5 easy reuse projects to become a DIY master

By Alejandra Laclette 7 December 2020

Turn your trash into treasure with these quick and easy craft projects.

1. Turn an old coffee bag into a sparkly gift bag

Who would have thought an old coffee bag could look so good?! Because of their foil lining, used coffee bags can make great gift bags (some of the coffee bags that look like paper are good to go as is!). All you need to do is cut off the top and turn the bag inside out. If there is a little plastic tag on the bottom, cut it off with scissors. Then punch two holes at the top and weave in some string. Voilà!

Upcycled coffee bag into gift bag

2. Use empty spice jars to make a propagation station

These empty spice bottles make an adorable plant hanger or propagation station for cuttings. Peel the paper off the jars. To remove the glue, we used Orange Power Sticky Spot Goo Dissolver because it’s natural and works like a charm! Once the jars are clean, take a long piece of string or twine, wrap it around the top of the jar and secure it with a knot. About 20cm down the string, wrap it around the top of the next jar and so on. Hang the string up and fill the jars with water and cuttings. The cuttings in the jars pictured are from a Pothos plant, which are super easy to propagate in water.

Upcycled spice jars into propagation station

3. Make a planter from an empty carton

Empty out a long-life beverage or food carton by removing the plastic lid and pouring out the dregs. Flatten the top and cut it in half (check RecyclingNearYou to see if you can recycle the top half in your kerbside recycling). Peel off the outer plastic and throw it in the bin. Fold back the top (you may need to cut it a little bit at the top to help you) so that about 3cm of foil is showing. Chuck in your pot plant and it’s good to go!

Tetra Pak planter

4. Create a brand-new candle from leftovers

Take an old unusable candle and chop it up into small pieces. Put a few of the pieces into an old jar and submerge it partially in hot water (not too hot) to melt the wax. Make a wick by cutting up an old T-shirt into three super thin pieces and braiding them together. Dip the rope into the melted wax and hold it up with tongs so that it dries straight. Fill the jar in the pot of hot water with the remaining pieces of wax. Once melted, put the rope in the jar, using a pencil or stick to keep it in place. Wait for the wax to set before trimming the wick. The great thing about this candle is that when you get to the end, you can use the leftovers to make another one!

Zero-waste candle first steps
Zero-waste candle second steps

5. Make a pot plant holder from an old T-shirt and leftover yarn

Cut horizontally across an old shirt so that you have eight loops of fabric, each around 1.5cm thick. Cut them all at one end to turn them into long pieces of yarn. Tie two pieces together to make an extra-long strand of T-shirt yarn (we've used different colours in the photos). Repeat until you have four strands of extra-long pieces of yarn. Fold them in half so that the knots are at the top. Leaving a loop at the top, start wrapping your leftover yarn around your T-shirt yarn and secure with a knot. Repeat again with different colours. Repeat on the other end of the T-shirt yarn, making sure you leave some at the ends to create a tassel. Hang it up and add a plant!

Upcycled T-shirt plant hanger first steps
Upcycled T-shirt plant hanger second steps

Alejandra Laclette
After supervising the sustainability educational program at her corporate job in Mexico, Alejandra moved to Australia where she worked coordinating programs that improved consumer understanding of the environmental credentials of packaging and how to dispose of it. She currently manages the Australasian Recycling Label and National Recycling Week campaigns.