12 Uses for Takeout Containers

    Photo of takeout containers by Rusty Clark/Flickr.Even the greenest among us sometimes just need to eat takeout. Hey, it happens. Sometimes it's because of an office lunch, or maybe a night when it is impossible to cook. Well, my ecologically-minded friends, if you get stuck with takeout containers, you can definitely upcycle them. Plastic, paper, and Styrofoam takeout containers offer a myriad of household uses, from gardening to storage.

    Planter: Takeout containers make fine DIY planters. Be sure to wash and dry thoroughly before planting in them. Also make sure that you poke drainage holes in the bottoms of the containers.

    Seed Starting Tray: Shallow, rectangular plastic and Styrofoam takeout containers are perfect DIY seed starting trays. Saving your takeout trays throughout the year is a super way to save a few dollars on seed starting trays.

    Food Storage: Although takeout containers are not as sturdy as Tupperware-type containers, they’re perfect to keep around to send guests home with after dinner parties. If you’re planning a potluck dinner, be sure to save up your clean and dry takeout containers so that guests can take the leftovers off your hands.

    Paint Palette: Get an extra use out of plastic or Styrofoam takeout containers by reusing them as paint palettes. They’re equally good for kids’ finger paints and grown-up painting projects.

    Desk Organizer: If you have odds and ends floating around your desk drawers or your desktop, plastic takeout containers make excellent desk organizing containers.

    Store Cords: Thanks to Apartment Therapy for this tip. Place electrical device cords and chargers in clear plastic takeout containers for easy and efficient storage and organization.

    Store Arts and Crafts Supplies: Clean and dry takeout containers are a crafter’s dream. Store everything from beads to small supplies of paint in takeout containers.

    Repurpose as a Scoop: Scoop potting soil, grody stuff that you don’t want to touch, or really anything with a clean used takeout container. Plastic containers are great to keep by the bath for washing shampoo out of kids’ hair. Take one to the beach to use as a sand scoop.

    Use Styrofoam to Make Crafts: The DIY blogosphere is rife with projects made from cut-up Styrofoam containers. Garlands are particularly popular, as are Styrofoam containers embossed with cookie cutters. This is a great resource for schoolteachers with limited funds for art supplies.

    Packing Material: Do you need to mail something fragile, but you don’t have any packing peanuts? No problem; you can pack the fragile object in cut up Styrofoam takeout containers.

    Stop Drafts: Some super-resourceful folks actually stop up holes in their walls with pieces of used Styrofoam takeout containers. These must be trimmed carefully with a good knife in order to be aesthetically pleasing. I got this MacGyveresque tip from homesteaders, but HVAC contractors say that using proper insulation materials actually stops drafts more effectively. For information about insulation, see Busting Three Green Insulation Myths by an Atlanta remodeling contractor.

    Jewelry Boxes: If you’re a fashionable person with an excess of costume jewelry, clean and dry takeout boxes could be the perfect solution for storing all your baubles and beads.

    Chaya Kurtz writes for Networx.com.

    Updated June 17, 2018.

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