize Small Items
Instead of tossing old butter, yogurt, sour cream, or other small plastic tubs, save them to organize odds and ends. They are great for sorting everything from jewelry to hardware. Use labels or paint to decorate.
Make Garden Pots
Thoroughly clean large plastic takeout containers or food storage tubs. Use a drill or sharp object to poke several drainage holes in the bottom. Fill with potting soil and use to start seeds or house small plants.
Craft with Cutlery
Plastic forks, knives, and spoons destined for the trash can also be repurposed in fun ways:
Build Solar S’mores Oven
Collect a large number of clean plastic spoons. Use glue or epoxy to attach them back-to-back in a parabolic dish shape. Paint the interior black. Place food on a small pan or tin foil square in the center. Use this “solar oven” on sunny days to cook s’mores and other treats with the sun’s heat.
Create Wind Chimes
Make a whimsical wind chime from colorful plastic forks and spoons. Cut various lengths of ribbon or string. Attach a piece to the handle of each utensil, then gather all strings to hang together on one loop. Hang outside and let the breeze make noise!
Use a hot glue gun to attach the handles of plastic cutlery together in spirals. Slowly build from the inside out to weave sturdy reusable shopping baskets. Get creative with color combinations.
With a little creativity and effort, so many single-use plastics can be repurposed into useful and fun items for your home. The projects shared here are just a sampling of the possibilities. Repurposing is a great way for us as consumers to reduce plastic waste and make the most of our resources. I encourage you to look at disposable plastic items in a new light and repurpose whatever you can!