Plastic egg cartons – a good idea in the past

Plastic egg cartons were once believed to be the best selection for consumers and for the earth. The customer could see the eggs and know that they were clean and without cracks. And they could be recycled. But all of that has changed. Recycling that was sent to other countries has now come close to a standstill, and we are finding that our country does not have the means, the equipment, or the manpower to recycle the enormous amount of waste that we produce.

In addition to the fact that we have a recycling crisis in the United States, we are all beginning to realize that the health of our planet is a responsibility of both consumers AND producers. For that reason, we at Nature’s Yoke have made the decision to go plastic-free in 2020. Read all about our exciting news here.

Meanwhile…those pesky plastic cartons

Meanwhile there are still some plastic cartons floating around either at your own home or in the stores, as we wait on the complete transition to post-consumer recycled paper cartons. Unfortunately, since most areas of the country no longer accept these cartons for recycling, they must be thrown away. We hate to see that happen. As with many other products, we wonder if there aren’t a few hacks that could still help us get a little more use out of the containers. So we thought we would give you some great ideas for using any plastic egg cartons you still have at home. Because reusing or re-purposing is part of the sustainable lifestyle.

Re-purposing: what is it and why do it?

Re-purposing is the act of taking something already at hand, and using it for a totally new purpose. Re-purposing is often considered to be on a higher sustainability level than recycling. Why? Because it takes materials that are already in existence and gives them a new role. There is no energy spent and no new resources to be produced. Well, of course YOUR energy is spent, but that’s a good thing, right? Re-purposing is cost efficient and is considered to be part of micro-sustainability.  Micro-sustainability involves those small, individual actions that add up to and contribute to making an overall environmental impact. That means that every time we re-purpose or upcycle (same thing) we are a part of the SOLUTION. And that feels good. Here’s an easy to read article about why re-purposing is often better than recycling.

Re-purposing and Organizing for a double shot of satisfaction

If you’re like me, these are two areas that make your heart feel light: re-purposing and organizing. Let’s be honest, even those who aren’t as passionate about the earth as some of us, still feel a great satisfaction about finding a new purpose for an item in our home or business. It sort of makes you feel like a genius. “Whoa, that was clever of me!” Combine that with the great feeling of organizing something and you’ve got a double dose of gratification. Didn’t know that organizing brought so much satisfaction? This article explains a few of the ways in which organizing can actually improve your physical and mental health. So you will be involved in micro-sustainability, organizing, AND improving your health. Win, win, WIN!

Plastic cartons in your drawers

plastic egg carton repurposed to organize desk drawer

Organizing your desk drawer

All of us have a drawer or two we sincerely hope no one else ever opens. I dare you to publish a picture of that drawer on social media. Plastic egg cartons to the rescue. You can lay them open flat in the drawer, or cut them in half at the hinge, and use both sides or one side depending on your needs. You can place one in your desk drawer to keep small things sorted – like rubber bands, paper clips, thumb tacks, postage stamps, brads, picture hangers, etc. The larger side can hold scissors, markers, pens and pencils.

Are you a seamstress? Then you know your sewing drawers can be a nightmare. Egg cartons are sectioned perfectly to store bobbins, a thimble, safety pins, straight pins, hook and eyes, and buttons. Laid open in your drawer or on top of your sewing table, the wider sections from the lid can hold bias tape, zippers, and packages of lace. Now you can easily thumb through them to select the one you need. Our half-dozen carton worked well for this project!

Speaking of sewing, here is another great idea. You can fill the sections of a carton with various colors of thread,  small bits of elastic, a few pieces of Velcro, safety pins, needles, a needle threader, buttons in a variety of standard sizes and colors, a few snaps, and a tiny rolled up tape measure. Now close the carton and send it with your college student for those sewing emergencies when Mom won’t be there to come to the rescue.


Plastic egg carton by Nature's Yoke re-purposed to organize sewing notions

Sewing notions – neat and tidy

Plastic cartons in your shed, in the bathroom….everywhere!

Want more organizing ideas? Remember, organizing is good for your health! Uncluttering your surroundings helps you unclutter your mind.

How about using egg cartons in the shed to keep different sizes of nails, washers, bolts, nuts, drill bits, picture hangers, screws, connecting plates, toggles, brads, etc. Perfect! You might even want one of those cartons in the house for when you’re scrambling to find the perfect hardware for a project.

Do you have a family member who loves all things aquatic? (In our house that’s everyone.) Then I’m sure your shed has all sorts of miscellaneous fishing tackle. How about re-purposing your cartons to separate different fishing lures, bobbers, hooks, and weights.

plastic egg carton by Nature's Yoke re-purposed to organize tools and hardware

Organizing hardware

Egg cartons work great under a bathroom sink to contain nail polish bottles. The can all stand upright and be divided by color.  Or use a carton to divide hair accessories such as rubber bands, bobby bins, and clips. Below is an example for a little girl, but even a teenager can store scrunchies and hair ties. Imagine being that organized!

Do you know what would make the above idea a double duty “re-purposing?” You can simply close the egg carton and pack it in your suitcase for your next trip. No more disorganized hair gear in the bottom of your luggage. So now you have an under-the-sink organizer and a little travel case.

Nature's Yoke plastic egg carton re-purposed for organizing hair accesories

Organizing hair accessories

Egg cartons for crafts or playroom

Egg cartons are excellent for keeping craft components ready for use. Wouldn’t it be helpful when making a gingerbread house? Marshmallows, sprinkles, gumdrops, jelly beans, chocolate bits, could all be ready for easy selection in order to make a beautiful little house or village. That is, if you don’t keep snitching your favorite candies!

Or how about for jewelry making? Your carton can house all of the tiny pieces that so easily get mixed up.

Egg cartons have endless uses in the playroom. Perfect for budding artists, they simply pour paint into the different sections. There’s often a small hole in which to place the brush. Now let their artist skills come alive. And what an easy clean-up. Often organization actually unleashes creativity!

Nature's Yoke plastic egg carton upcycled to use for little girl's paint container

Egg carton re-purposed for painting

Maybe someone in your home is less of a painter and more of a model enthusiast. Egg cartons can be used to house small pieces while constructing model cars or airplanes. The compartments are so handy for compartmentalizing tiny components for robotics kits such as this one.

Does one of your Lego fanatics get frustrated digging through hundreds of pieces to build something? Help him or her organize, using only the pieces that will be right for the project. Now he can complete the task. Decreasing frustration leads to success.

upcycling Nature's Yoke egg cartons for separating Lego pieces

Lego pieces ready for assembly

Still need more ideas?

Are you a bird lover? Before you run off to the store to find just the right bird feeder, try upcycling. The birds aren’t looking for a designer model. Instead, fill egg carton sections with bird seed.  Next, punch holes in the ends of the carton. Finally, use twine (hopefully there’s a used piece in your shed) and hang your bird feeder from a branch. Now sit back and enjoy the show! Your backyard birds will thank you and you will feel good about not making another expensive purchase. Wow, you took part in micro-sustainability. And you didn’t spend money. And the birds are being fed. BAM!

Or give your littlest munchkin a bowl full of beads, buttons, or beans. Now place a paper in each section with a number on it. Let your little guy try to put the right number of items in each compartment. Then you can check to see how well he did! Math games sharpen his mind and occupy his time without a screen. Another win. You’re teaching him about the value of screen-free related activities. Additionally you’re teaching by example about re-purposing. That’s a lesson that will help your child engage in a greener lifestyle.

Let us hear from you

Hope you can use one of these ideas. If one works for you, or if you have other ideas, we would love to hear from you as we all follow the four R’s of green living: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Refuse. RECYCLE as many items as you can. REUSE, re-purpose or upcycle as a part of your lifestyle. REDUCE the amount of items you purchase as well as reducing all waste. And finally, when possible, REFUSE things like single use plastics, plastic straws, etc. Let’s join together today for a healthier earth tomorrow.