Trash to Treasure Recycling Ideas


All that glitters is not gold, because treasures do lurk in places such as salvage yards, second-hand shops or trash bins. Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective to see how to turn a discard into a useful item. There are treasures in your own home just waiting for you to see their potential. So before you drop something in your box for Goodwill, step outside the box and see what else you can do with it.

Household Furnishings

  • Salvaging large objects is a little harder than other projects because you need a truck or large vehicle to claim the raw materials. But if you have one, and some basic woodworking skills, don't pass up discarded kitchen cabinets and doors. An old kitchen cabinet can find a place in your home as a nightstand or end table. A door can be repurposed as a desktop, supported by a couple of file cabinets. Use the hole for the doorknob to pass computer cords beneath the desk. Or put two cabinets side by side, add an upholstered top, and put it under a window for quick and cozy seating with storage.


  • When your closet is bulging with clothes that you no longer wear, take a few minutes to look at them from a different viewpoint. You can felt wool sweaters to create a sturdy fabric that won't unravel, which makes them raw material for afghans, hats and handbags. Or consider unravelling them to reuse the yarn. An old pair of blue jeans can become a new skirt, or consider clipping off the legs, and making a purse. A button-down shirt can be refashioned to a skirt or a pillow cover.


  • From mismatched silverware and old dishes to jelly jar glasses, a kitchen seems to be a repository of unwanted stuff. So stop stuffing those souvenir coffee cups in the back of the cabinet. Make one a pen or pencil holder by the kitchen phone or a vase for herbs. Display cooking magazines library-style on an over-the-door towel rack. Put a basket on top of an old scale for new mail, or add some dried lavender or rosemary. Mount an extra baking rack on a wall and add mini clothespins for a simple bulletin board.

True Trash

  • Consider your everyday trash as a supply cabinet for raw materials. With a few well-placed snips, a plastic bag becomes plarn, or plastic yarn, that you can crochet or knit into rugs or place mats. Can labels, carefully removed, are colorful additions to decoupage projects. Add some paste to newspaper for paper mâché. Even junk mail and cereal boxes can be remade into handmade books with a little imagination.

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