6 Ingenious Green Reuse Ideas

From on September 01, 2009 in Green Remodeling

If there’s one thing I love, it’s finding a new way to use something old or broken. While I’m pretty clever about this, it always amazes me how many items other people reuse in ways I never, ever would have imagined. We’ve combed the web for some truly ingenious trash-to-treasure conversions. green reuse garden items

Smart Plant Stands

Wondering what to do with that old rickety wooden ladder? Use it for potted plants! Apply a bold coat of paint to complement your landscaping or home decor, depending on whether you want to place it indoors or out. If you’ve got a metal ladder outside, treat it with an anti-rust agent first, but then again, the corroded appearance may have a more natural, appealing look. At any rate, you can line the steps with pots, let vines entwine themselves or hang plant baskets from the rungs. Simply beautiful.

reuse bathtub garden planter

Bathtubs & Wheelbarrows

I’ve also seen other out-of-use items serve as unique plant stands or garden beds. Old antique bathtubs and rusty, holey wheelbarrows can bring character to your yard – and best of all, both provide their own natural drainage.

Shoe Potted Plants

Or do you want to get really inventive? A friend of mine who lost her husband just couldn’t bear to part with his old shoes. After poking holes in the soles, she filled the shoes with dirt and planted small succulents in them. To give her a daily reminder of the love of her life, she placed the shoe potted plants on her deck stairs as if they were ascending to the house. Heartbreaking, I know, but endearing nonetheless.

Kitchen Wallpaper Backsplash

reuse wallpaper oven backsplashWhen I was a kid, each room in our house was lined with different wallpaper. It was the thing to do. And when wallpaper faded, tired or just got on our nerves, we stripped it off and put up a new pattern. Today, wallpaper has migrated over to other household surfaces to dress them up. And I think we can all admit – somewhere in the deep recesses of our homes, we have a couple rolls collecting dust.

Instead of spending the money to make a tile backsplash for your stove, wallpaper that one section and install a piece of tempered glass over it for easy maintenance. The glass is easy to clean, but the paper underneath will give it depth and character.

Creative Shelving Solutions

Wallpaper also makes great shelf lining for cabinets and bookcases that need a bit of brightening, and even covers for textbooks or your favorite bathtub reads. In a pinch, it can make some really classy, durable gift wrap, too.


If you recycle household glass, that’s fantastic, but have you considered reusing it yourself? After thoroughly washing out glass containers, like vinegar, wine and beer bottles and salsa jars, you can use them for bud vases, kitchen utensil holders, pencils, paintbrushes or for mixing homemade vinaigrettes. They also make great decorative items when filled with colorful sand, beans or infused oil.