How to Upcycle Plastic When Going Zero Waste

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The transition to going zero waste is just that — a transition. The perfectionist mindset of wanting to purge all your plastic and immediately switch over to sustainable goods will only lead to sending a lot of items to the landfill unnecessarily.

So what can you do with all of those plastic items cluttering up your home as you begin your low/zero-waste journey?

Here are some ideas that can not only apply to plastic but other single-use products that you can give a second life or find creative ways to keep out of landfills:


  • Donate your items to Goodwill, shelters, churches, or volunteer efforts. If you have things like giant plastic organization bins or other plastic containers, donate them to organizations that could use them. Donating items is a simple charitable effort that not only helps an organization, it also cuts down on waste by giving the products you’ve already bought a second life.


  • Use plastic containers until they wear out. Think about the transition to a zero waste lifestyle as one that is gradual and happens over time. Like minimalism, zero waste begins with cutting down on what you buy so that you only buy quality, eco-friendly items that last, and slowly recycling/upcycling the items you have, and donating what you don’t need. Try and use everything you own for the extent of its lifecycle before switching over to more zero waste-friendly items.


  • Find more creative ways to “upcycle” your plastic. Use sandwich containers to hold and organize office supplies. Do you have more plastic grocery bags than you know what to do with? Stuff a duvet cover with plastic bags instead of buying a dog bed, or use the plastic bags you have to help mail fragile items safely instead of buying plastic wrap.


There’s an inherent challenge to going zero waste that’s fun: How can you move beyond convenience and give everything you own a second life and second purpose? How can you simplify your life by getting the most out of single-use plastic items? How can you make every item’s journey circular, instead of going straight from single-use to the landfill?


Happy upcycling!

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