Free Upcycling

naomi.kohlmeier Posts: 380 ✭✭✭

I'm wondering what kinds of materials you are able to get for free to use for your DIY projects? I've used pallets for my chicken coop and pathways, and 55 gallon food grade barrels cut in half for gardens but, there has got to be more than that to repurpose. What have you found for free and how have you used it?



  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    Craigslist has been a great source for free stuff for us. We have been getting bricks recently and have been creating walkways and patios at our house basically for free - usually just some labor helping someone else tear up their bricks they do not want any longer. Windows are another resource - we are re-purposing some soon to make a top for our cold frame bed (that we made out of reclaimed bricks lol!)

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 1,028 ✭✭✭✭

    There is a network you can join people offer all kinds of things for free to keep them from ending up in the landfill.

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @annbeck62 is soooo right. Some communities have really great freecycle activity. We've even gotten lawn mowers or grills. Art supplies. Yarn. 3x brand new men's dress shirts. we've also given quite a bit back, as we cleaned out extra kitchen things or tools or furniture. it's a karma thing- don't be a taker; be a community member.

  • ieducate2008
    ieducate2008 Posts: 40 ✭✭✭

    I helped someone take down a deck. I took all the wood. It wasn't stained. So, I used the wood to create some of my raised beds. They also gave me some cinder blocks which I used for end pieces in the raised beds. I also have a lot of bricks that I've accumulated from various people. I'm going to create some nice walk ways.

  • Ethereal Earth
    Ethereal Earth Posts: 142 ✭✭✭

    I've heard of some people helping to take down an old greenhouse then getting that greenhouse for the work. Coldframes from windows. I've used an old cabinet door as a welcome sign/key hanger by my door. The knob is great to hold up my dogs leash. Oh dish clothes, sheets, towels for rags for painting or cleaning. Old clothes change into new clothes or fabric. T-shirts into a quilt. Free packing cardboard boxes can be great to put in a new garden plot to prevent/kill weeds and grass quickly. They can also go into the compost or used to hold supplies.

    Where I am many people give away dirt or gravel, paving stones. Pallets are popular everywhere. OfferUp I have been seeing a lot of food go for free, including produce.

    Really it is all about looking at the item and thinking outside the box on how you can use it. Those 55 gallon buckets could be used to hold feed, collect rainwater, compost barrels, make moonshine or mead (my grandpa used his for that).

  • naomi.kohlmeier
    naomi.kohlmeier Posts: 380 ✭✭✭

    Wow! What a lot of great ideas! Love these!

  • mgray11
    mgray11 Posts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Also - and I'm assuming you have Facebook - Facebook has "Buy Nothing" Groups/Communities where you can either give or ask for items/services. That's a great place to start imo!

  • KymWade
    KymWade Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    I love these ideas!! Here is one I recently came across:

  • RustBeltCowgirl
    RustBeltCowgirl Posts: 1,403 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2020

    My boss has a daughter that has to have liquid nutrition and gets it delivered in heavy duty styrofoam coolers. My "sister" just moved to OK and needed to empty her fridge and freezer. I told my boss that I would take all the coolers he had. The 2 big camping coolers would not have been enough. I took 2 Jeep Grand Cherokee loads to her.

    One hack that I'm going use for a big one that I kept.

    I also used a small one as a planter for a bare root rose bush until I decide where to put it.

  • valizona
    valizona Posts: 48 ✭✭✭

    not to mention that styrofoam ottoman could double as a cooler when youre chillin on the covered patio. use an oil cloth or outdoor fabric and you might consider selling them to college students on the side:)

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    The parks department in our little town had a bunch of containers that they bought shrubs and trees in. They were free to us and perfect for our container gardening.

  • valizona
    valizona Posts: 48 ✭✭✭

    free stuff can always always be found. you barter and trade. Ask around, everywhere and anywhere.

    try and put a call out to neighbors for what you're looking for or ask suggestions for the desired goal. I asked for scrap wood folks didnt need to make a raised bed. Also, the local lumber store (McCoys) has a corner where they stack the pallets for the taking. A local flooring liquidator has pallets for free, too.

    When I lived in Az, there was a tile store that gave away broken and discontinued pieces that were perfect for one who wants to mosaic.

    we also belonged to a local community group that had its own FB page where we could post requests for stuff or for removal of stuff. Perhaps you might be compelled to FORM a local group yourself. we had monthly potlucks and met for the purpose of building community and I can honestly say that it has added such meaning and substance to all our lives.

    check with garden clubs/organizations for plant swaps. what's growing like a weed in your yard can be divided up and traded for something someone else has that will add to your own landscape.

    Or one can simply drive around early on a trash day. You'd be surprised what treasures are set out to the curb. In fact, we used to collect thing thrown out in alleys in Tucson for reclaimed/ repurposing or re-sell. In fact, we scavenged a 4person hot tub and made a buried resevoir for rain water storage, Added a submersible pump and it watered my desert landscape.

    think about what your needs are and where those materials might be found and just start asking.


  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    Also grocery stores and lumber yards often have pallets available for free. Just ask!! There are literally hundreds of things you can do with pallets.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,542 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I picked up 3 2 by 4 pallets, 2 3 by 3 pallets (using for small shed with rounded top - i have 4 more here. It should go up in an afternoon, 2 3 by 5 pallets, two that are 2 by about 6 or 7 foot./ There are two more 3 by 7's there with wood coverings. I also picked up some small pieces of plywood. I need this to repair chicken coops.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,604 admin

    You know, one of these upside down, stuffed with leaves would work to overwinter a tender tea rose. You might want to put a rock on top so it doesn't blow off in a wind.

  • monica197
    monica197 Posts: 332 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Today I upcycled the mattress pad from my massage table. I made a quilt for my brand-new cousin and used it as the batting. It made the cushiest baby quilt.