7 Smart and Useful Ways to Reuse Plastic Containers

published Jul 30, 2022
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Credit: Sarah Crowley

As a family of seven, we generate a bunch of trash (and even more recycling!). That’s why I designed my new kitchen cabinets to include two pull-out trash cans. Even so, before anything hits the bin, my very favorite thing to do with kitchen recyclables is to reuse something I was going to otherwise toss.

One kitchen “trash” item with multiple uses is the versatile plastic container. You know the ones — cups of yogurt, tubs of sauces, and stacks of takeout deli containers from your favorite local restaurant. They’re oh-so-convenient to pull out whenever you need them. In fact, they’re one of the few items I’m OK with collecting even without a specific use. To jumpstart your creativity, I’ve got seven smart ways to repurpose those endless plastic containers. Take a look!

Credit: Sarah Crowley

1. Reuse wet wipes containers to store plastic bags.

Got a disinfecting wipe container or a few on hand? Me too. Next time your wipes run out, rather than throwing the container in recycling, use it to store your plastic grocery bags. Then stash these filled containers wherever you may need plastic bags, such as under the kitchen sink, in your cleaning supply area, in bathrooms, and even in the car. Once it becomes part of your life, mobile plastic bag storage will prove to be more useful than you think!

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Send leftovers home with guests.

Large plastic yogurt containers are the best. They’re an ideal size, they have reusable lids, and you can easily label them with their contents. My favorite way to use these containers is to fill them up with leftovers when we have guests so I can easily send food home. This way no one has to worry about returning food storage containers.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

3. Create a windowsill garden.

If you love plants, you know how handy small plastic containers can be to get your greenery going. Whether you’re germinating seeds or propagating baby plants, empty yogurt containers or individual Pringles containers are the perfect size. You can also easily poke holes in the bottom for drainage. Plus, when it’s time to re-pot, you can cut away the plastic if it’s too hard to remove the plant. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Organize drawers.

Whether you keep them in a junk drawer or desk drawers, little items like thumbtacks, paper clips, rubber bands, and refill staples need to be contained. Small plastic containers, such as plastic yogurt containers or fruit cups, are perfect for this. Keeping them uniform makes the space look even more orderly. 

Credit: the kitchn

5. Mix together cleaning pastes.

How many times have you needed to make a baking soda and water paste, or wanted to mix up a small solution of powdered Tide and water? A big bucket is fine for mopping or other larger cleaning jobs, but a small container is much easier to transport for those more detailed cleaning tasks. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

6. Keep sandwiches from getting squished.

When packing sandwiches for road trips or pool days, storing them in plastic bags alone means they’re likely to get squished. Plastic berry containers or those used for bulk spinach or lettuce are an ideal extra level of protection. The best part is how lightweight they are; they’ll hardly add any weight or bulk to your cooler bag. 

Credit: Jamie Grill Photography/Getty Images

7. Hold touch-up paint.

The worst part of doing paint touchups around the house is the setup. But doing these small touchups makes such a big difference in the look of your space. Instead of having to lug around a whole can, put some paint in a small plastic container. It’ll be easy to hold and carry around the room, and you’ll be able to cross that to-do off your list in no time. (Bonus: If you have to pause your project, cover the plastic container of paint with a tight layer of plastic wrap; it’ll still be fresh when you resume.)

Did we miss something? How do you use upcycled plastic containers around the house? Tell us your clever ideas in the comments below.