Transforming Trash: 25 Creative Ways to Repurpose for Savings

There’s no doubt that we’re living in a disposable world. Sometimes, it seems like everything we touch is destined to be thrown away. If you’re looking for ways to get more out of what you already own, you’ll love these 25 creative ways to repurpose everyday items. In addition to keeping useful things out of landfills, these tricks will help you save money by eliminating the need to buy more when you already have perfectly suitable alternatives at your fingertips.

1. Turn Old T-shirts into Cleaning Rags

a pile of coloured t-shirt
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We all have those t-shirts that are too worn out to wear but not worn out enough to be thrown away. Rather than waste them, cut them into squares and use them as cleaning rags. Rags made from shirts are soft, absorbent, and perfect for wiping down surfaces and cleaning throughout the house.

2. Reuse Glass Jars as Storage Containers

glass jars full of beans and grains
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Finished with that jar of pasta sauce? Clean it out and give it a new life as a storage option. These durable containers are perfect for leftovers, homemade dressings, and other uses around the kitchen. But they’re also great for holding small items like buttons, screws, pens, and more throughout the house.

3. Create Planters from Old Boots or Shoes

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Transform old boots or shoes into quirky planters for your garden. Just fill them with soil and plant your favorite flowers or herbs. They add a unique touch to your garden and are a fun way to recycle footwear that’s past its prime. Want to add color? I love painting mine bright colors that complement my outdoor decor.

4. Use Egg Cartons for Seed Starters

Plants in a used egg box
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Starting a garden? Cardboard egg cartons are the perfect size, shape, and material to serve as seed starters. Once your seedlings are ready, plant them, carton and all, directly into the soil.

5. Repurpose Old Towels into Bath Mats

Rolled up towels on a bathroom floor
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You can easily turn thick, fluffy towels that have seen better days into comfy bath mats. All you need to do is cut them to size and sew the edges to prevent fraying. You’ll end up with a soft, absorbent mat that adds a cozy touch to your bathroom.

6. Turn Wine Corks into Bulletin Board

Image of wine corks
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Easily create a chic and rustic bulletin board using wine corks, a picture frame, and a hot glue gun. They’re perfect for hanging notes, photos, or recipes, and they make simple but elegant gifts

7. Upcycle Old Books into Shelves

row of books
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A cute idea for an office or study is to repurpose old books into unique, floating shelves. Just attach brackets to the back cover and mount them on the wall. I find that you’ll achieve the cleanest look when you use hardcover books, though paperbacks will work just as well if that’s all you have.

8. Reuse Old Ladders as Bookshelves

woman standing next to a white ladder with books
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Don’t throw out that old ladder — instead, stand it against a wall and use the rungs to hold books, plants, or decorative items. Need a way to store your mountain of covers and throws? Use an actual old wooden ladder rather than waste money on an expensive blanket ladder.

9. Convert Mason Jars into Soap Dispensers

mason jar on a bathroom shelf with decorative pine cones
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I really hate the idea of throwing away perfectly good jars! For this tip, gather your old mason and food jars to convert into stylish soap dispensers. Drill a hole in the lid, fit a pump, and voila! You’ve got a homemade dispenser that’s both functional and attractive.

10. Repurpose CD Racks into Bag Organizers

standing black metal CD rack
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I’m certain you still have a CD rack or two hiding somewhere in your house. They’re largely obsolete for their original use, but you can give them new life as racks to neatly store clutches, purses, and small backpacks. Place them in a closet or other convenient location for easy access.

11. Turn Suitcases into Pet Beds

two small dogs sitting inside a suitcase
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When your suitcase is no longer fit for travel, give it a good cleaning and donate it to your pets. With just the addition of a soft pillow and maybe a blanket, your luggage is instantly transformed into a pet bed.

12. Use Old Tires as Garden Planters

painted used tyres containing plants in the garden
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You may be surprised to learn that many landfills don’t accept old tires. That’s okay because they’re easy to paint and use as planters throughout your yard. I love their industrial charm and how they’re the perfect base for flowers and small bushes. To be on the safe side, the only thing I won’t use them for is herbs and vegetables I intend to eat.

13. Convert Old Picture Frames into Serving Trays

wooden serving tray
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Turning old picture frames into stylish serving trays doesn’t take much effort. Just replace the photo with a piece of decorative paper or fabric and add handles to the sides. They’re cute for serving breakfast in bed or hosting elegant tea parties.

14. Repurpose Old Sheets into Curtains

women opening curtains with a pile of folded sheets in the foreground
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Got old sheets? Turn them into curtains. With a little sewing, you can create lovely, light curtains that add a personal touch to your windows. I love using patterns or colors that match my decor palette so I can change things up whenever I’d like.

15. Use Shower Curtain Rings for Scarf Storage

pine wooden showeer rings
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Shower curtain rings are so handy for organizing scarves in your closet. Attach the rings to a hanger, and then loop your scarves through them. This is an easy, affordable way to keep your scarves neat and wrinkle-free.

16. Transform Wine Bottles into Candle Holders

candle wax around the tip of two wine bottles
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With almost no effort, empty wine bottles make elegant candle holders. Just place a taper candle in the opening of the bottle and light. These DIY candle holders make for a romantic dinner setting or a serene bathroom ambiance.

17. Upcycle Old Jeans into Aprons

image of a woman sewing with denim material
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Don’t throw away those old jeans! Cut them up and turn them into durable, stylish aprons. The denim material is tough and can withstand a lot of wear and tear, making it perfect for cooking or gardening.

18. Create Coasters from Old Magazines

a pile of blank table coasters next to a pile of magazines
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This upcycling idea is great to do with the kiddos! Gather some old magazines, tear out the pages, and roll them into fun, unique coasters. They’re wonderful conversation starters and add a pop of color to your coffee table.

19. Convert a Colander into a Lampshade

image of a colender lampshade in a kitchen
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Switch out your boring lampshade for a quirky, industrial-style look with a kitchen colander. The holes create a unique light pattern that’s perfect for a relaxed ambiance. Just be sure to use a metal colander so as not to melt plastic.

20. Use Bread Clips for Cord Labels

multi-coloured bread clips on a table
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Bread clips are actually quite perfect for labeling cords. To use them, write the name of the device on the clip and attach it to the cord — it’s really that simple. I like to use them to label the kids’ tablet chargers so they don’t fight over them.

21. Turn Greeting Cards into Bookmarks

Image of pretty bookmarks on a table
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Don’t toss out those old greeting cards! Cut them into strips and use them as bookmarks instead. They’re pretty, sturdy, and just the right size.

22. Repurpose Old Newspapers for Window Cleaning

two women cleaning a window with newspapers
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Newspapers are surprisingly effective for cleaning windows. They don’t leave lint behind like paper towels and give a streak-free shine. This is a trick that my mama passed down, and it really does work!

23. Convert Empty Lip Balm Containers into Mini Storage

two pots of lip balm with the lid off
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Empty lip balm containers are perfect for storing small items like earrings, pins, or even pills. They’re a smart way to keep your purse organized, and you’re reusing something you would otherwise throw away.

24. Make a Pin Cushion from an Old Teacup

tea cup with pin cushion inside on kitchen worktop
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Fill an old teacup with stuffing to create a charming pin cushion. It’s a quaint, decorative way to store your sewing pins and adds a vintage touch to your craft area. If you have more teacups, use them to store buttons, thimbles, thread, and other sewing supplies.

25. Use Old Calendars for Wrapping Paper

a mix of calenders
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Old calendars often have beautiful, high-quality images, so reuse them as unique wrapping paper. This is a creative, eco-friendly way to present gifts, and each one is like a work of art. If you don’t have enough material to cover an entire gift, cut a piece of the calendar to serve as the gift tag.

21 States Where Squatters Can Legally Claim Your Property

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Discover how squatters’ rights, or adverse possession, are more than just legal jargon—they’re stories of unexpected twists in the world of real estate. From sunny California to the historical landscapes of Pennsylvania, here’s how these laws could turn the tables on homeowners and squatters alike. 21 States Where Squatters Can Legally Claim Your Property

14 Things That Are Banned in the U.S. but Totally Fine Elsewhere

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Ever feel like America’s rulebook was written by someone with a dartboard? Across the pond or down under, things get even wackier. Let’s take a walk on the wild side of global “Do’s” that are definite “Don’ts” in the Land of the Free. 14 Things That Are Banned in the U.S. but Totally Fine Elsewhere

25 American States Nobody Wants to Visit Anymore

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Across the United States, some states capture the hearts and itineraries of many, while others remain quietly on the sidelines, overshadowed or misunderstood. These 25 states, facing what you might call a popularity crisis, are brimming with hidden wonders, cultural riches, and natural beauty, awaiting those willing to look beyond the usual tourist trails. 25 American States Nobody Wants to Visit Anymore

20 Foods That Are Cheaper to Eat Out Than Making at Home

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In a world where convenience often wins, certain culinary delights come with a lower price tag when enjoyed at a restaurant rather than crafted in your own kitchen. Here are twenty foods that might save you both time and money when indulged in at your favorite eatery. 20 Foods That Are Cheaper to Eat out Than Making at Home

17 Things You’re Paying For, but You Don’t Have To

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In the land of the free, there’s a price tag on everything, but savvy Americans know better than to open their wallets for just anything. Here are 17 expenses you’ve been shelling out for without realizing there’s a cheaper or even free alternative. 17 Things You’re Paying For, but You Don’t Have To

The post Transforming Trash: 25 Creative Ways to Repurpose for Savings first appeared on From Frugal to Free.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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