Clever Ways to Reuse Your Kitchen Trash

Kitchen trash might seem destined for the bin, but with a touch of creativity, you can give many discarded items a new lease on life. Reusing kitchen scraps reduces waste and saves money by transforming would-be garbage into practical products. This article will explore clever DIY ways to reuse common kitchen trash in eco-friendly and budget-friendly ways.


The average household generates a staggering amount of kitchen waste each year, from food scraps to broken gadgets and empty containers. While diligent recycling and composting can divert much of this material from landfills, reusing kitchen trash presents an even more sustainable option. With a little imagination, you can find a purpose for many types of discarded items and give them an extended lifespan. From repurposing glass jars to upcycling food packaging, the possibilities are endless for creative reuse projects using kitchen waste.

Reusing kitchen trash is beneficial in several ways:

  • Reduces waste: Diverting usable materials from the waste stream decreases the resources needed for waste disposal and new products.
  • Saves money: Repurposing free materials is far less expensive than buying new ones. Reuse projects allow you to create useful household items on a budget.
  • Supports sustainability: Reusing instead of recycling or tossing materials decreases your environmental footprint. It conserves resources and energy used in manufacturing new goods.
  • Sparks creativity: Transforming trash into DIY treasures is highly rewarding. Reuse projects enable you to express your innovation and resourcefulness.

This guide will outline clever ways to reuse common kitchen scraps you might otherwise throw away. With a dash of creativity and a willingness to get your hands dirty, you can give packaging, containers, and food waste an exciting new purpose!

Reusing Glass Jars and Bottles

Glass jars and bottles rank among the most versatile kitchen waste items for DIY projects. Their durable, transparent material lends itself to an array of practical repurposing ideas. Here are some clever ways to transform used glass containers into handy products for your home:

Storage Containers

Clear glass jars make excellent reusable storage vessels for pantry staples like dried beans, pasta, rice, and baking ingredients. Thoroughly clean jars that previously held jellies, sauces, or condiments, remove their labels, and fill them with your choice of dry goods. Use jars of varying sizes to organize items and optimize space. For a unified look, paint the lids a single color.


Turn empty spaghetti sauce, olive oil, or wine bottles into rustic-chic vases. Remove any labels, wash thoroughly, and fill with fresh or faux flowers. For more decorative vases, spray paint or decoupage the outside of emptied glass bottles before inserting blooms. An artful flower arrangement disguises the bottle’s original contents.

Water Glasses

Quench your thirst with a set of repurposed jars turned drinking glasses. Smooth jelly jars and squat condiment jars work especially well. Make sure to remove all labels and wash thoroughly. Etching the glasses with designs adds further flair.

Garden Plant Pots

Upcycle large glass jars and bottles into plant pots for your garden. Clean each vessel, fill partly with potting soil, and add seeds or small plants. The transparent walls enable you to monitor soil moisture and root growth. You can also decorate the outside of the pots with mosaic tiles, sea glass, or other embellishments.

Candle Holders

For an instant mood booster, turn wide-mouthed jars and bottles into candle luminaries. Clean each vessel thoroughly and ensure it is stable. Place a flameless LED candle or standard candle inside, taking safety precautions if using an open flame. Arrange your upcycled candle holders on tables, windowsills, and shelves to infuse ambiance.

With an array of sizes and shapes available, secondhand glass vessels offer nearly limitless reuse possibilities. Give new purpose to your glass discards through creative projects that add function and style to your living space.

Repurposing Tin Cans

The humble tin can, found in most kitchens, provides an versatile foundation for DIY crafts and storage solutions. From food cans to coffee tins, these recyclable aluminum and steel containers can enjoy an extended, useful life through clever repurposing projects. Here are some innovative ways to reuse tin cans rather than sending them straight to the recycling bin:

Pencil Holders

Transform an empty tin can into a quirky holder for pens, pencils, paint brushes, and other slender items. Thoroughly clean and dry the can, then spray paint it with your color of choice, adding decorative elements as desired. Fill the can with your chosen implements, using smaller cans for thinner items like pens and larger cans for bigger supplies.


Grow mini indoor herb gardens by planting small pots inside repurposed coffee cans and food tins. Clean each can, punch holes in the bottom for drainage, and fill partway with potting mix. Plant herb seeds or seedlings, water adequately, and place the can planters on sunny windowsills. Larger cans also work nicely for flowering plants.


Bring order to clutter with tin can organizers. Affix magnets to the bottoms of cans, allowing them to cling to metal surfaces. Use covered coffee tins or soup cans to neatly corral items like paper clips, rubber bands, sewing supplies, and other desk or craft materials.

Pet Toys

Make a fun DIY cat or dog toy using an empty tin can, some spare fabric, and non-toxic paint (if desired). Place a few pebbles inside the can and seal both openings with sturdy fabric, leaving something sticking out that pets can grab. Decorate the exterior with pet-safe paint. Supervise pets when playing with the can toy.

Stovepipe Cookware Organizer

Mount an open tin can vertically on the wall to hold wooden spoons, spatulas, ladles, and other cooking implements. Attach the can to the wall with screws, drill multiple holes along the bottom edge for handle-hanging, and screw a salvaged spice rack inside the base (optional). Insert tools handles-down.

Repurposed tin cans have remarkable functionality and visual appeal. With minimal effort, you can upcycle food tins, coffee cans, and more into products that organize, store, and display everyday household items in eco-friendly style.

Giving Food and Drink Cartons New Life

Milk cartons, broth cartons, juice boxes, and other food and drink containers make up a sizable portion of household waste. But their cardboard-based construction also makes them prime candidates for innovative reuse projects. Here are some clever ways to repurpose these common kitchen castoffs:

DIY Mail Organizer

Transform an empty milk or broth carton into a handy desktop mail sorter. Cut one side off the rinsed carton at an angle to create an open basket shape. Decorate with scrapbook paper, washi tape, or other embellishments. Use to sort incoming mail and documents.

Whimsical Pencil Cups

Turn emptied small juice boxes and milk cartons into colorful cups for writing utensils. Thoroughly clean and dry each carton, then paint or decoupage the exterior with your design of choice. Fill with pencils, pens, scissors, paint brushes, and other stationery items.

Jewelry and Cosmetic Boxes

Sturdy, wipe-clean milk and broth cartons work excellently as jewelry or makeup boxes. Remove one side to access the interior. Use cartons of various sizes to organize different accessories. Line interiors with velvet or felt for a luxe look.

Emergency Kits

Decorate and fill rinsed cartons with essential emergency supplies like bandages, gauze, tape, antibacterial wipes, and other first-aid items. Keep these portable kits in your car, workplace first-aid station, tornado shelter, or other key locations.

Desktop Organizers

Corral small office supplies in repurposed cartons. Cut off tops and fronts, decorate exteriors with patterned paper or fabric, label sections, and fill compartments with paper clips, sticky notes, batteries, and other desk items. Arrange several cartons together for a complete desktop organizing system.

With some scissors and glue, you can craft practical storage solutions from used food and drink packaging that would otherwise fill your recycling bin. Give new purpose to these cardboard castoffs.

Turning Takeout Containers into DIY Treasures

Sturdy plastic takeout containers rank among the most common kitchen discards. But their durability and sealing lids make them ideal candidates for upcycling into handy household products. Here are some innovative ways to reuse plastic takeout containers:

Bathroom Storage

Plastic takeout tubs serve excellently as bathroom storage units. Use large round or rectangular containers to organize cotton balls, swabs, bath salts, soaps, cosmetics, and other toiletries. Small sauce cups work great for toothbrush and toothpaste storage.

Outdoor Pet Feeding Station

Create a feeding station for outdoor cats or small dogs using a large plastic takeout tub. Cut a hole in one long side just big enough for pets to reach inside. Attach a flip-top lid over the hole. Fill the tub with dry food and place it outside, flipped upside down when not in use.

First Aid Kits

Fill cleaned plastic takeout tubs with first-aid supplies to create portable medical kits. Use large containers for complete kits and smaller ones for mini versions to stash in your car, bag, or home.

Arts and Craft Supplies

Takeout tubs are perfect for sorting and storing craft items like beads, buttons, glitter, feathers, and stickers. Their transparent walls make contents visible, while their lids keep materials tidy inside.

Nail Polish Caddies

Store nail polish bottles upright and organized using repurposed clear plastic takeout containers. Fill each divided tub with cotton balls, polish remover, nail files, clippers, and an array of coordinating nail lacquers.

Plastic takeout containers offer versatile possibilities for practical DIY projects that reduce waste. With a quick scrub and a touch of creativity, you can give leftovers tubs and lids a helpful second life.

Imaginative Ways to Reuse Food and Yard Scraps

Kitchen food waste and yard scraps present eco-friendly opportunities for reuse through composting, upcycling, and repurposing. Here are some clever ways to transform vegetable peels, eggshells, grass clippings, fallen leaves, and other organic materials into useful products instead of throwing them away:

Compost Fertilizer

One of the best uses for food and yard waste is creating nutrient-rich compost to fertilize your garden and houseplants. Collect produce peelings, crushed eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, grass clippings, dried leaves, and shredded newspaper in a compost bin or pile. Let the mixture decompose, then work the finished compost into your soil.

Upcycled Plant Pots

Give used eggshells new purpose by transforming them into tiny pots for seedlings. Rinse shells thoroughly, fill with potting mix, and place a seed in each one. Once seedlings sprout, transfer the shell pots to a larger container or directly into garden soil.


Use grass clippings, shredded leaves, straw, and garden trimmings as mulch to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and enrich the soil around garden beds and trees. Spread organic mulch material several inches deep around plants.

Homemade Seed Paper

Blend discarded paper with grass clippings and flower petals in a blender with water. Spread pulp thinly onto a window screen to dry into fragrant, plantable seed paper that you can use for greeting cards, scrapbooking, and more.

Natural Cleaning Sponge

Bundle together dried out vegetable and fruit peels (citrus works well) with string or a rubber band. Use this biodegradable bundle as an eco-friendly cleaning sponge for washing dishes and surfaces. Compost the sponge after use.

With a little creativity, you can find green uses for vegetable trimmings, leaves, eggshells, and other kitchen and yard scraps. Composting and upcycling organic waste gives these materials renewed purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions About Reusing Kitchen Trash

Does it take a lot of time to reuse kitchen scraps?

Many kitchen reuse projects only require minimal time for prep work like cleaning containers and removing labels. Simple repurposing ideas like using jars for storage can be done immediately. While more complex upcycling projects may take longer, the hands-on creativity can be highly rewarding.

What types of materials can I reuse from the kitchen?

Many food packaging containers like glass jars, tin cans, cartons, and plastic tubs can be reused, along with their lids. Food and yard waste like vegetable peels, eggshells, and leaves make great compost. Durable kitchenware items like sieves and cutting boards can also be repurposed in creative ways.

Is reusing food containers safe and hygienic?

Thoroughly washing and disinfecting any food containers with hot, soapy water removes residual bacteria and ensures safety. Only reuse packaging that originally held non-toxic foodstuffs. Avoid reusing raw meat or fish containers. When unsure, opt for high-heat repurposing uses like candleholders.

Can kids help with kitchen reuse crafts?

Absolutely! Upcycling kitchen scraps provides a fun, hands-on way for kids to learn about creativity and sustainability. Gather safe, clean materials like cardboard tubes, jars, and yogurt tubs for young children to make DIY bird feeders, vases, organizers, and more with adult supervision.

Where can I find ideas and instructions for kitchen repurposing projects?

The internet offers a wealth of step-by-step instructions and inspiration for kitchen reuse crafts. Pinterest, DIY blogs, and environmental websites like Inhabitots share detailed tutorials for upcycling containers, food scraps, and more. Instagram hashtags like #wastenot and #upcycling also showcase creative reuse ideas.

Kitchen waste might seem destined for the trash, but with some imagination, you can repurpose scraps into functional and fun DIY projects. Reusing kitchen discards requires minimal effort, makes use of free materials, and reduces your environmental impact through decreased waste. Embrace your inner eco-innovator by giving cans, bottles, cartons, and food scraps exciting new life and purpose.


From crafting storage containers and organizers to making compost fertilizer and mulch, the possibilities for reusing kitchen trash are endless. We all can play a role in reducing waste by applying creativity to revitalize discarded items in our homes. As you seek to reuse kitchen scraps, think outside the recycling bin and let your imagination run wild. You will discover just how rewarding and beneficial DIY repurposing can be.

With some clever ideas and a bit of elbow grease, it is simple and satisfying to decrease your environmental footprint and get more life out of common kitchen discards. Follow the inspiration in this article to view trash as a treasure trove of crafting potential. And let resourcefulness and sustainability guide you in discovering ever more innovative ways to give new purpose to kitchen waste.