How to Upcycle Food Scraps into Useful Household Items

How to Upcycle Food Scraps into Useful Household Items

How to Upcycle Food Scraps into Useful Household Items


Reusing food scraps that would otherwise go to waste is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and get creative in the kitchen. With a little effort, you can upcycle things like fruit peels, vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, and more into handy household items. Here’s how to give food scraps a second life in your home.

Make DIY Scrubs

Coffee grounds, oats, sugar, and other pantry items make excellent natural exfoliants. Here are some scrub recipes to try:

  • Coffee body scrub – Mix used coffee grounds with a little oil like coconut or olive oil. The grounds will slough off dead skin cells. The oil will add moisture.

  • Sugar lip scrub – Combine 1 tbsp sugar with 1 tsp olive oil and a drop of honey. Gently rub on lips to remove flaky skin. Rinse.

  • Oatmeal face scrub – Blend 1 tbsp oats with 1 tsp plain yogurt. Gently massage into skin, then rinse.

Tip: Store scrubs in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The natural ingredients may mold if left out too long.

Produce Natural Dye

Avocado pits, onion skins, blueberry skins, and other produce scraps can be used to make plant-based dyes for fabrics or paper crafts.

  • Place peels and skins in a pot. Cover with water. Simmer for 30 mins to 1 hour.
  • Strain and let the liquid cool.
  • Add fabric or paper and let soak overnight. Rinse and let dry.

Onion skins make a warm yellow. Blueberry skins create a purple-gray. Avocado pits make a greenish hue. Experiment with different items from your kitchen!

Make Stovetop Potpourri

Simmer fruit peels, like citrus or apple peels, with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to produce a wonderful smelling homemade potpourri for your stove.

  • Place peels and spices in a small pot with 2 cups water.
  • Simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours with the lid on.
  • Let cool, then strain liquid and discard peels.
  • Transfer liquid to a heatproof container with a pour spout.

When cooking, add a splash of the fragrant liquid to the pan for added aroma! Refrigerate and reuse for up to 2 weeks.

Grow Food From Scraps

Many vegetable and herb trimmings can be regrown right on your windowsill! Reusing scraps reduces waste and gives you fresh produce.

  • Garlic – Place a garlic clove in a small jar with water. New shoots will sprout.

  • Celery – Cut the base and place in a shallow bowl of water. New stalks will regrow.

  • Green onions – Place root ends in a jar with a little water. The green tops will regrow.

  • Lettuce – Place the core or leaves in a bowl with a bit of water. New lettuce will grow.

Change the water every other day. Harvest greens when they reach 3-6 inches.


With a dash of creativity, you can give many food scraps a second life around the home. Making scrubs, dyes, potpourri, and regrowing vegetables are all great ways to reduce waste. Implement a few of these eco-friendly ideas to make use of ingredients you’d normally throw out.