February 21, 2024

In an era where resourcefulness is key to preparedness, it’s essential to think creatively about the items we often consider disposable. For preppers and those looking to maximize the utility of what they already have, this list of 25 upcycling ideas will not only reduce waste but also enhance your readiness and self-sufficiency. Let’s dive into these clever tricks to turn everyday items into valuable assets.

1. From Worn T-shirts to Essential Cleaning Tools

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Don’t let those old t-shirts gather dust. Transform them into indispensable cleaning rags. Soft, absorbent, and robust, these DIY rags are perfect for maintaining cleanliness and order in your safe haven.

2. Glass Jars: Multipurpose Storage Solutions

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After finishing that jar of pasta sauce, give it a new purpose. These sturdy jars can store anything from food leftovers to small essentials like buttons or screws, helping you stay organized and prepared.

3. Garden Planters from Old Footwear

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Old boots or shoes can be quirky, resourceful planters for your survival garden. Filled with soil, they’re ideal for growing herbs and flowers, adding a personal touch to your self-sustaining garden.

4. Egg Cartons as Seed Starting Aids

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Start your survival garden efficiently using cardboard egg cartons as seed starters. Once the seedlings sprout, plant them directly into your garden bed, ensuring a constant supply of home-grown produce.

5. Repurpose Old Towels into Bath Mats

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Transform well-used towels into comfortable bath mats. This simple upcycling can provide a touch of comfort and functionality to your living space.

6. Wine Cork Bulletin Boards for Organizing Information

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Create a bulletin board from wine corks, a frame, and a hot glue gun. It’s perfect for keeping important notes and reminders in a highly visible and organized manner.

7. Old Books as Creative Shelves

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Turn old books into floating shelves, a stylish and innovative way to store and display items in your command center or study area.

8. Ladders as Versatile Shelving Units

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Repurpose an old ladder as a bookshelf or storage space for blankets and other essentials. This not only saves money but also adds a rustic charm to your space.

9. Mason Jars into Chic Soap Dispensers

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Convert mason jars into stylish soap dispensers. It’s a practical and attractive way to repurpose jars, reducing waste and enhancing functionality in your home. All you need is a mason jar soap dispenser lid.

10. CD Racks for Efficient Bag Storage

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Old CD racks can be upcycled into neat storage for bags, clutches, and small backpacks. This organization hack can be a real space-saver in your preparedness storage, keeping items easily accessible and in good condition.

11. Suitcases Reimagined as Pet Beds

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An old suitcase can be a comfortable and unique bed for your pets. Just add a soft pillow, and you’ve got a cozy spot for your furry companion, ensuring they’re as prepared as you are.

12. Picture Frames as Elegant Serving Trays

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Convert old picture frames into serving trays. This upcycling idea adds a touch of elegance to your gatherings, whether it’s for a strategic meeting or a comforting meal.

13. Curtains from Old Sheets

Image Credit: RyanKing999 via Canva. Transform old sheets into light, airy curtains. This DIY project allows you to customize your living space while being resourceful and prepared for any situation.

14. Shower Curtain Rings for Scarf and Tool Storage

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Shower curtain rings are excellent for organizing scarves or small tools. Attach them to a hanger for an organized, easy-to-access storage solution.

15. Wine Bottles as Candle Holders

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Empty wine bottles can become sophisticated candle holders, perfect for creating a calm ambiance during power outages or quiet evenings.

16. Old Jeans into Durable Aprons

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Convert worn-out jeans into tough aprons, ideal for gardening or cooking. Denim is durable and can withstand rigorous use, making it perfect for various preparedness activities.

17. Magazine Coasters for a Splash of Color

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Upcycle old magazines into unique coasters. This fun project is great for adding a personal touch to your living space and engaging kids in a creative, resourceful activity.

18. Colanders as Industrial-Style Lampshades

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Repurpose a metal colander into a lampshade for an industrial look. The holes create a distinctive light pattern, adding character to your space.

19. Bread Clips for Cord Organization

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Use bread clips to label cords, keeping your electronics and appliances neatly organized and easily identifiable, a small but crucial step in maintaining order.

20. Greeting Cards Turned into Bookmarks

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Old greeting cards can be cut into bookmarks. They’re not only functional but also add a personal and nostalgic touch to your reading materials.

21. Newspapers for Streak-Free Window Cleaning

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Utilize newspapers for cleaning windows. This old-school trick ensures a streak-free shine, a simple yet effective way to maintain clarity and visibility in your home.

22. Lip Balm Containers for Compact Storage

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Transform empty lip balm containers into mini storage units for small essentials like pins or pills. This is an excellent way to keep tiny, easily misplaced items organized, especially in a bug-out bag or emergency kit.

23. Teacup Pin Cushions and Storage

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Old teacups can be filled with stuffing to create charming pin cushions or used to store small sewing supplies. This idea adds a vintage flair to your craft area and helps keep your sewing essentials organized.

24. Calendars as Unique Wrapping Paper

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Repurpose old calendars as wrapping paper for gifts. This creative and eco-friendly approach gives your presents a unique and artistic presentation, perfect for special occasions or as part of a bartering system.


Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what’s coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being “ready”, she’s ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she’s feeding her family, she’s a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She’s been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.