Did you know that per EPA reports, Americans throw away 267.8 million tons of waste each day? It breaks down to just over 4.5 pounds per person each day. Of that waste, about 10% is composted, some is burned for energy, and the rest sits in the landfill where it slowly breaks down. Reusing trash and old items is one of the best ways to help lower the amount of waste that’s filling up landfills across the nation. Most people never stop to think of the ways they can reuse unwanted items.

Turn Unwanted Bookcases Into a Custom-size Desk

You have two matching bookcases sitting up in your attic. They’re scratched up and have no use since the top of one broke when someone sat on it. You do need a smaller desk for your office. Have you thought about turning those two bookshelves into a desk?

  1. Turn the bookcases sideways and measure the width of the bookcase, which will be the depth of your desk
  2. Determine how wide you need the desktop to be to properly fit your space
  3. Cut a piece of plywood so that it’s long enough to rest fully on the center shelf of each bookcase
  4. Sand everything to remove rough edges and surfaces
  5. Use a wood screw to secure the plywood desktop to the bookcases
  6. Add a preformed table leg in the back center of the desktop for additional support
  7. Paint or stain the remaining unit and the shelves you removed earlier
  8. Use the extra shelves for office storage.

You can turn old furniture into other items you need. If you have an old storage locker and have been shopping for a coffee table, make one. Take the storage locker and paint it in a color that matches your d├ęcor. Add felt pads on the bottom corners to prevent scratches. Tile the top with waterproof ceramic or vinyl tires. You now have a coffee table that has storage for your lap quilts and throws.

Flower Gardens From Old Tires

Bald tires are not safe to drive on. You have no choice but to recycle them, but they’re not always easy to recycle. When possible, your mechanic should offer to dispose of them for you. It may cost a few dollars per tire, but it’s worthwhile to keep them out of the landfill. If you change your own tires, it may be harder to dispose of your tires. Recycle Nation can help you find the nearest drop-off recycling center. What if there’s nothing close by?

  1. Turn old tires into patio furnishings. One project to consider is a raised flower bed.
  2. Paint old tires in complementary colors.
  3. Stack them on top of each other using liquid cement.
  4. Allow them to dry and then fill them with garden soil.
  5. Let sit overnight and add more soil if it’s packed down any.
  6. Add flowers.

You have a raised flower bed that’s easy to maintain and adds color to your patio area. As tires can leach some harmful materials from the rubber, do not use these planters for anything you’ll be eating.

You can also make patio footrest with them by following these steps:

  1. Paint a couple of tires with a bold, waterproof spray paint.
  2. Use liquid cement to secure them in a stack.
  3. Measure the diameter of the top tire.
  4. Cut a piece of twine so that it’s half of the diameter of the tire.
  5. Place a finishing nail into a sheet of plywood and tie the end of the twine to it.
  6. Use that to draw a circle.
  7. Check the measurements to make sure it’s almost the same diameter as the tires.
  8. Cut the circle out of the wood and paint it in a color that complements or matches the tire stack.
  9. Cut a piece of memory foam to match the diameter of the wooden circle.
  10. Glue that to the top of the circle.
  11. Cover that with a waterproof tarp or water-resistant canvas that’s a few inches larger than the wooden circle.
  12. Flip the wood over so that the memory foam is on top of the tarp or canvas.
  13. Use fabric tacks to secure the tarp or canvas over the memory foam to the bottom of the circle.

Once it’s done, place that on top of the tire stack and you have a footrest.

Used Pallet Tables

If you have a wood pellet stove for supplemental heating, the wood pellets usually arrive on a pallet. These pallets can be chemically treated to prevent wood and insect damage, so they should not be burned in an outdoor fire pit or campfire. There are ways you can reuse them, however.

If the pallet isn’t pressure treated, sand it down to remove rough edges. Put a coat of varnish or stain over it and add some stubby wooden legs that you’ve purchased at a home improvement store. They usually cost less than $5 per leg. Top the piece with a sheet of thick glass or plywood and you have a square coffee table that everyone can reach from their seat on a large sectional sofa. If you want a dining room table, simply purchase longer legs. Most stores have legs ranging from 6 to 30 inches. You could use glass beads or tile to create a mosaic pattern on top of the plywood for an eye-catching design.

Make these tables and sell them for some spare cash. If the price is right and you’ve put time and care into your design, people are more than willing to spend money on a quality table. You prevent that skid from going into the landfill and create a tangible good that will last a long time.

Glass Mason Jars for Window Sill Gardens and Storage

You’ve collected too many mason jars and can’t find anyone who wants them. Your trash hauler doesn’t accept mason jars for recycling. What do you do with them?

Layer an inch of pebbles into each jar. Add some potting soil and your favorite herb seeds. Grow herbs on your window sill. You’ll have year-round herbs for cooking.

Do you have wooden shelves in your garage? Nail a mason jar lid to the bottom of the wooden shelves. Place your miscellaneous nails, screws, and other smaller hardware items into jars and screw them onto the lids. It’s a space-saving technique that makes organization easy without filling up space. You can also do this with baby food jars.

Sometimes, a little creativity is all that’s needed to figure out ways to give old furnishings and items new life. If you don’t need them, someone else might. You could sell your upcycled items at flea markets, garage sales, or online. It’s a profitable and handy way to prevent older items from the landfill. If you don’t want to take time selling these items, you could donate them to used furniture stores and charitable organizations.

In addition to upcycling as many of your unused items as you can, you need to make sure you’re recycling properly. If you are not sure where to recycle household items and materials you no longer need, let Recycle Nation help. Our handy guide makes it easy to search for specific items with your zip code. Within seconds, you’ll know where the nearest drop-off center is.