5 Easy Upcycling Ideas for Beginners


Americans throw away about 140 million tons of trash every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Next time you toss out a glass jar or your potato peelings, reconsider how you can easily upcycle — or repurpose — those items around your home.

The benefits of upcycling are two-fold: You help the environment, and you save money. What could be better? Below, we share five practical upcycling ideas that you can use to reduce waste.

1. Kitchen Scraps -> Compost

What was the largest category of landfilled waste in 2017? Food, which composes about 22% of trash, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A simple way to start upcycling is to turn your kitchen scraps into what home gardeners call “black gold”: compost. Save coffee grounds and filters, fruits, vegetables and eggshells for your backyard compost bin — reducing your waste and creating garden fuel in the process. It’s simple, we promise. Read our guide to home composting.

2. Glass Jars -> Everyday Containers

Don’t toss those pasta sauce or salsa jars. Glass is a safer alternative to plastic for food storage, so use them to load up your leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. They’re also a great place to store dry goods like grains and pasta, bathroom necessities, office supplies, flowers, gifts and more. This is an especially easy upcycling project for beginners: Peel off the labels, wash the container and your jar has new life!

3. Toilet Paper Rolls -> Seed Starters

Start saving your toilet and paper towel rolls! Instead of using peat planters, sow seeds in the rolls. You can grow seedlings in the cardboard, then directly plant the rolls into your garden. They’re biodegradable! Have extra? Toss them in your compost bin, where they’ll help air circulate. 

4. Newspaper -> Wrapping Paper

Metallic, glittery wrapping paper can’t be recycled. Instead, opt for newspaper. Top it off with a ribbon from an old present — we know you save them, too — and call it good.

5. Ladder -> Shelf

Old ladders can get new life as shelving options for either inside or outside your home. Prop one side against a wall and store towels, books, shoes or jewelry. (Just make sure to anchor it to your wall!) Or, lay reclaimed pieces of wood across the steps for more storage space. If your ladder is a little too rustic, use is as a plant stand in your garden.

Upcycle Your Savings, Too

Put your upcycling savings to good use by contributing to retirement or college savings, or by investing the money for your future financial needs. Talk to you Farm Bureau agent today to learn more about your financial goals.