Trash to Treasure

After sharing a gelato with Len, I loved the polka dotted cardboard container so much that I washed it out and repurposed it — now it’s home to office supplies. 

The terms repurpose, recycle, and upcycle are often used interchangeably:

  • REPURPOSE: adapt for use in a different purpose.
  • RECYCLE convert (waste) into reusable material. Return (material) to a previous state in a cyclic process. Use again.
  • UPCYCLE: reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Give an unwanted or waste product a new or enhanced lease of life. 

I’m a huge proponent of repurposing, recycling, and upcycling. One of my favorite places in Boise, Idaho is Blooms Flower Studio. You can see in the photo below, that back in the day it was a service station. Today, it’s a gorgeous (inside and out) floral shop that also delivers impressive customer service.

What have you repurposed, recycled, or upcycled for reuse at your home?


54 thoughts on “Trash to Treasure

  1. Sometimes things just click and sometimes they just happen to be in the right place at the right time. I love metallic boxes of biscuits, crackers, and cookies, and they always end up holding some treasures. At the moment I have a wooden box (it originally contained two bottles of cava, a present from the family of a patient who happened to be the owners of the cava company) that was first repurposed as a cassettes container, which has now become a laptop stand. Glass jars full of pebbles make good hand weights… I love the flower shop. Thanks, Laurie!

  2. We do it all the time. One of my favourites is glass yoghurt pots, which I use as tealight holders or for small plants like cacti. I used to have them all over the house and I still have some in motorhome. 👍

  3. My son plays baseball, so there have been a lot of broken bats in our house. My husband used some to make a homemade lamp, salt and pepper shakers and a table. The table lamp is my favourite. I love that my lamp stand has the scuff marks from when my son’s bat met the ball still on it.

  4. I only get an actual paper newspaper on the weekends (the rest of the week I read the digital version). But I recycle the newspaper into my cats…..recycling box. It works! No litter all over the floor.

  5. The desk of drawers from my former sewing room has become a holder for batteries, small household tools, and important papers in my laundry room. I love Arlene’s illustration, repurposing with a memory and beautiful, like your polka-dotted cup.

  6. I use two boxes which had been my mothers. A wooden one came with stationery and now conceals my weekly medicine bottles. The other a metal trunk shape also came with writing paper in it, but now holds all I need for sewing–scissors, thread, buttons, etc. I love both that are now antiques.

  7. My coffee table is an old suitcase, on legs. Tin cans keep pencils, markers and brushes upright. An old, spindled headboard is now a porch rail. Tins from cookies and crackers now hold buttons, sewing notions and game pieces. Yes, there are many examples of re-purposing in my life.

  8. I try to repurpose, recycle, upcycle, all of those things, but our community has made it more difficult to recycle. Because of abuses to the system by some, we no longer have a local, nearby place to recycle. I do, however, repurpose empty glass jars to be used to hold writing materials, paintbrushes, water to clean brushes when I’m painting, etc. Large plastic jugs become watering cans.

    • Carol — That’s a shame about your community making it more difficult to recycle. But I’m tickled pink that you work around them when it comes to glass jars and plastic jugs!

      Like you, I reuse glass jars. In my case, I don’t store anything (flour, sugar, rice, leftovers, etc) in Tupperware-type containers. I use glass jars.

  9. You’ve hit a chord here, we recycle or upcycle everything we can. I recently bought a frame from my favorite Gift and Thrift shop which already has the “distressed” look to frame a beautiful watercolor my deceased aunt made of the shores of Lake Michigan. I’m anxious to finish up and finally frame and display it–it had been in her artist storage stack for years. Her name, particularly apt this month, was Florence. 🙂

  10. Laurie,​ I too love to repurpose, recycle and upcycle. But my favourite and most treasured recycle is my grandfather’s chair. After he had to go into a home and his place was being sold, his family went through the house and property sorting and disposing of things. His favourite chair from when I was a child had been relegated to the front porch some years before. His family had bought him a plush new chair thinking he would be more comfortable and the old one was booted outside. Well, weather permitting, most of the time, he simply went and sat in his old chair outside. But the old wood adjustable morris recliner from the early 1900’s had been left on the porch for years in snow, rain, and floods by the time all the treasures were being sorted. No one saw any value in it and the chair destined for the burn pile. Fortunately, my mother had phoned me that day told me of its fate and so I quickly spoke up and said: “If no one wants it, I’ll take it!”

    It was set aside for me with shrugs and a shaking of the heads – well, if Terrill wants it?

    I picked the chair up on my visit that fall and wondered if possibly I had made a mistake. The wood was grey from the weather and the upholstery shot. But the structure was solid so we loaded ugly beast up and then down the province it came in the back of my aging old Ford f150 4×4 pickup.

    Over the next few weeks I refurbished, oiled and waxed the wood until it had its old warm aged glow back. We pulled out a bolt of upholstery fabric from the loft storage and tacked on fresh covers for the seat and back. By the time we were done, it was gorgeous! We adjusted the back to our liking with the iron bar and placed it in our great room where this sturdy, comfortable, memory filled chair still sits today – ten or so years later! I figure properly cared for it is good for another hundred years.

  11. I love that, Laurie. Not only did you keep it out of the landfill but you also have a reminder of a fun time spent with your husband.

    My mother-in-law, a talented crafter, creates shopping bags and purses from those plastic shopping bags. I have more than my fair share. They’ve turned more than one head.

  12. So many great ideas here, Laurie. Thank you for that. Loved the Morris recliner. I used to keep peanut butter jars and lids, thinking they’d be great for something. But soon enough I began to feel like a hoarder as Woody must go through one a week. I still save metal containers and rubber bands. You never know. Oatmeal boxes work well for puzzle pieces and other crafts for grandchildren (make note!) I could go on. However, your cardboard gelato container — colorful polka dots notwithstanding — is called kindling in this household. Cheers.

  13. Great idea 💡… love how you’ve repurposed that cardboard container. I used to do that with beer cans (some of them are pretty cool, so they look nice 👍) … love and best wishes, dear Laurie 😘

  14. I adore the polka dot pot …well I mean why wouldn’t you . My husband thinks I’m potty (sorry) when I make something out of nothing …just chuck it says he …he has no sense of adventure .
    Books …in a word . Deep down I want to hoard books till they come out of my ears but then I think …imagine the joy of that stranger when they open the book you’ve been holding on to for years and it’s down the charity shop in a hold-all …ok a jumbo suitcase .

  15. Laurie, I will recycle or reuse anything that comes my way, short of keeping an inventory called “The Ware-pile” For decades I have been using that indispensable container that so many of our great-great-grand-mothers depended on, the Mason Jar. Sugar, nails, paint, marbles, home-made wine, peanuts and garden fare all do well in a fruit jar. Wash it out, sterilize it and make pickles!

  16. I think I’m pretty good in this area. I really don’t like waste, and I am concerned about what we are going to do when the landfills are full! I still have some of the old coffee cans my grandmother used for pantry storage. I can’t bear to let them go! I wanted some new wine glasses and instead of buying new went to the Goodwill and found some really pretty vintage ones. It’s more of a lark than a need, but I do feel good about recycling. I’ve bought furniture and had it reupholstered and like to see what I can find. My mother and grandmother were impressive in their finds, and I have a little of that in me. I think being raised by parents who were Depression Era children definitely left an impression. 🙂

  17. I so enjoy all the ideas. Laurie your polka dot container brings a smile. Thank you everyone for your shares. I use small canning jars for a multiple purposes including canning, of course,: pencil/pen holders, beeswax poured e-candles; small flower vases (diamond style jars are pretty for that use) and larger ones for storing food leftovers, powdered sugar, a taper e-candle storage with matches, buttons, and coins and more. This fall I plan to re-purpose an old thick sweater into a everyday pair of mittens with lining material for extra warmth. It’s so easy; just cut into the two sides of your hand size pattern, crochet sides together, cut and sew lining material (water resistant material best) into another glove and sew that onto the inside of the mitten and voila! new gloves! Thankfully, we have great recycling opportunities here in Wisconsin.

  18. Librarian daughter loves to recycle items or repurposed things, my favorite from last year, she took Hard cider bottles and Root beer glass bottles and cut them down just the right size for votive candles. To top the green and brown rounds she etched the glasses each with a maple leaf. I was able to give each member of my book group one as we worked on journal writing and our own journey from the start of Autumn to the start of Winter. Our plant garbage goes to make the best garden soil on the planet! LOve the ideas shared here Thank you all

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