Why You Should Think Twice Before Throwing Away Old Egg Crates

There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but there's also plenty of trash. According to Oceana, over 30 billion pounds of plastic are estimated to be dropped into the ocean each year — that's close to the weight of over 45 Empire State Buildings, per Weight of Stuff. So what happens to that plastic when it takes a deep dive? Some of it breaks down into smaller pieces known as microplastics, releasing pollutants and disturbing underwater ecosystems (via National Ocean Service). If we're not careful, we'll have a plastic Manhattan at the bottom of the Atlantic in just a few years.

In the last decade, more and more businesses have begun using recycled plastics to create brand-new materials. Patagonia, for instance, is famous for its plastic polyester and sewing sweaters, T-shirts, and winter coats from melted-down, forgotten bottles. Similarly, Rothy's uses recycled single-use water bottles to make washable shoes. There are an increasing number of sustainable and ethical jewelry brands on the market as well. Yes, up-cycled materials can be made into everything from sparkling earrings to a new pair of sneakers.

However, there're also ways to create sustainable products from the comfort of your own home crafting corner. For instance, egg cartons — plastic or otherwise — have no shortage of creative uses. Here's why you should think twice before throwing away old egg crates and maybe even save a few fish in the process.

Create a garden paradise with old egg cartons

Just cracked the last egg into a batch of cookies? Use the empty carton to start seedlings. As detailed by PBS, all you'll need is a pair of scissors, your choice of seeds, a generous helping of dirt, and water. Simply cut off the top of the egg carton and add soil to each empty cup. Use your finger to delicately make a hole, and bury the seed. Spray with water, and you're good to go. If you keep the carton in a warm and sunny area, you should see sprouts in just a few weeks. When those baby plants are looking green and healthy, it's safe to transfer the carton outside if you're using a cardboard carton (via Barton Hill Farms).

Alternatively, if you have an interest in bird watching, use a retired egg carton to lure over the neighborhood robins (maybe even a squirrel or two). To craft a bird feeder, you'll need just three things: scissors, bird seed, and twine, per Crafts on Sea. First, cut the top off of the carton. Make two small holes — or use the preexisting holes — in the elevated sections between egg cups. Thread the twine through. Ultimately, you'll be able to tie the feeder around a tree branch, filling the empty egg cups with seed to attract wildlife. Say hello to a real-time nature documentary outside your window.

Empty egg crates can be used as organization tools

If you have more earrings than you know what to do with, empty egg crates can provide a helpful method of storage. Cut off the top of the carton and, if you're feeling extra crafty, paint the bottom your favorite color. Now, you can easily organize jewelry into the empty egg cups and even stack these crafty containers on top of your vanity. Other items — nuts, bolts, and screws, for instance — can also be sorted into an egg cartons, per This Old House. Keep your new storage container under the sink for easy access.

If you're a painter, move old cartons straight from the fridge into your studio. The empty egg cups can be used as a makeshift palette, storing paint while you work on your next masterpiece. Egg crates aren't the only items that can be repurposed — check out the many uses of empty shampoo bottles and what to do with old K-cups, too.