According to the latest data from the US Environmental Protection Agency, more than 146 million tons of solid waste ends up in US landfills each year. Of that, 37 million tons were “durable goods,” products manufactured to last up to three years or more.
That’s about a quarter of all items that eventually end up in a landfill. But that doesn’t mean the things you no longer use have to contribute to landfill waste.
When you recycle furniture, electronics, clothing, and other items—that is, use them for a purpose other than what they were originally intended for—you help the environment by reducing landfill. But you can also save some money and end up with some pretty cool stuff that will make you proud of your ingenuity and impress your friends.
Curious about what you have in your home that you can upcycle? Browse our list of things you can use for a new purpose.
Old TVs and consoles
That vintage TV cabinet or TV/stereo console gathering dust in the basement doesn’t need to end up in a landfill. Remove electronic components and dispose of them at your local electronics recycling center. Then start creating a trendy and upscale dog bed like this one at Country Living for your best binge-watching bud.
You can find many ideas and instructions for converting old TVs and consoles into a dog or cat bed on the Internet.
shoes and boots
Are you looking for a creative way to upgrade old shoes and boots? How about planting geraniums or other flowering annuals in your children’s fully grown snowshoes? Flowers and herbs can also be planted in old hiking boots.
Old entertainment centers
This oak entertainment center may have been finely crafted and expensive in the 90’s. But no matter how pristine that bulky piece of furniture is now, it’s almost impossible to resell because today’s electronics don’t take up as much space as TVs, VCRs, stereos, and DVD players of the past.
The good news is that there are many ways to upgrade old entertainment centers for a new purpose. Slide it into the mud room to use as storage for boots and shoes, dog leashes, coats and exercise equipment. If it’s a small entertainment center, take apart the essentials, paint them and use it as a coffee or wine bar in the kitchen.
Other ways to repurpose an entertainment center include using it as a storage unit in a laundry room or home office, or as a plant potting station or craft/sewing closet.
Even if they’re frayed, torn and falling apart, there are many ways you can breathe new life into old jeans, according to sustainability site Treehugger.
Cut old jeans into strips and make a braided denim rug. Make denim coasters out of back pockets. If you’ve got a knack for sewing, fashion a faded pair into a denim tote bag or handbag to extend its life for years to come.
Next time you polish a bottle of wine, save the cork. According to HGTV Handmade, you can repurpose old wine corks into all sorts of cool things, including keychains, coasters, garden markers and place card holders for dinner guests. Stick a magnet like the one shown here onto a wine cork, hollow out the cork to house a succulent plant and you have a one-of-a-kind fridge magnet.
If you and your friends end up drinking a lot of wine over time — like 100-150 corks worth — make a bathroom cork mat like this creation by Wet & Forget featured on Instructables Living.
Old napkin rings can be used in many ways depending on the design and material.
They can also be great cable organizers for office storage or cable holders for a tidy look in living areas with multiple electronic devices. You can also repurpose napkin rings as curtain holders or candle holders. or turn them into holiday ornaments with paint and glitter, according to CraftCue.com.
Grandma’s old china
Not sure what to do with the inherited china taking up space in your closet? Fortunately, you can still honor this keepsake china by giving it a new purpose.
Wear safety goggles and gloves, and break plates, serving platters, and teacups into small or large pieces. Then glue the decorative pieces onto a side table to create a mosaic tabletop that you can admire every day. You can also use pieces of porcelain to create a fancy mosaic bird bath surface.
Glue a brightly colored serving bowl upside down onto a sawed-off tree stump for a funky mushroom yard or garden ornament.
Other creative ways to repurpose old china and other plates, according to Country Living: Decorate a vase with glued pieces of china; Use a cream pot or other tableware as a planter. reuse teacups as candle holders; or attach fragments to a plaque to display your house number.
Bag for mesh products
Don’t throw away the mesh bags that contain oranges, onions, lemons and other produce. Place them at the bottom of potted plants to allow for better drainage and prevent soil from falling through the pot’s drainage hole.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links in our stories.