Creative Ways To Repurpose Old Or Unwanted Items

When we do not want something, our first instinct is to throw it away. The other option available to us is to recycle it. If you're someone who does regular decluttering in your home, chances are you come across a ton of stuff you no longer want or don't use. And while recycling has made it possible to give certain things new life, before tossing your decluttered stuff, consider how you might be able to repurpose it instead.

According to One Green Planet, repurposing or reusing unwanted items is far better than recycling. This is because recycling still causes pollution. So if you repurpose something, you're extending its life and thus giving off less pollution. But that's not the only benefit. Repurposing and reusing stuff saves you money since you're not having to go out and buy replacements. It's also more fun because you tap into your creative side to make something new. Let's look at how you can repurpose old or unwanted items.

Create mug warmers out of socks

Who hasn't lost a sock during laundry days? You feel bad because its partner sits alone, waiting for the other to appear again. But what do you do if it never does? You'd probably throw the single sock away, right? Well, one creative way to repurpose single socks is by making mug warmers. These slip-on cozies help keep your drink hotter and make it easier for you to hold the mug. The best part is you don't need to be an expert sewer to create one. Mommypotamus loves making mug warmers out of socks because they don't require any expertise.

All you need is the sock itself, scissors, and something to restitch it together, like fabric glue or seam tape. They truly make for adorable, handmade gifts that the coffee and tea lovers in your life will admire. You can make other things out of single socks, including hand puppets for kids, rice-filled heating pads, and even dust rags. You can make them for yourself or gift them to family and friends during the holidays. Either way, don't think that single sock has lost its use.

Make a t-shirt quilt

If you find yourself with a lot of t-shirts that either don't fit or you don't wear anymore, you have some incredible repurposing options available to you. Outside of transforming them into dust rags, you can also strip them up and use them in your garden for holding up posts. They also make for great packing material if you plan on moving. But one of the most popular things to do with old t-shirts is to make them into a quilt. T-shirt quilts offer a ton of value, such as being able to keep sentimental shirts. You also get an extra blanket out of the deal, so it's a major win-win.

You have a few options if you decide to repurpose tees into a quilt. You can either send them out to a professional company or make your own. According to Too Cool T-Shirt Quilts, doing it yourself requires a bit of time and patience, though the creative aspect is what makes it fun. Don't be afraid to use different size blocks, as this will give the quilt a personal touch. You can also make one quilt with all sports tees and another with funny sayings. Your options are truly endless when it comes to making tee shirt quilts.

Save mason jars for food storage

One of the most versatile things you should keep rather than recycle is mason jars. Yes, glass is endlessly recyclable, but hanging onto a few will give you so many repurposing options. For starters, mason jars make for amazing food storage. If you're into canning and pickling, these jars are ideal, and their various shapes and sizes are helpful in storing different types of foods. You can also use them for small plants, herbs, and homemade dressings.

Simple Homestead Living swears by mason jars but suggests recycling any that are chipped or cracked. You also want to ensure that you clean them thoroughly if you plan on using them as drinkware. If you find yourself with too many and don't want to get rid of them, you can organize the empty jars using egg cartons, bins, baskets, or a canning rack. It's a good idea to know what you plan on using the mason jars for before storing them away. This way, you're not crowding your shelves with something you don't plan on using.

Make a mosaic out of broken dishes

Something can break or chip when you least expect it to, and one of those items is dishes. No matter what style or brand of dinnerware you use, dishes are bound to crack over time. But this doesn't mean you should throw them away. Chipped and broken dining ware can give you the necessary supplies to make some pretty incredible artwork. Mosaics, for example, are perfect to create using old or broken dishes. The type of mosaic you make is completely up to you since you're at the mercy of what dishes are already damaged.

Running With Sisters recommends mixing and matching pieces for a unique look, especially with items you plan on gifting. You can spice up a boring potting plant by creating a stunning mosaic along the outside. You can frame a completed mosaic and hang it in your home or gift it to a friend. Another creative endeavor is making a coffee table top that will make for a great conversation starter. So gather those broken dishes and see what you can make out of them.

Pot plants in steel or tin cans

We mentioned earlier how our first instinct is to throw things away when we no longer need them. This is especially true for canned goods. Once you remove the food from the inside and rinse out the can, chances are you toss it right into recycling. But before you do, consider the ways you can repurpose those cans. Steel and tin are particularly resilient and offer many useful options. They last a long time, which is why they're endlessly recyclable. But you can reuse them in various ways that help you save money.

According to Pillar Box Blue, the best way to repurpose steel and tin cans is to turn them into planters. Because they come in various shapes and sizes, you can find exactly what you're looking for while shopping for canned goods. To give them a unique and personal touch, get creative with them. Paint the outside, spray it with gold paint, or add labels so you know what's inside each one. The beauty of steel and tin cans is that they are versatile and adaptable, so see how you can incorporate them into your garden or as centerpieces in your home.

Light up old wine bottles

A popular home decor piece you may see everywhere is string lights in bottles. This simple yet effective design is striking because of its calming nature and ease of use. If you've been intrigued to bring something like this into your home, look no further than your own wine rack. This decor piece is super easy to make, and knowing you did it yourself will give it a more special touch. In order to make your own, you only need to follow three steps, and according to Footprint Hero, this project is the easiest DIY craft you'll ever do.

You'll need an empty wine bottle, string lights, and Goo Gone to help in removing the wine's label. The type of string lights you use will vary from person to person. You can use battery-operated lights, electric lights, or solar lights. Feel free to get creative with the wine bottles, too. Use dark bottles and clear bottles for different levels of lighting. Once you've made enough for yourself, make them for friends and family. This is one home decor item that is easy to make and even easier to find a home for.

Make unique pillowcases

Earlier we talked about how an excessive amount of t-shirts can be turned into a quilt. But what if you have way more than you ever thought? So many, in fact, that you can make at least five quilts. The good news is you can do more with old shirts, like transforming them into pillowcases. This is a particularly fun craft to do, especially with shirts that no longer fit your kids. The How-To Home recommends using children's clothes for smaller throw pillows.

But know that you don't only need tee shirts to create unique pillowcases. You can use just about any piece of clothing that no longer fits. Sweater material is another great option for pillowcases, especially wool. Any leftover scraps can be used as cleaning rags or tying up garden posts. You can also use t-shirts to make reusable tote bags or create an entirely new shirt from various scraps. When it comes to clothes, you truly have a ton of repurposing options available to you.

Use egg cartons for herbs

Egg cartons are challenging to recycle, especially styrofoam ones, so finding creative ways to repurpose them can keep them from piling up in landfills. You may not think there's a lot you can do with egg cartons, but like mason jars, this object has a ton of upcycling value. The Prairie Homestead offers a variety of creative suggestions when it comes to dealing with old egg cartons. The most popular is using them as a planter for herbs and flowers.

They're ideal for getting seedlings started, and once they become too big, you can transport them to another pot. After a quick rinse, you can reuse the carton for the next batch of plants. If you're not into gardening, don't think you can't reuse them. Egg cartons make great paint cups for your kids. You can give them to friends or family who own chickens, create fun crafts out of them, or use them for packing material by cutting them up into the shape you need. So the next time you empty an egg carton, consider what you can reuse it for before tossing it in the trash.

Make an accent wall out of artwork

We all deal with paper clutter, whether bills, policies, or school reports. But one of the most common paperwork parents particularly deal with is school artwork. Kids come home with so much art, and it's hard to figure out how to store it away. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can get creative with children's artwork. It doesn't matter if they're still in school or grown and out of the house. Before you decide what to do with the artwork, Atlanta Parent recommends pairing it down by following three rules.

First, keep your absolute favorites or ask your kids which ones they love most. Then you want to display them, so they become part of the decor. Finally, you want to ensure you display it in a way that's easy to swap out since new ones will constantly be entering your home. To display it, you can set up an indoor clothesline and hang the artwork using pins. You can make homemade wallpaper and use the art to create an accent wall. Or you can spice up a bookshelf by adding the artwork to the backend for an added personal touch.

Transform a shutter into a paper rack

When it comes to repurposing old or unwanted items, sometimes the simplest thing can pack a powerful punch. For example, an old shutter can make a fantastic paper rack for just about anything. You can use it during the holidays to display cards or use it all year to hold your incoming mail or store files. Get creative with it and give it a fresh coat of paint. Bedazzle it to your liking and make one for every household member to use in their bedroom.

But paper storage is not the only thing you can do with an old shutter. According to, you have plenty of other upcycling options. You can use a few shutters to make an accent wall or create a makeshift headboard for a bed. You can cut it up and build a unique planter or lantern. You can build one using shutters if you're looking for more outdoor storage. Since they're built to withstand the elements, they're perfect for making a little cabinet to store gardening supplies.

Create a family message board

Many professional organizers talk about the importance of a family command center. According to Set Things Straight, this is where families can share information quickly and without the need to repeat it. And while you can go out and buy a wall unit specifically designed to be a command center, you can create your own by using an old window frame. Most family command centers include a chalkboard for messages, a bulletin board for pinning reminders, and an erasable board for things like meal planning.

Remove the glass from the panes, saw and paint the frame, and add the necessary elements you want. By creating your own family command center, you're adding what you need, not what brands think you need. If a family command center isn't on your radar, you can still use the window frame to make a plant stand or unique picture frame. Like everything else on this list, the repurposing options are limited only to your imagination.

Get crafty with old magazines

Despite the rise of online publications, magazines are still widely read and printed. In fact, we print about 350 million magazines every year in the United States alone. But as Going Zero Waste reports, only 20% of those are recycled. That's why it's important to find creative ways to use old magazines, so you're less tempted to throw them in the garbage. And luckily, because it's paper, there's a lot you can do with it.

Magazine paper tends to be on the thicker side, so it's great for making crafts like origami. You can use it for wrapping paper during the holidays or stuffing material to hold the shape of your boots. Use the images to create an accent wall in a cabinet or on the back of bookshelves. You can also save them for vision boarding and other personal projects. If you're moving, you can use magazine paper to protect delicate or breakable items since the paper is thicker. Whatever you don't use can be recycled; just make sure to remove any perfume samples that may still be inside.