Have you turned an Amazon box into a Halloween costume? Maybe your backyard bird feeder was once a soda bottle? Then you already know the financial and psychological benefits of upcycling. Americans throw away nearly 150 million tons of trash every year, so the primary benefit of taking stress off our landfills is obvious. But the personal satisfaction that you made something, repurposed something, created something that was destined for the trash and instead increased its lifespan, well, that just feels good! Below, we share five easy projects for upcycling beginners.
1. Kitchen Scraps -> Compost
Food waste accounts for almost one-quarter of the trash that ends up in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A simple way for upcycling beginners to combat waste is to turn kitchen scraps into what home gardeners call “black gold.” Save coffee grounds and filters, fruits, vegetables and eggshells for your backyard compost bin — reducing your waste and creating eco-friendly garden fuel in the process. It’s simple, we promise. Read our guide to composting at home.
2. Glass Jars -> Everyday Containers
This is an especially easy upcycling project for beginners. Don’t toss those pasta sauce or pickle jars. Peel off the labels, wash the container and your mason jar has new life! 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 and office supplies. Once you start upcycling glass, you’ll notice which wine bottles make the prettiest flower vases and which small jars are perfect for homemade candles.
3. Toilet Paper Rolls -> Seed Starters
Here’s an unexpected, sustainable alternative to a trip to the garden store. Start saving your toilet and paper towel rolls, and 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. Plus, those rolls are expensive, bulky to store and not always appropriate for the occasion at hand. Instead, newspaper is an easy alternative. It’s always graphic, neutral but not boring, plus circulars and flyers are fair game, too. 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 it as a plant stand in your garden for a quick and easy upcycling project.
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 your Farm Bureau agent today to learn more about your financial goals.