50 Ways to Upcycle

According to Paul Simon, there must be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (although I’ve only ever been able to find four in the lyrics of his song, how about you?)

It wasn’t that long ago that  an idea for upcycling a common household item was revolutionary! (or at least Facebook-worthy) Now, I’m happy to say, ideas for giving a second or third life to something are fairly commonplace and the subject of countless blogs and books. But, I’m curious: do you think we could come up with 50 ways to upcycle one object?

I’ll start. And I’ll do better than Paul Simon by sharing five ways, instead of his measly four. Let’s try upcycling the average tissue box.


1. Corral your plastic grocery bags. I have a tissue box affixed to the inside of my bathroom cabinet and stuffed with grocery bags for lining the bathroom trash can or any of the other dozen dirty jobs that happen in the bathroom.

2. Store rags. I have several tissue boxes stuffed with rags – scraps too small to be really useful, so we use them for craft projects with paint or Mod Podge, or household chores that are so gross you wouldn’t want to keep whatever you used to clean it (like wiping up mystery spills in the refrigerator).

3. Store old socks. I keep a tissue box in my laundry area, stuffed with old socks – ones that have lost their mate or that our boys have outgrown – and use these for umpteen different things throughout the year. I put them on my hands for dusting. I tuck breakables inside them when I’m donating them or sending them to the attic. I’m ready to make sock puppets at a moment’s notice … need I say more?

4. Create a mini-recycling station. Slowly, but surely, we’re getting more detailed in the kinds of recycling we do, like joining the Terracycle program, which allows you to mail in specific recyclables. Now we collect and recycle all of our cheese packaging, even the wrappers for each individual slice. I found an empty tissue box to be the perfect receptacle for these flimsy things.

5. Use as a trash can in your car. Gum wrappers, straw papers, used tissues – it’s amazing how many little things can make a car look messy. I keep an empty tissue box in the car for these bothersome bits. Its opening is flexible enough to be easy to use, but protective enough that things don’t fall out.

Now it’s your turn: what are some of the ways you reuse an empty tissue box?


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