Think outside the box - reuse, recycle & restyle


We live in a disposable age with more packaging produced than ever before, so rather than bin it why not reuse it?

Two ‘creations’ inspired this article. Firstly, when my mother, who is of the ‘Make Do and Mend generation’, transformed an empty tub of Pringles into a spaghetti storage jar. Secondly, when my student housemates and I made a lampshade out of an empty popcorn carton. The lampshade probably violated every health and safety regulation in existence but this was back in the day when things were a little more casual! Different times maybe, but the problem of landfill still remains.

As a student, I loved my blue Ty Nant mineral water bottle with its dark blue candle. It was my modern take on the candle in a wicker basket Chianti bottle that could be found in every Italian Trattoria in the UK. Back then I thought I was being so sophisticated lighting my student bedroom with candles in bottles. I’ve since moved on to artisan gin and posh tonic bottles but the reuse possibilities are still endless.


Recycling however shouldn’t just be limited to glass bottles. Stylish boutique paper bags needn’t be thrown away either, just reimagined to store magazines, brochures or wrapping paper. I love the Arket branding so much that I even use their disposable paper coffee cup as a plant pot and their empty plastic hand wash bottle enjoys another life as a vase.


Who doesn’t love Dyptique candles and their fabulous packaging? The empty glass candle can be used to store makeup brushes, cotton pads or lipsticks. Images to this effect are all over Instagram so I’m not reinventing the wheel but go that bit further and use the boxes too. 

At Christmas, I treated myself to a jar of Aesop hand cream that I planned to keep and refill. Unfortunately, I dropped the lid and smashed it. Down maybe but not out, I turned the jar into a tea light holder which now looks so lovely in my bathroom.


They say that necessity is the mother of invention and as a student that was definitely the case for me. Reusing packaging saves money on storage pots and jars but more than that it adds a unique and imaginative style to your home. If you think your home is too homogenous and curated, then chuck in a Marmite jar tea light holder and that'll mix things up a bit!  Placed next to some eucalyptus in a trendy lager bottle, you’ve got the perfect table decoration.


In our modern throw-away society, the importance of recycling can't be overstated.  It matters but let's be inventive with it and have some fun too.  I can't begin to tell you the joy I felt when the IKEA tea light fitted my Marmite jar!

Words and photos by Tanya Taylor © 2019

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