Everyone’s heard the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” but upcycling gives it a whole new meaning. “Upcycling” is just reusing old objects and turning them into something new (and possibly even unexpected). Crafty people have always upcycled old materials — either to fulfill their recycling duties or to save some money — but in the age of blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram, upcycling tutorials are now everywhere, and even those of us who aren’t as crafty are starting to catch on.
When you’re looking for a way to decorate your apartment or make it a little more functional on a budget, upcycling projects are the way to go. Most importantly, upcycling is a great way to keep materials out of landfills and extend their lives, making it an eco-friendly way to personalize your home. Here are some of our favorite upcycling projects for you to try in your own apartment:
Turn Your Trash Can Into a Gardening Container
Have an old metal trash can that’s seen better days? Try turning it into a portable gardening container! First, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your trash can to eliminate any odors and stains. Then, drill some holes in the bottom to ensure that your plants will be able to get good drainage. Once the holes have been drilled, attach some caster wheels to the bottom of the can, so you’ll be able to easily move your plant from one sunny room to the next. Depending on the size of your trash can, you’ll need to fill the bottom of it with materials like plastic bottles or stones before adding in the potting soil and plant. You want to ensure that your plant is sticking out of the top so that it gets adequate sunlight. Put a whole group of mobile plant containers in a sunny part of your apartment or even in the bathroom, where there’s lots of moisture.
Turn Leftover Coffee Grounds Into Candles
If you’re a coffee fanatic, it’s time to put those leftover grounds to good use! Using some leftover coffee grounds, a paper coffee cup, a candle wick (which you can purchase at a craft goods store), and some wax candle remnants, you can make a new candle that smells like a freshly brewed pot of coffee. First, squeeze out coffee grounds inside a paper towel to ensure you’ve gotten rid of all the liquid, and place them at the bottom of a clean and dry paper cup. Then position your candle wick right in the center of the cup. After that, you’ll need to melt your wax for the candle. To do that, you’ll have to place your wax candle remnants in a heat-safe metal bowl, and put the bowl over the top of a saucepan filled halfway with water. Once the candle wax melts, just pour it into the coffee cup with the coffee grounds.
Let the wax harden for a bit (about 20 minutes), and then add another layer of coffee grounds to the cup, followed by another layer of wax. Note that you may need to reheat the wax over the stove to achieve the right consistency.
Once the wax has completely hardened, cut the paper cup open. You should now have your very own homemade coffee candle!
Turn Your Candle Jar Into a Bathroom Organizer
If you burn a lot of candles, don’t throw out the glass jars they come in — turn them into something new instead! All you’ll need to complete the project is a glass candle jar, a sturdy metal candlestick (which you can pick up at a local thrift store for pretty cheap), and some E-6000 glue to make everything stick together.
First, remove the wax from the jar by pouring some boiling water over the leftovers. The candle wax should pop right out with a little help from a fork or spoon. Then, remove the label with a little bit of hot soap and water. If that doesn’t work, a little adhesive remover should do the trick.
Once the jar is completely clean and dry, attach the candlestick to the bottom of it using the E-6000 glue. To make it stick, put something with a little bit of weight over the top of the candlestick, like a book or another heavy object. Let the glue dry overnight, and it’ll be ready to use by morning.
Your candle jar can now be used as a bathroom organizer to hold cotton balls, nail polish, Q-tips, hair ties, and bobby pins. You could also use the jar in the kitchen to hold sponges, spices, bags of tea, or K-cups for your morning cup of coffee. As long as you have a bunch of things that need to be stored in the same place, the possibilities are pretty much endless.
If you have a lot of unused candle jars on your hands, consider attaching candlesticks of different lengths to them to create a group of organizers at varied heights.