11 Things to Do with Plastic Cups

Plastic cups are incredibly cheap and convenient, but most of them end their lives in landfills across the country. Rather than pitching the disposable beverage holders the minute you finish your drink, check out some of our nifty ideas on how you can reuse plastic cups around the house and yard!

  1. Start Seeds

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    Start seeds

    istockphoto.com

    Plastic cups can help you start this summer’s vegetable or flower garden indoors. Fill each cup about half way with potting soil, water well, and plant your seeds. Once seedlings appear, begin “hardening off” the plants by moving the cups outside to the patio or deck for a period of time every day. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend outdoors. When the plants are ready to stay outside overnight, invert a small clear plastic cup over the seedlings to turn each cup into a mini greenhouse.


    Related: 7 Ways to Buy Yourself a Green Thumb for Under $40

  2. Store Hardware

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    Nuts bolts

    istockphoto.com

    Nails, screws, nuts, and bolts seem to multiply in the home workshop. Keep all those tiny pieces and parts in order by storing them in plastic cups! Label the top outside rim of each cup with a permanent marker, and stack all the cups together to maximize storage space.

  3. Corral Clutter

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    Organize cup

    istockphoto.com

    Instead of shelling out big bucks on desktop organizers, keep your work space neat and tidy with plastic cups. Designate one tall cup for storing stray pens, pencils, and markers. Use another for random odds and ends like letter openers, hobby knives, and scissors. You can use shorter plastic cups to hold your smallest office accessories, such as paper clips, rubber bands, binder clips, safety pins, and thumbtacks. You’ll never have to search through your drawers for that yellow highlighter again!


    Related: 15 Easy Designs for a DIY Desk

  4. Separate Breakables

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    Ornament storage

    istockphoto.com

    Next holiday season, store fragile decorations and ornaments in plastic cups. Gently place each trinket in its own cup, and then pack the cups into a box; the cups will keep the items separated so they don’t bump together and break. For added protection, wrap extra-special ornaments in tissue paper or bubble wrap before placing them inside the plastic cups. You can use the same technique to pack fragile items for shipment.

  5. Hold Paint

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    Paint cups

    istockphoto.com

    Don’t bother using a full-size painting tray for small touch-up jobs around the house. Instead, pour a little paint into a plastic cup. When finished, simply toss the cup in the trash for an easy cleanup.


    Related: The 8 Painting Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

  6. Manage Ice Cream Melt

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    Popsicle cup

    istockphoto.com

    Everyone loves a good ice pop, but on a hot summer day, this sugary delight can turn into a sticky mess. To manage the melt, use a short plastic cup as a “drip tray” for your ice cream. Poke a hole or slit in the bottom of the cup, and push the ice pop stick through the hole. The melting treat will collect in the cup, preventing stray drips from spilling onto your clothing. 

  7. Prevent Squished Cupcakes

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    Cupcake cups

    istockphoto.com

    Whether you’re headed to a bake sale or birthday party, cupcakes can be difficult to transport. Prevent squished desserts by using plastic cups to create individual cupcake holders. This trick will ensure that your delightful desserts will be as pretty as a picture—and decidedly tastier—when you reach your destination.


    Related: The 10 Best Accessories You Can Buy for Your Car

  8. Amplify Your Smartphone

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    Spotify

    istockphoto.com

    If you’re ever in need of loud music but find yourself without a speaker, you can use a plastic cup to amplify the sound from your smartphone. Read one tutorial—which involves a plastic cup, a razor blade, and bobby pins—on the MacGyverisms website. 

  9. Shield from Sparklers

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    Sparklers

    istockphoto.com

    Safety first” should be the mantra for any Independence Day barbecue, but staying safe doesn’t mean you have to forgo a little glittery gratification. To keep hands safe from burns or injury while using sparklers, convert plastic cups into DIY sparkler shields. Push the sparkler through the bottom of a cup so that the wire "handle" sits inside the cup and the flammable portion sticks outside. Then, put your hand into the cup, grab the wire end of the sparkler, light it, and wave to your heart’s content!


    Related: 8 Dangerous Secrets Your Home May Be Hiding

  10. Recycle Crayons

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    Crayons

    istockphoto.com

    Did you know that you can take all those little crayon stubs that collect in the bottom of the box and transform them into new coloring sticks? Gather up all of the stubs of one particular color, carefully melt them on the stove, and then pour the wax into a plastic cup. Once the wax has cooled, cut your new crayons into chunky pie-shaped wedges, and keep on coloring.

  11. Hang Some Festive Lights

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    Plastic cup light

    instructables.com user davidandora

    Crafty DIYers can use plastic cups to create homemade party lights. First, grab a string of lights and as many plastic cups as there are bulbs in the string. Drill a hole into the bottom of each cup. Then, one by one, push the base of each bulb into the hole, with the bulb sitting inside the cup and the base sticking out. Screw each bulb back into the string of lights; the screwed-in bulbs will hold the cups in place. Hang the lights for a fun, festive vibe.


    Related: 15 "Under $100" Lighting Solutions for Every Room

  12. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!