Work & Career

5 Upcycling Ideas to Transform Unwanted Office Supplies & Help You Go Zero Waste

5 Upcycling Ideas to Transform Unwanted Office Supplies & Help You Go Zero Waste
Samantha Donaldson

When a business shuts down, redecorates, or even downsizes, it can often be left with a myriad of old office supplies that nobody wants to buy. These office leftovers are are often loaded up and sent straight to the dump. However, this process can lead to countless useful materials being thrown away, adding to the landfill overflow and pollution that plagues our world today.

Despite this seemingly hopeless situation, there are actually plenty of ways for your office to transform these used items into fun and exciting decorations and green alternatives — meaning less money is spent on redecorating the office and less items are sent to rot away at a landfill as well.

Build new planters from old office supplies

Below are five ways you can take those old supplies and turn them into fun green items without breaking the bank in the process.

1. Build a planter.

Although you may not realize it, there are actually multiple different office items which can be turned into cute planters for the spring and summer seasons. For instance, if your company chooses to get rid of some old computers, you can actually create a pretty awesome and adorable computer planter with them. In fact, if you’re careful about how you do it, you can keep the computer in working condition, even with the plants growing inside.

Computer Planter DIY Total Geekdom

Credit: Total Geekdom

Similarly, if your company chooses to get rid of old lockers, you can plant all kinds of flowers and various other plants inside the locker. Although you may be afraid that the locker will rust and harm the plants, it is actually fairly safe for these plants, and is a great way to incorporate fresh airflow in the office space.

Related Post: A Real Life Upcycle Project

2. Make a coffee ground compost bin.

As I discussed in my previous article on vermicomposting, a compost bin is a great way to transform old food throughout the office into rich compost which can then be used either in your own planter or in various gardens throughout your community.

Related Post: Composting at Work: A Clever Solution to the Food Waste Epidemic

By adding coffee grounds to your compost bin, you are not only removing the grounds as well as the bag they came in from landfills in your community, but are also enriching your compost bin even further. In fact, coffee grounds are often used as fertilizer, and they can even ward off harmful bugs such as slugs, snails, and ladybugs from your plants.

Make a coffee ground compost bin

3. Create some art.

When you walk into a World Market or a Michael’s you may begin to realize that a lot of the decorations and art they have is actually pretty easy to recreate yourself. In fact, there are plenty of different ways to turn old office supplies into art decorations and steer clear of those absurd prices for the same things you already have, only painted or styled differently. For instance, we’ve all probably seen those awesome crayon projects where you heat crayons at the top of a canvas and let their vibrant colors melt to the bottom, creating really fun pieces of canvas art — but you can also take crayons and other writing utensils to create all kinds of things, like crayon candles, pencil holders made of pencils, and ink splatter art using old pens.

Make art pieces from left over office supplies

Similarly, you can also take old paper clips and create awesome art pieces out of them, ensuring that metal is not sitting in landfills for no reason, and that you are making art that is just as unique and fun as your office is. Although you might not be as good as this guy when starting off, you can definitely find fun ways to turn those little metal clips into some exciting pieces of art in no time.

4. Make a cute blackboard.

Although paper waste remains a huge issue, it can sometimes be hard to crack the habit of useless paper distribution in your company, especially during meetings and important company updates. However, a blackboard can serve as a great way to get the message across without having to create individual papers with said information each time a meeting is necessary.

Creating a homemade blackboard is fairly simple and cheap. Simply take old mirrors from the office that you normally would throw away and head over to the local craft store to pick up some blackboard paint and chalk. As a company, you can paint over these mirrors a few times, let them dry, and begin using these fun and easy chalkboards immediately and increase employee engagement in the process likewise.

5 Upcycling Ideas to Transform Unwanted Office Supplies & Help You Go Zero Waste

5. Refurbish old chairs and tables.

The most common items removed and replaced by offices are tables and chairs. However, these items are often made of plastic and other elements that take a very long time to degrade when sent to landfills. Therefore, by refurbishing them and turning them into fun and hip alternatives, you can add vibrance to your break rooms and lounges in your office while ensuring that you are staying green and recycling old items.

Related Post: 7 Pallet & Reclaimed Wood Furniture Projects to Try at Home

There are many ways to refurbish chairs and tables but sometimes a simple vibrant paint color or pattern is a perfect way to stand out without much work in the process. You can also add a new fabric and reupholster your seats with bright patterns and colors as well to add a little spark to them too. Lastly, you can actually take some of that chalkboard paint from the mirrors and cover the tops of old desks as well to create fun brainstorming tables, which can be great for collaborative thinking.

Refurbish old chairs and tables.

In the end, there are endless possibilities for old office supplies and furniture but, hopefully, these ideas will get you and your company thinking of greener zero-waste ways to deal with unwanted office items.

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About the author

Samantha Donaldson

Samantha Donaldson

Samantha Donaldson is a freelance journalist in Boise, Idaho as well as the owner of Idaho’s largest music magazine, Boise Pulse Music, and the founder of Boise Food Salvage, an organization dedicated to taking food waste and turning it into amazing meals for homeless shelters.

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