Office supplies are often sold in bulk, meaning the majority of that 2,000-count box of paper clips may sit forgotten in the back of a desk. Help keep useful items from collecting dust or going to waste by finding creative ways to re-purpose office extras at home. Read on for 10 ideas we love.
1. Boost your smartphone with a rubber band grip
If you’re one of those bold smartphone users who opt out of protective cases, this creative hack from Timothy Wikander is perfect for adding extra grip where you need it.
Follow these simple steps to easily convert an unused rubber band from your desk into a handy grip – reducing the risk of smartphone accidents and preventing useful office supplies from going to waste. For more of Wikander’s smart and simple ideas, check him out on Instructables.
2. Use paper clips as tiny tools
The humble paper clip is ideal for using as a small tool to reach those tiny reset buttons on your electronics, or to unclog spray bottle nozzles on your cleaning supplies and beauty products. Bend them up a bit, and they work perfectly for hanging houseplants, party lanterns and other small objects around the house.
In a pinch, these oft-forgotten office supplies also serve as a stylist’s secret weapon for replacing broken zipper-pulls or keeping a torn hem in place until you get home.
Bottom line: Paper clips are always handy to have around the house, so be sure to save your extras from the office. You never know when you may need one! For even more ideas, check out this fun graphic from WonderHowTo.
Photo: Ana Dziengel/Babble Dabble Do
3. Rock quirky office supply jewelry
Mom, architect and Babble Dabble Do blogger Ana Dziengel admits that she’s “obsessed with office supplies” and hates to let shiny paper clips or neon-colored erasers go to waste.
In a reuse project she calls “partly for kicks and partly serious,” the crafty blogger dreamed up five fun and quirky jewelry designs made entirely from old office supplies.
From a rubber band and book ring belt to a statement necklace made from butterfly clips, check out each of Dziengel’s designs and learn how to snag the look for yourself in this simple photo tutorial.
4. Keep cutting boards in place
Have a cutting board in the kitchen that just won’t stop sliding around as you chop? All you need is a pair of rubber bands to keep it in place.
Simply slide a rubber band around each end of your cutting board to add traction and stop all that slipping. Your fingers will thank you later.
Photo: Natalie/Creme de la Craft
5. Protect your tech with a bubble mailer
You may remember this inventive upcycling idea from our Reuse Design Challenge back in January. In case you missed it, here’s a refresher.
With only a few additional materials, creative DIY-lover Natalie of Creme de la Craft repurposed an old bubble mailer into a sleek and simple case for her beloved iPad. Use her step-by-step tutorial to give it a try on your favorite gadget, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
6. Help snack foods stay fresh
As entertaining as these shamelessly trendy mustache chip clips are, we still see no reason to spend hard-earned dollars (or purchase a new item) just to keep your favorite snack foods from going stale.
A binder clip or rubber band will do the same job, and they’re both free of waste and just plain free.
Photo: Jessica Hill/Mad in Crafts
7. Create a kitschy pendant lamp from office extras
This fun pendant lamp is bright, colorful and perfect for adding a touch of pizzazz to your workspace or crafting room. But can you guess what it’s made from?
Dreamed up by Mad in Crafts blogger Jessica Hill, the lamp itself is an old wastebasket with added color and texture from neon zip-ties. Want to give it a try? Head to this simple tutorial at Mad in Crafts for tips, instructions and step-by-step photos to help you do it right.
8. Reuse binders to stay organized at home
Bring some of those savvy organizational skills home with you by repurposing old work binders to keep bills, to-do lists, receipts, recipes and other household must-haves within close reach.
Photo: Heather/Dollar Store Crafts
9. Refill old notebooks to make them like new
Full notebooks can be a bit of a head-scratcher. Sure, you can recycle the paper, but what about covers made from plastic and other materials?
10. Donate and swap unwanted supplies
These projects are great for making use of a few odds and ends from your office supply stash. But what about the picks you have left over?
The best way to keep the rest of your unwanted office supplies from going to waste is to give them away to others who need them. Schools, after-school programs and day cares can always use donations of still-usable office supplies. Call ahead to a few locations in your area to see if they can take some of those extras off your hands.
Setting up a “swap station” at the office for unwanted supplies is another a surefire way to make sure nothing gets trashed. Offer supplies you no longer need to coworkers for free, and snag a few of their extras in return – cutting back waste for all involved.