45 Stylish And Sustainable Eco-Friendly Tips To Give Trash A New Life

By Ridwan S

Carbon footprints refer to the overall amount of greenhouse gases that our actions produce. The footprints are a way for us to measure the effects of human-induced global climate changes. Carbon emissions, greenhouse gases, and plastic pollution are all major players in the changes we’ve made to our planet. It’s no news that global climate change is a complex science, one in which its future impacts are uncertain. But while we’re still trying to get a concrete answer to the consequences of our actions, we try to reduce our impact in the meantime. While it may seem difficult, making changes that reduce our waste, both now and in the future, is easier than you think. If you’re at a loss for where to begin your zero-waste journey, then check out these DIY hacks. And, if you’re a veteran, maybe you’ll find some hacks that you haven’t tried yet.

Nail polish fabric deco

If you like painting your nails, then you likely always have a paper towel or makeup remover pad on hand to wipe off the old coat. Why not trade in disposable pads for a reusable cloth? An old T-shirt is all you need for this hack.

Image courtesy: buffnuggies.com

For some bonus points in creativity, use a lighter color T-shirt and don’t rip it into strips for each use. Leave it as a whole piece, and after only a few uses, your junk shirt will have a colorful new design.

Portable lunch utensils

Reusable water bottles are commonplace nowadays, but how about reusable utensils? We might not think about it often, but plasticware from takeout meals can quickly add up. Instead, pack reusable utensils in a pencil case or a fabric pouch if you’re feeling crafty.

Image courtesy: frame.brightside.me

This set of reusables doesn’t take up a lot of space in your bag, so there’s no excuse not to bring it with you. If you’re already doing this, why not upgrade it and include a reusable cloth napkin? It’s a great way to save paper from napkins when you get takeout.

Old candle wax

Many people find candles calming, not just for their scents but for the relaxing flicker of the flames. Unfortunately, by the end of its use, we are left with a container of wax that can no longer hold a flame. Instead of throwing it away, save the wax to mold a new candle!

Image courtesy: Shrek/Reddit

You can soften the old wax by microwaving it or holding a bowl over boiling water, but only just enough to make it pliable. Then, shape it into whatever design you want. Just don’t forget to add a new wick in the center of it.

Old benches made new

Throwing away the old benches did not sit well with this school caretaker. It’s clear from the picture on the left that these benches were damaged, but not enough to justify a trip to the landfill. Instead, he decided to put his craft to work and give the old benches an uplifting touch.

Image courtesy: barnorama.com

He dedicated his summer holidays to repairing the old chairs. It wasn’t easy or quick, but the results are absolutely worth it. We are impressed by his dedication and skill. We need more people like him in our society, don’t you think?

Gift wrapping with old notes

Buying a gift for your loved ones during the holidays can be difficult, and we are relieved when we find the right present. But we get frustrated again when it comes time to wrap it. Wrapping paper can be a waste of resources and money. Next time you need to disguise your gifts, try this:

Image courtesy: lyssyl

If you have some old school notes lying around your house, turn them into gift wrappers before tossing them in the recycling bin. It gives your present a unique twist, especially with colored notes like the one in the picture.

Old fabric patchwork

Patchwork blankets are amazing works of art. Doesn’t the one in the picture look fantastic? And it doesn’t take much, either. All you need are some old fabrics and a design of your choice. Then, piece it all together and get sewing!

Image courtesy: toptalent.com

Crafting a patchwork is similar to making a mosaic. Layout your designs, cut your fabrics in squares, and stitch them together. Aside from being attractive, patchworks can also be made into useful items, depending on the materials you use. For example, you can make a pillowcase or blanket.

Broken cookies redesigned

We love baking, especially around the holidays. Unfortunately, sometimes our cutely shaped cookies break, leaving us heartbroken and staring at a tray full of ruined treats. Then again, maybe they’re not so much broken as they are redesigned. This baker certainly has the right idea!

Image courtesy: demilked.com

Use frosting or other decorations to turn broken cookies into works of art. Make use of the happy accident and get creative with it. Now you won’t feel like you wasted ingredients making cookies that didn’t turn out as whole as you expected.

Old wool pet bed

Getting a comfy bed for your furry friend can cost you a lot of money. Of course, they should always be comfortable, but that doesn’t mean it needs to come from a factory. Instead of buying a costly bed at the pet store, make one for yourself from old clothing.

Image courtesy: demilked.com

This environmental-friendly and cost-effective alternative can be done using any kind of fabric. In this image, the creator used an old woolly sweater. All you need to make a bed like this one is some fabric and crochet hooks. Oh, and of course, a furry friend to enjoy your creation.

Restored stylish furniture

Who would have guessed that a single piece of old furniture could revamped into a two-piece set? Not us! So, you should understand how amazed we are after seeing the result. We love the newer pieces better for two reasons. One, they look fantastic. And two, it’s a great way to reduce waste!

Image courtesy: ZeroWaste/Reddit

The best part of restoring and repurposing furniture is that you don’t need to keep the same paint or style as the original. If you’re not a fan of vintage furniture, use fusion mineral paint to transform it into something more modern.

Hand-made wooden cooking spoons

Wooden cookware has been around for as long as humans have had tools. But old doesn’t mean outdated. Wooden utensils are better for the environment and our health. Silicone cookware might have a modern appeal, but the materials used take a toll on the planet.

Image courtesy: ZeroWaste/Reddit

Let’s face it; wooden cookwares are classic, durable, and way healthier than any other modern alternative. Also, they contribute to the aesthetics of your kitchen when properly arranged, just like in the image above. Hence, we recommend substituting most of your plastic, metals, and silicones with wood.

Old sweater pet bed

We’re back with another pet bed. If you don’t feel confident in your crocheting skills, maybe a simple sewing project is the way to go. For this, you just need some old sweaters or T-shirts and stuffing. The latter can even come from old clothes too torn to sew with.

Image courtesy: successfullifelounge.com

As you’ll quickly learn, T-shirts and old fabrics should be saved, not discarded. They’re handy raw materials for countless crafting and DIY projects. If they’re too stained to use for crafting, use them as cleaning rags instead. We can’t think of a single reason to toss out old shirts.

Repurposed plastic bottles

We may not think of it much, but plastic bottles take a massive toll on the environment. Did you know that they’re the third most common item found at beach cleanups? Reduce where you can, and repurpose the rest. Consider reusing every bottle at least two to three times before recycling it.

Image courtesy: Costco/Reddit

This is a great habit for parents to get into. This will teach kids the importance of repurposing and reusing over wasteful behaviors. Plastic bottles come in all shapes and sizes, like this cute old honey bear. What a perfect way to store dish soap!

Zero waste make-up remover pads

Slowly, the world is shifting to reusable options over single-use disposables. Did you know that makeup remover pads are also on the list? They are a must for any fashionist/a looking to reduce their waste. You can buy them from sustainable vendors, or craft them yourself.

Image courtesy: bananorama.com

We absolutely love the one in the picture! If you’re going to DIY this, we recommend using blankets or similar soft materials that are a close imitation of the disposable ones. Your face will appreciate it… If you don’t have anything at home, ask around. Perhaps your friends have some old blankets they’re looking to get rid of.

Old fabric tweed rug

For lovers of handicrafts, here is something to keep you busy. The process is easy, straightforward, and enjoyable. All you have to do is braid the pieces together. We will advise that you get different colors of fabrics to give the rug a burst of colors.

Image courtesy: bobbyskimchi

This rug will be easier to make if you already know how to make braids. Of course, that’s not a requirement. You can piece it together however you want. Make sure to cut the fabrics into fine lines so that you will get a lovely rug.

Candy box becomes medicine carrier

We are all guilty of having a sweet tooth. While some of us prefer chocolate, others prefer more sugary treats. If you’re in the latter group, save that tin candy box next time you satisfy your craving. You are probably starting to figure out that everything has more than one use.

Image courtesy: ZeroWaste/Reddit

For those who need to take medication daily, it’s always good to have a backup dose, but it can be embarrassing to carry around a medicine bottle. But not anymore with this hack. Add in dividers made of old nail files and you have a perfect travel medicine container!

Bag made from fabric poster

No matter how zero waste we try to be, there are times when we can’t find an eco-friendly alternative. Presentations with large posters are just one example of this. To make it worse, they don’t get more than a few days’ use before going into the garbage. But not anymore.

Image courtesy: tessactm

If you have durable poly-fabric posters, you can transform them into a stylish bag. Not only do you get to save your project from becoming landfill fodder, but you don’t feel like it was such a waste of time. And bonus points if it’s from a presentation about sustainability.

The staring garbage bin

We have to give the person who made this one points for creativity. Having a garbage can with big eyes looking back at you every time you throw something out is sure to make you pause and consider if your trash really belongs in a landfill.

Image courtesy: awfultwatwaffle

This is another hack that is great if you have kids. It will help them learn to pay more attention to their garbage in a fun way. For some more style points, add a recycling bin next to it with a smiley face on the side.

Refill store

The idea of a zero-waste lifestyle is becoming more acceptable in today’s society. To nurture this sentiment, some people have opened zero-waste shops where customers can shop without using a single piece of plastic! Beans, rice, dried fruit, tea, spices, olive oil, conditioner — you name it, the refill store probably has it.

Image courtesy: ZeroWaste/Reddit

This is the perfect way to start your zero-waste journey. You can buy as must or as little as you want, and can slowly wean your way into making it a regular habit. If this is something you already do, try bringing some friends along next time you go shopping. Maybe they’ll be inspired to do the same.

DIY soap holder

We have something for minimalists — this cute DIY soap holder. If you’re switching to soap bars, you’re going to need to get soap dishes, too. And for shower bars, it’s important to get ones that allow all sides of the bar to air out in between use.

Image courtesy: Pleated-jeans.com

This DIY project is perfect for all levels, even beginners. All you need are some wooden sticks and some thread; use the thread to wrap the sticks together, as shown above, and voilà. Looking at this, we’re inspired to go make one for ourselves!

Creative solution for missing wrapping paper

This one is a perfect DIY for kids and artists alike during the holiday season. Even if you’re thinking of switching to the old notes wrapping paper, you might still have some scraps of old store-bought wrap. But what do you do if it doesn’t cover the whole present?

Image courtesy: unbatch.com

Fill in the blank spaces with cardboard (from the recycling bin, of course) and color it as the same pattern as the rest of the wrapping paper. Or get creative and make a contrasting design. Either way, it’s a great way to save waste and add an additional personal touch to your gifts.

Building made of dirt and recycled materials

We might not think of it often, but constructing buildings can be a wasteful process. And we’re not just talking about the exhaust from machines. Everything has an environmental cost, and the architect of this house didn’t want to contribute to more waste. So, meet the sustainable house made of recycled materials and dirt!

Image courtesy: buildwithrise.com

The builder used “trash” and natural resources to construct their home. If you’re wondering how dirt comes into play, they used compressed earth blocks to construct the walls. How cool is that? We commend this person for utilizing nature without taking advantage of the available resources.

Tin can lid for picture hanging

Here is a hack that will make sure you never run out of picture hangers in your home. We love how people are choosing to embrace a zero-waste lifestyle. The ideas they come up with are more creative than we could imagine and often more simple than we’d expect.

Image courtesy: blabbitygabbity

Next time you buy a canned product, remember to keep the lid. We would never have guessed that they’d make for the perfect picture frame hangers, but this picture certainly proves us wrong. Don’t forget to wash any food or oils off of it before use, and be careful of sharp edges.

Zero waste nature confetti

Confetti might be cheap to buy, but it’s expensive for the environment. Those tiny shreds of synthetic material end up scattered in the wind, where they can spend hundreds of years polluting the environment. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use confetti at all…

Image courtesy: LilianaHRead/Twitter

Next time you have a party outdoors, make some colorful confetti out of leaves or flowers. This may take a bit more time for setup, but it’s faster in the long run because you don’t need to chase down tiny shreds of plastic at the end of a party.

Shampoo and conditioner made into soap

Did you know that soap bars aren’t just for hand or body wash? That’s right! Shampoo, conditioner, and even dish soap bars are making their way into more and more shops. We may not think of it much, but those plastic bottles certainly can add up.

Image courtesy: pictolic.com

Shampoo bars are perfect for getting the exact amount of soap you need; you never again need to worry about pouring out too much or too little. If you can’t find these at stores near you, there are even some online stores that ship plastic-free, using recycled cardboard packaging instead.

Plastic packaging repurposed

If you shop online, it’s nearly impossible to avoid plastic bags. Aside from products being wrapped in plastic, the boxes themselves often contain air packs used to keep the items from shifting around. Although some stores are embracing alternatives, most are stuck in the old habit of using plastic.

Image courtesy: ZeroWaste/Reddit

If you find yourself stuck with plastic wrap from shopping, give it another life as a garbage bag! Even if it only gets one extra use, that’s still one more than it had before, right? And as a bonus, you save even more bags in the future that you would have bought separately, creating even more plastic waste.

Zero waste dried celery

What do you do with the soiled and ugly-looking celery you got from the market? If you’ve been tossing them out, you can do better. Instead of throwing “ugly” celery in the garbage, put them aside and let them dry.

Image courtesy: GoodRisingTweets/Reddit

When it is properly dried, put it in a mortar and crush it into tiny pieces or powder. You can also use a blender or smoothie mixer if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. This hack isn’t only for celery. You can do this with countless other herbs and vegetables.

Dumpster book library

Here’s an inspiring story from Turkey. As with everywhere in the world, many books were being tossed in the garbage, even though they might have still been readable. So, to save this wealth of knowledge from cluttering landfills, some inventive people created a book-sharing initiative.

Image courtesy: creapills/Twitter

We hope that everyone will take the initiative and contribute positively to waste management in their society. It doesn’t necessarily have to be building a library; find something creative you can do with salvaged books. You can start an initiative by collecting old books and donating them to charity.

Wine cap art

This is one we’d never heard of but are eager to try out for ourselves. The art you see below was created using aluminum wine lids. If the poster didn’t tell us, we never would have guessed what it was made out of. This is creativity at its peak.

Image courtesy: creapills/Twitter

Although we don’t know the process behind this art, we believe it must have taken a lot of time and effort. Even if you don’t think you have the design skills for this, you can still give it a shot. Worst case scenario, you can recycle the used aluminum lids.

Banana leaf packaging

Another source of plastic waste we don’t often think about is food packaging. It’s not just chip bags, but many fruits and vegetables at the store are packaged in plastic bags or containers. What’s even more infuriating is when stores put products in packaging that don’t require it.

Image courtesy: thebetterindia.com

Why create packaging when nature already has everything we need? The greens you see above are wrapped in banana leaves. How cool is that? This initiative can be 100% zero-waste if you have access to a compost bin, where you can dispose of the leaves.

Rent a pan

We mentioned book shares in the underground library, but have you thought about cookware sharing? We are absolutely in love with this idea! If you like to bake in different shapes, a pan-sharing space is a perfect solution. It saves space in your cabinet and is cheaper than buying a new pan for each occasion.

Image courtesy: philadelphia/Reddit

Initiatives like this are an excellent way to reduce waste. There are similar ideas like this all over the world, such as a community tool/appliance share, where locals can rent out equipment like vacuum cleaners and drills. This inspires us to start one in our own community!

Repurposed deco-made trampoline

Upcycling is not difficult. All you need are old supplies and some imagination. Take this old trampoline as an example. We never would have imagined it could be turned into a work of art. But this person certainly proved us wrong.

Image courtesy: acidcow.com

This person turned an old trampoline into a mini garden. Everything in your house can be repurposed into something unique and creative. Be it shelves, broken crates, old chairs, and wardrobes. All of them can be used for other unique purposes outside the conventional use that they are meant for.

Water jugs made into cat shelters

It’s a well-known fact that cats love to stay in enclosed environments. Their love of boxes is certainly no secret, but it doesn’t just need to be boxes. Any similarly enclosed container will do. For this hack, take a water jug big enough to comfortably accommodate a cat, slice off the top, and lay a blanket inside.

Image courtesy: pleated-jeans.com

By using a water jug, it creates the perfect waterproof shelter for cats. If you have a lot of stray furry felines in your community but feel helpless to provide for them, give this DIY a go. They’re sure to love the soft, cozy space you made for them.

Cat climber made from a dead tree

On the topic of cats, we have another upcycling project for all you cat-owners. We haven’t talked a lot about repurposing old wood, but it’s a great resource you shouldn’t overlook. We’re not talking about cutting down trees here; there are plenty of fallen branches that will work for projects like this.

Image courtesy: pictolic.com

We particularly love how happy the cat looks on its climber. All thanks to its creative owner, who thought of repurposing the wood into something beneficial for their cat. The furry covering for the platform is the perfect touch. It doesn’t even look upcycled at all.

Tie-dyed old tee

We all have our favorite clothes, but with frequent use, we risk them getting stained. And because it’s our favorite, we don’t want to throw it out, either. So, if you have a shirt that is too stained for normal use, dye it to create a new pattern that will make the stain disappear.

Image courtesy: upcycling/Reddit

Use eco-friendly colorings like fruit juices instead of the usual tie-dye colors. Beetroot and red onions are nature’s dye. Add a dash of vinegar into the boiling solution for a stronger hue. We love projects like this that give junk a new life and don’t require the use of any synthetic products.

Old planks for a new flower bed

Here we have another project using old wood. With just some nails and wooden planks, you can have a cute flowerbed in no time. This DIY project doesn’t require any carpentry skills, either. All you need is the ability to safely use a hammer.

Image courtesy: barnorama.com

When you look at it closely, you will realize that it is easy to recreate. However, you can consult a friend or carpenter if you need some help. Projects like this are a great motivation for yourself if you’re going for a zero-waste life.

Desk lamp from old camera

What do you see in this picture? Well, if you see a camera on a wooden tripod, we are in the same boat. The truth is that this is an old camera made into a lamp using a big twig as the stand.

Image courtesy: glavcom.ua

There are different ways to make a homemade lamp, but this might just be our favorite. Electronic products are hard to recycle or upcycle, so projects like this are the perfect way to save old equipment from becoming landfill fodder.

Old yarn crochet make-up pads

This is yet another way to make reusable makeup remover pads. The ones in this picture are from leftover yarn. If you want something more handmade than circles from old blankets, woven pads are the project for you. Just get some crochet hooks and you’re good to go.

Image courtesy: bobbyskimchi

These appear to be made of wool, but you can use whatever material you want. For an even more zero-waste project, use sustainable, natural materials. Synthetic yarns such as those made from polymer are a derivative of plastic. 100% wool or cotton materials will complete your zero-waste project.

Refurbished furniture

We have discussed some furniture refurbishing ideas, and this is another simple and easy one. There are different means to repurpose your furniture but when it comes to simplicity, this tops the list. Although it is simple, the restoration gave the furniture a new look.

Image courtesy: tessactm

Furniture restoration is not only for personal use. If you find you have a passion for it and are proud of your work, you can sell your projects for some extra money. It won’t even cost much to make as old furniture can sometimes be free! This is an eco-friendly trend that we can get behind.

One piece to three piece set

This is something for all the fashion designing enthusiasts and/or seamstresses. Check out this jacket that was transformed into three different items! This is certainly a better solution than throwing it out, especially if there were only a few holes that made it useless as a jacket.

Image courtesy: myog/Reddit

It takes a lot of creativity and ingenuity to look at a jacket and see a hat, a backpack, and a pair of shorts! Just like the refurbished furniture, the supplies for this project can be free. After all, most people see ruined clothes as garbage, and won’t charge you to take them.

Zero waste kids play kitchen

When kids see the adults in their lives doing something, they also want to give it a try. Perhaps that is why so many kids love fake cooking. But if you want to give your kids an engaging activity without spending a lot of money on a large plastic unit, you can make your own!

Image courtesy: crafts/Reddit

Because kitchens are so versatile, you don’t need to worry about every single thing matching. Old fabrics, cardboard, and even (sanded) pieces of wood are all great materials for this DIY project. For some extra fun, allow your kids to paint the designs as you build them.

Ballon foil wrapping

Balloons are a good go-to decoration or gift to cheer up a child’s day, but they’re massive polluters. It only lasts for so long before either being thrown out or flying away into the atmosphere where, chances are, it’ll land in the ocean.

Image courtesy: aworkstation.com

But if you’re still working your way out of balloons, you can save deflated foil ones as wrapping paper. They’re durable enough not to rip when putting it around the present, and they’re almost always colorful so your wrapping won’t be too dull.

Smarter water re-use

Despite the Earth being made mostly of water, water shortages are not uncommon. One solution to this problem is using greywater. For those of you who have never heard of this term, greywater refers to reusing semi-clean water for another purpose. Usually, this takes the form of sink or shower water being used for the toilet.

Image courtesy: madgaz182

The one in the picture is a perfect example of how the water gets reused. When you wash your hands, that water is used to fill the toilet tank. Also consider having a plumber do some work to work in your shower water, as well.

Decorative hole patching with embroidery

We’ve seen ways to repurpose old clothes that are torn or stained. But what about small holes? They’re not big enough to justify throwing the item out, but they’re too big to ignore. Patches are a classic solution, but it might be hard to find one that looks good or matches your style.

Image courtesy: Visablemending/Reddit

Instead, try sewing it up. It’s a pretty way to patch up holes and add a custom touch to your clothes. This takes a bit of embroidery and/or sewing skills, but you can’t go wrong in adding flowers or similar designs to “old” clothing.

Retro Dr Martens

Shirts and pants aren’t the only articles of clothing that can get a new life. Leather shoes are still salvageable with just a bit of work. If you hate throwing out a pair of your favorite shoes, try this hack…

Image courtesy: ZeroWaste/Reddit

Take your old shoes to a cobbler to transform them into refurbished shoes. However, if you are good with your hands, you can also fix them yourself. You only need to awaken the creative shoemaker in you with some online tutorials.

Zero waste candles

Let’s end our list with this zero-waste candle idea in colored glasses. The color of the glass will reflect when the candle is burning in dim light. Aside from the recycling idea, we have a gift for you in the image below. It is something for you to laugh about.

Image courtesy: earthwonders.co

Check the spelling on the note below. Is this the new spelling of “enjoy”? We are sure this isn’t the spelling — it was just a mistake. Probably, the spelling is an inside joke between the housemates. Whichever way, we hope you “engoy” reading these zero-waste hacks.