5 Easy Upcycling Projects


What is upcycling? In short, it is reusing materials and items in a way that gives them a greater value. You can find loads of great examples of upcycling on Pinterest, there are simple and fun ones to more complex projects for the more ambition and more experienced.

Upcycling is fantastic way to repurpose old items that are destined for the landfill and today we have put together 5 of our favourite examples of upcycling that you might like to try at home:

1) Cardboard Box into Basket

Elizabeth Joan Design - Boxes to Baskets

This great upcycle project comes from Elizabeth Joan Designs, often baskets can be expensive, but with a few items you can create your own at home.

What you will need:

  • Cardboard box
  • Spool of thick rope
  • Strong craft glue
  • Fabric to line the box, you could use an old pillow or sheet and cut them to the desired size.

It is fairly simple to do, start by cutting the flaps off your cardboard box and firm up the edges by adding glue. Then glue the end of your thick rope to one of the bottom corners of the box and wrap the rope around the box, gluing at regular intervals for stability. Finish off the basket by lining it with your desired fabric.

For the full instructions and pictures to illustrate head over to Elizabeth Joan's website here.

2) Glass Jars for Storage

Recycled Glass Jars - Little House of Four

This is a very common project and you can find many variations of this across the internet. We have taken this from Little House of Four because we love their way of styling them

For full instructional video and picture check out Little House of Four's website

What you will need:

  • Clean glass jars with lids
  • Whatever decoration you want to add to the lid, they use knobs for cupboards but you could add gems or anything you prefer.
  • Decorative paper or wrapping paper
  • Glue gun or strong craft glue

For this project you can be as creative as you like. Make sure you have soaked your glass jar in hot water to remove the label and any glue. Once they have dried full you can cut out your decorative paper/ wrapping paper to wrap around the main section of your jar, apply glue and allow to dry. Whilst you are waiting you can decorate the lid. When making our own we stuck on the decorative paper and on top we added labels as we are using ours to store cotton wool balls and other craft equipment.

3) T-Shirts into Tote Bags


Mommypotomus - No Sew T Shirt Tote Bags


This idea comes from Mommypotomus and is fantastic those old t shirts that you don't wear anymore but don't want to throw away, plus it is really simple and straightforward and you don't have to sew anything!

For in depth instructions and photos go over to Mommypotomus' website.

What you will need:

  • Old T Shirt - the thicker the fabric the sturdier the bag
  • Scissors
  • Washable marker (optional)

To make your tote bag out of an old t shirt you need to first cut off the sleeves and cut the neckline into an equal oval shape (see Mommypotomus' images). Next turn the t shirt inside out and mark off how deep you want the bag to be and cut a fringe (slits on either side of the t shirts about 3/4 to 1 inch apart). Now you are going to tie the fringe together, tie together one slit from each side of the t shirt and do this along the length, then tie the middle ones together. I realise that I have not explained that very well but Heather does a much better job on the website and has a great visual aid to help.

4) Tin Can Planters

Tin Can Planters - The Best Idea For Kids

Here is another very well loved upcycling project. Taking your used and washed tin cans to make them into a home for your succulents and other small plants. The image above comes from The Best Ideas for Kids.

What you will need:

  • Tin cans - cleaned and labels removed
  • Paint
  • Soil
  • Succulents or other small plant

To do this project you need to use your imagination and paint the tin cans however you see fit. Fill the cans with soil and plant your seed or succulents.

5) Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder

RSPB - Recycled Bird Feeder

This final upcycling project comes from the RSPB and is a great one to do with kids at home and will help encourage birds into your garden/ to your windows.

See their instructions and pictures on the RSPB website.

What you will need:

  • Plastic Bottle
  • Wire or String
  • Pencil - Optional
  • Bird Seed
  • Scissors

There are a few different ways you can make these bird feeders, the one on the RSPB website is to cut a large-ish hole in the bottle that will allow the birds access to the food but won't cause the food to spill out, then put a few small slits in the bottom to allow rainwater to drain out. Next attach the wire or string to the top of the bottle and hang it up where birds can come and feed. Remember to change the bottle if it gets damaged or mouldy.

Another way to make these is to put a few small holes in the bottle for birds to eat the food from with a larger pair of holes straight through the bottle to slot a pencil through so the birds have a perch!

If you are looking for some other crafty ways to reuse your waste then we suggest checking out some of Terracycle's suggestions here.

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