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A piece of every vegan crafter suffers when the extremely versatile gallon milk jug leaves our lives. For a while, we were so good together, and though we might get to occasionally cross paths again, it is always at the bidding of some other suitor. For many of us, it’s not the full fat we’ll miss but the upcycling possibilities of the plastic jug.

However, the sorrows need not live long, as the lowly plant-based milk carton, too, comes with a plethora of opportunities for quirky, environmentally conscious consumers to make the most of the materials they’ve acquired. Or, in simpler terms, there are some wicked cool DIY upcycling projects for those who find themselves stocked with plant-based milk (or otherwise) cartons.

1. Carton Planters





There are a great number of folks getting into gardening these days, and rather than running out to buy pots for seedlings, we can adapt cartons into little planters. These planters can come with handy roofs that protect the young sprouts from getting pummeled in rains or roasted on sunny days. Just cut out the sides of the carton, leaving enough at the bottom to hold potting mix and leaving the roof at the top. For larger plants, where a roof might get in the way, simply cut the top off, and the base will make a good sized pot, which can be decorated.

2. Holiday House



Initially, this seems a great project for the kids. The peaked roofs of cartons make for perfect houses, be them haunted, Santa’s, or what have you. The kids can have at it and get creative. Heck, they can build entire cities. But, crafty adults can have fun, too, constructing elaborate fairy houses, birdhouses, or decorative log cabins to decorate the garden or patio. Whatever the project is calling for, a carton provides a strong, steady foundation for craft-style house construction, and garbage becomes something to celebrate.

3. Bird Feeder



Birds are just a delight to have around: the singing, the flashes of color, the flittering about. It’s easy to kill an afternoon watching them dart from tree to tree, and it’s even easy if there is a bird feeder to keep them coming back for more. Again, we are starting with a great base shape, so for a bird feeder, we only need to cut out one side of the box, leaving enough at the bottom to hold seed from falling out, then insert a little popsicle stick or post for the birds to perch on. The outside of the feeder can be decorated into something more visual appealing.

4. Space Organizer



Where there is a box, there is a way to turn it into a neater, nicer way of storing things. Whether we are talking about something to hold the contents of a pockets, a sewing kit, or a load of ribbon, we can cut a milk carton—or several milk cartons—in many different ways to create handy little spots to pile our pencils, pocket change, toiletries, make up, mail, and countless other things.

5. Bathtub Boat



Rubber duckies are all well and good, but wouldn’t it be a lot more fun if the kids made their own bathtub toys? Milk cartons are shaped very well for making bathtub boats. Just remove one side, and they can be loaded with figurines and/or cargo. The boats can be decorated as the kids like, and they will actually float around the tub. Upcycled straws can be used to hold up sails (little triangles) cut from the removed side of the carton. Or, take them outside for a race.

6. DIY Wallet



It’s so nice to save a little money by reusing potentially tossed out materials to make something new and, even better, something that you need. Plant-based milk and/or juice cartons can be formed into pretty cool wallets without much in the way of time or skill. The wallet is perfect for carrying around cash, credit cards, or IDs. Plus, it’s got just enough quirkiness to get noticed and appreciated, and just enough humility to probably not get stolen. That’s a great mix.

7. Pocket Pill Box



Unfortunately, we all get ill from time to time, and that may require carrying around medicine. A fun way to do it is via a pocket pill box made out of old cartoon caps. With a bit of slicing and dicing and some cleverly applied hot glue, an old soy milk carton can turn into a place to keep pills safe and accounted for until they are needed. They are easy to make and can be surprisingly useful.

Cartons, if we are going to have them, are great resources for all sorts of fun projects, and they are a great chance to get creative and make the most of what we’ve got on hand. The more we think this way, the better off the planet will be.

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