I’ve got a family member who loves to ship us meat for a holiday gift. We enjoy it… but we always end up with a Styrofoam shipping box in the basement. Like most places, we can’t recycle them with our pick-up service, and given their environmental impact, I just hate to throw them away.
You may get similar gifts, or have medications delivered in polystyrene foam containers. You may have picked up a Styrofoam cooler at some point. We’re not here to judge… we just hope that you, too, won’t succumb to the temptation to toss that container.
I spent some time this morning poking around on Pinterest for ways to upcycle Styrofoam containers. I didn’t find a lot of different kinds of projects, but I did find all sorts of interesting variations on certain themes. Take a look at what I’ve pulled together here, and then let us know: how you reuse or upcycle those foam containers?
How To Upcycle Styrofoam Boxes and Coolers: 7 Projects (with Variations)
Styrofoam shipping containers are almost exactly the same size as your typical ottoman, so why not make one of your own. It can be as simple as adding some fabric with pins and glue… but rollers and legs are also possibilities. And keep in mind that these make stylish spaces for storage, also.
The Hydroponic Garden
Now, this is very cool! Martha Stewart shares this plan on the Home Depot’s Garden Club blog for making a no-frills soil-free garden. Just make sure to line that cooler: you don’t want that polystyrene foam leaching into plants you might eat.
The Stray Cat Shelter
Cats get out… if you’ve ever had one, you know this. Fortunately, they don’t go far, so this plan for a warm, protected shelter can help keep them safe, and help you find them. Adding a plastic bin makes for a more sturdy structure.
The $8 Air Conditioner
OK, this probably isn’t going to cool your whole house, but for a little more comfort in one room, or in a tent while camping, etc., this should do the trick. (via American Overlook)
The Patio Drink Cooler
Want something that looks just a bit nicer than that Styrofoam cooler when friends come over for a barbecue? You can build a box to surround it: just decide if you want to buy the lumber, or use pallet wood.
The Vermicomposting Bin
Styrofoam coolers are also the perfect size for an indoor worm composting set-up. Again, I suggest lining them with plastic to prevent leaching…
The Planter Box
Like other containers, foam boxes make great planters. It’s just a matter of how you want them to look. You can create a faux stone look, cover it in fabric, or paint it.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Michael de Filippi says
We find these coolers broken in a million pieces all over our beaches. I wish people would just buy normal reusable ones instead of this single use throw a way lifestyle.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg says
As do I, Michael…
Mike Spear says
Yes Michael, purchasing a reusable cooler is environmentally the better thing to do. But people can’t control how some food companies package and ship perishables to them. Many such companies use styrofoam so the receiver gets stuck with extra styrofoam coolers they might not be able to use (we have now 12 of them), taking up space, and might not be able to throw away if their refuse disposal company won’t haul off significant styrofoam. Delivery services to home are on the rise so more styrofoam is being generated. Until such time that more eco-friendly alternatives to styrofoam are used by shippers of perishables, the problem with unwanted, problematic styrofoam ice chests in people’s homes may continue and/or re-appear in the environment if better disposal and recycling alternatives are not generated.
Brenda Murdock says
I get insulin every month shipped in a styrofoam container. I am looking at a way to reuse them.
Now, if someone could just come up with some good up-cycling ideas for polystyrene take-out food containers….
I don’t buy styrofoam coolers, however, I do receive life saving medicine every week that is packed in ice and a small styrofoam cooler. I’m just trying to find a way to reduce the impact of those styrofoam coolers.
@Alice – You get a pass, my friend. This treehugger appreciates your good attitude, and hopes you continue to do well in life. 😀
Amy Hilans says
You can donate styrofoam coolers on BoxGiver.com