Living how to upcycle styrofoam coolers

Published on February 16th, 2016 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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7 Ways To Upcycle Styrofoam Coolers

how to upcycle styrofoam coolers

I’ve got a family member who loves to ship us meat for a holiday gift. We enjoy it… but we always end up with a Styrofoam shipping box in the basement. Like most places, we can’t recycle them with our pick-up service, and given their environmental impact, I just hate to throw them away.

You may get similar gifts, or have medications delivered in polystyrene foam containers. You may have picked up a Styrofoam cooler at some point. We’re not here to judge… we just hope that you, too, won’t succumb to the temptation to toss that container.

I spent some time this morning poking around on Pinterest for ways to upcycle Styrofoam containers. I didn’t find a lot of different kinds of projects, but I did find all sorts of interesting variations on certain themes. Take a look at what I’ve pulled together here, and then let us know: how you reuse or upcycle those foam containers?

How To Upcycle Styrofoam Boxes and Coolers: 7 Projects (with Variations)

The Ottoman: Styrofoam shipping containers are almost exactly the same size as your typical ottoman, so why not make one of your own. It can be as simple as adding some fabric with pins and glue… but rollers and legs are also possibilities. And keep in mind that these make stylish spaces for storage, also.

The Hydroponic Garden: Now, this is very cool! Martha Stewart shares this plan on the Home Depot’s Garden Club blog for making a no-frills soil-free garden. Just make sure to line that cooler: you don’t want that polystyrene foam leaching into plants you might eat.

The Stray Cat Shelter: Cats get out… if you’ve ever had one, you know this. Fortunately, they don’t go far, so this plan for a warm, protected shelter can help keep them safe, and help you find them. Adding a plastic bin makes for a more sturdy structure.

The $8 Air Conditioner: OK, this probably isn’t going to cool your whole house, but for a little more comfort in one room, or in a tent while camping, etc., this should do the trick. (via American Overlook)

The Patio Drink Cooler: Want something that looks just a bit nicer than that Styrofoam cooler when friends come over for a barbecue? You can build a box to surround it: just decide if you want to buy the lumber, or use pallet wood.

The Vermicomposting Bin: Styrofoam coolers are also the perfect size for an indoor worm composting set-up. Again, I suggest lining them with plastic to prevent leaching…

The Planter Box: Like other containers, foam boxes make great planters. It’s just a matter of how you want them to look. You can create a faux stone look, cover it in fabric, or paint it.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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