By Jennifer Tuohy
I am something of a recycling hoarder. I have a big yellow bin next to my recycling receptacle for putting “choice” items—recyclables that are just too nice to throw away, such as glass bottles, jars and good quality plastic containers. Every now and then, I sort through the yellow bin and find new uses for as many items as possible, before being forced by spousal disapproval to ditch the rest.
Far and away, the best use I find for many of them is as aids in my eternal quest to organize my home. Jam jars, pasta sauce pots and toiletry bottles can all be easily re-purposed simply by cleaning them and putting them to good use. I have a row of Bonne Maman jam jars on my vanity table holding cotton balls and makeup brushes. My hall cupboard has two jars labeled “Spare Change” and “Small Stuff,” for my husband to empty his pockets into when he walks in the door (thereby saving me having to dig them out of the washing machine).
Glass jars, whatever shape and size, are very useful. However, I have always struggled to find a good use for old lotion bottles (the kind with sturdy plastic and a pump top).
I don’t know about your household, but this picture is a common, terror-inducing sight around my home: a $600 iPhone balancing precariously on a table (or worse, sitting in the floor!) in pursuit of a fully charged battery.
That’s a cracked screen just waiting to happen, especially in a house with two kids, two dogs and a lot of activity. After a good rummage through the yellow bin, I found the perfect plastic bottle to upcycle into a smartphone charging station. I have an iPhone 6 Plus, so it was a bit of a challenge finding one big enough. I ended up (after some trial and error) with a Tom’s of Maine children’s mouthwash bottle, but if you have a regular sized phone, pretty much any plastic bottle with a flat back will work (just make sure to measure the width of your phone against the bottle first).
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I made a charging cradle from a plastic bottle:
STEP 1: Clean the bottle and remove any labels.
STEP 2: Using sturdy scissors, cut off the top of the bottle (a bit of sandpaper will help smooth any rough edges).
STEP 3: Cut around the bottle about two-thirds of the way up, leaving a handle at the back.
STEP 4: Cut a square hole in the “handle” that your plug will fit snugly through.
STEP 5: Use your cradle, or spruce it up with a can of spray paint and/or some stencils and acrylic paint.
STEP 6: Pop the plug and cradle in the wall and connect your phone. There you have it—a safe and secure way to charge your smartphone.
This little phone storage hack has turned out to be a key ally in my quest for organizational nirvana. I’ve actually made three of them—one for the kitchen, living room and bathroom— places where I want to have access to my phone, but that I view as “danger zones” for a fragile phone. Plus, with an iPhone that’s plugged in, you can activate Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, hands-free by just saying, “Hey Siri.” When my hands are covered in flour and I need to know how many cups are in a recipe, or if I’m stepping out of the shower dripping wet and need to respond to an urgent text message, I can just ask Siri to do it for me. Another successful and easy upcycle project!
Do you have any great organizational and storage uses for recyclables? I’d love to hear about them!
Jennifer Tuohy is an innovative upcycler and tech gadget aficionado who lives in Charleston, S.C. Jennifer writes about her DIY projects for The Home Depot. Her recycled-plastic-bottle-into-cell-phone-holder is one of many storage solutions she’s created of late. For a wide selection of Home Depot home storage ideas, you can visit the company’s website.