Paint can projects.

We all know (and live by) the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” I certainly do my best to implement it into my life as much as possible. But the reuse imperative sometimes gives me a little trouble, even though I know full well that reusing trumps recycling in its positive impact on the environment: there are fewer consumer goods produced, which reduces pollution and the depletion of fossil fuels and other natural resources.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about creative ways I can repurpose waste that might also prove to be useful around my home so it doesn’t end up in the recycling bin or the landfill. We have been doing some painting as of late, and have many leftover latex paint cans to deal with. This presented me with a great opportunity to reuse! Rather than dumping them into recycling, I thought I’d come up with ideas for reusing these metal paint cans instead. That is, after allowing the remaining paint to dry out and disposing of it properly first.

Paint can (or any can!) repurpose ideas:

  1. Paint them up and use them as garden planters for inside or outside your home. Remember to add some drainage holes first.
  2. A grouping of paint cans in varying sizes and/or tin cans filled with flowers makes a great shabby chic centerpiece.
  3. Use them as organizers. I use various reused metal cans to store my paint brushes, pencils, rulers, markers and other tools in my craft studio/office.
  4. Use them as containers when making homemade candles. Smaller sized cans do work best here.
  5. Need someplace to store your mail? Use one can for “in” and another can for “out” and keep clutter to a minimum.
  6. How about as an ice bucket? I saw a ceramic paint can at an upscale retailer some time ago.  Why buy, when you can reuse though? Chill your wine or beer in painted paint can at your next party and show-off your eco-savviness.
  7. By the same token, use them as snack baskets. Do make sure to clean them out good and to reuse wax paper or a towel as a liner.
  8. On the party theme, use them to hold party favors instead of bags or boxes you have to purchase.  
  9. Use them as an alternative to store-bought gift wrap and as Easter basket alternatives.
  10. For those with younger children, they could be a great solution for small toy storage. All those legos and blocks can now have a tidy home.
  11. Use them as candle holder, lanterns or even get real crafty and make a chandelier or lamp with them!
  12. Change your perspective–lay them on their side to solve storage problems. Mount them to bookcases or the wall to store just about anything: magazines, towels, toilet paper, large spools of ribbon or Bakers’ twine, sewing notions, crayons and more.
  13. Finally, get creative. Use the lids to create art for your walls. Use them instead of scrapbooks and make a keepsake can. Fill them with sand and pebbles you collect on your walks. The only limit is your own imagination.

image: David Salafia