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7 Coolest Upcycling Projects from Pinterest

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Repin these awesome upcycling projects for a fun way to breathe new life into old stuff.


Raise your hand if you’re a Pinterest addict. Wow, there are a lot of you out there! It’s okay, I’m one too. There’s something about collecting all those photos, recipes, ideas and tips, and imagining a life that’s tidier, prettier, and more delicious, and with more cultured and better-adjusted kids.

But one of my favorite aspects of Pinterest is the wealth of creative ideas for upcycling everything from used jars (I mined Pinterest for some of the ideas that went into my piece on new uses for old jars) to shipping pallets. If we all incorporated some of these clever projects into our lives, imagine the benefits! Less trash would head to the landfills, and our completed projects might stand in for a new purchase — after all, do we really need more stuff, when there’s already so much?

Get out your toolbox or craft supplies, and get inspired to find a new use for something before throwing it away! Here are some of the neatest upcycling projects, both large and small, that have made an impact in the Pinterest universe:

  1. A plastic shampoo or lotion bottle gets new life as a charging station for a cell phone: Cut out the bottom portion of the bottle, leaving one high side with a cutout big enough for the plug to fit through (it hangs from the plug in the outlet), and cover it with cute paper or fabric.
  2. Turn favorite T-shirts, dresses and other fabric items (particularly things that are torn or stained, which you can’t donate) into a memory quilt: The blog Lil Blue Boo has great instructions.
  3. I’m in love with this little set of wee stuffed animals, tucked into a bed made from an Altoids tin: A pattern for the little creatures is available for purchase, but if you’re handy you can design them yourself — perhaps using some upcycled fabric from cast-off clothing!
  4. A clever blogger at Instructables turned a suitcase into a picnic table: An old-school hard-sided suitcase becomes a portable picnic table when you complete it with retractable legs and a speaker system (so that you can plug in your iPod for some music to dine by).
  5. You know those old-fashioned cookie tins that always seem to be in ample supply at flea markets and estate sales?: The blogger at Can’t Stop Making Things was inspired by a pricy tiered table from Pottery Barn to use a few old tins to make a three-tiered stand, perfect for holding fruit in the kitchen or sewing notions in the craft room.
  6. I never thought much about those wooden shipping pallets that you see piled up behind big-box stores until I started seeing all the Pinterest projects for using them: In particular, I like the idea of using the pallets to make a set of patio furniture. Just keep in mind that pallets might have been exposed to chemicals, bacteria, moisture, mold and other nastiness, so take care when working with them, and be judicial about what you use them for.
  7. In a roundup of 151 (!) upcycling projects on SavvySugar.com, I found an awesome use for all the issues of National Geographic magazine that are stacked up in various corners of our house: Stack them up and turn them into a little stool! Leather straps or ribbons can hold the stack together, and you can even top it with a pillow.

And don’t forget to follow Recyclebank on Pinterest; we’re always pinning awesome upcycling ideas!

Do you have any cool upcycling projects you want to try? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • Julie R. 1 month ago
    Love this recycling site learn & earn :)
  • Heidi B. 2 months ago
    Why did I start reading this?! Lol. I was perfectly happy tossing magazines in the ♻ bin -now I want to make paper beads and crochet a vhs tape purse!
  • Ramona B. 2 months ago
    Really enjoyed learning about paper
  • Beverly M. 3 months ago
    I make cloth and yarn animals and instead of cotton stuffing I use old Wal Mart plastic bags and it works great!!
  • Deborah W. 4 months ago
    I up-cycle old VHS tapes and grocery bags by crocheting with them. Check out Pinterest or YouTube for inspiration.
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