reduce, reuse, upcycle

I don’t know where it came from or how it grew, but I have this inner irk that cannot stand to watch things get wasted that could somehow be re-used. Paper might be my biggest nemesis, followed in a close second by plastic water bottles and shopping bags.

Every time I see excessive printouts at work I cringe. I make the boys save all flyers from school for us to print on the back of. I frequently get weird looks when I mention the book I’m reading came from the library, and I have a really hard time with magazine subscriptions.

I used to keep plastic containers and cardboard boxes from food for months, then bring it all out and let the boys build things with masking tape. It makes me a little sad they’ve grown out of that, although I do try to get the fort momentum going every now and then.

My solution when we moved was to use boxes found on the sidewalk. Most businesses break down the cardboard used in shipping, conveniently pack them all within a larger box, and set them on the curb for pick-up. Really, it was a win-win-win. We got free boxes for moving, the cardboard had an additional second life, and Tyler got to carry a giant box filled with boxes on a 15 minute walk back to our apartment.

But as I unpacked our Japanese-labeled boxes, I felt that crazy irk they were still being somewhat wasted once they went to the recycling bin. Add to that the giant boxes our Ikea couch came in.

I have used cardboard boxes for side tables, nightstands, and all sorts of shelving dividers and organizers. (The fruit boxes from Costco are the perfect size for under-the-bed drawers.) And so I had an idea. We needed a small desk for the corner of our living room, and we happened to have a lot of cardboard lying around. Cardboard desk build, commence!

After a few plans and measurements (and an unsuccessful trip to Costco for more boxes) I actually decided on something less cardboard-y, but more efficient for us. We had a bunch of plastic containers but no closets big enough to store them, so they became the desk legs. Double bonus because now we don’t have to throw them away, and we can store things in them if needed.


cardboard desk upcycle

We glued the cardboard in layers with Gorilla Glue for added strength. I’m searching ways to get off the white bin logos, and a good idea for covering the cardboard because Tyler’s sensitive skin can’t handle the feeling (must be a redhead thing).

So it’s not quite finished yet, but don’t you worry, a Kickstarter is in the works.

(update: here’s the finished decorated top)


4 thoughts on “reduce, reuse, upcycle

  1. yes! To all of this! My two favorite parenting tips are as follows:

    1. Books on cd (from the library of course).
    2. Use garbage for toys. We can build some wicked towers with cleaned out Fage yogurt containers.

  2. I was going to suggest spray painting the storage tubs; you mentioned you were searching ways to remove the label. (I just found your website and saw this idea on Martha Stewart’s website.

    1. That’s actually a much easier way than trying to remove the labels. Thanks for the thoughts, I’ll have to look around on the Martha Stewart website a bit…

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