A pile of empty cardboard toilet paper rolls with the text 'Sustainable September' overlaid on top.

Reduce, Reuse … Repurpose! It’s Time to Go Green with These Décor Tips

Written by Greystar
Edited by Greystar
Greystar Green September 11, 2018

Many items that may be lying around and cluttering your apartment can be used to create stylish décor. In honor of Greystar’s mission to promote sustainability through September, now is the perfect time to explore sustainable practices while you’re decorating or redecorating the place you call home. From old glass bottles to your leftover toilet paper rolls, there are many different ways to glam up your space.

So why does this sound better than making a trip to your local home decor store? Recycling as a general practice is great for the environment.

“We definitely live on one planet, and people are connected to one another,” says Eddie Lott, Founder of Recycle Revolution, a non-landfill recycling and compost collection service and community drop-off center in Dallas. “So, there’s this responsibility somewhere inside, no matter how secondary to other responsibilities, to acknowledge it through action.”

And while this includes putting cans in a separate bag, placing your plastics together or volunteering at your local landfill, there’s so much more to it.

“I think repurposing items is awesome and valuable because it draws attention and curiosity and encourages us as observers to think – even if momentarily – about something that we otherwise wouldn't acknowledge at that moment,” he said. “And I think that builds conscientiousness.”

Now’s the time to explore the creative ways you can begin decorating your apartment with items you may have lying around. If you see something that another apartment owner has thrown in the dumpster or you find something at a thrift store for a great bargain, snag it and make something cool out of it.

Don’t ditch the DVDs and books just yet.


Give inspiration back to the movies and books that once inspired you. Instead of tossing these gems into a pile of has-beens, repurpose them into strong and sturdy support systems. Get creative by stacking your old DVDs, books and VHSs to place plants and lamps on top of. You can risk it without any adhesive or you can take it a step further by gluing them together for a nightstand or side table. Take a walk on the wild side by layering them in a circular pattern. If you’re looking for a project that’s simpler, try ripping out the pages and using them as wallpaper or for the backdrop for another project.

Get the last drop from your beer and wine bottles.

Wine bottles recycled for apartment decor

For the love of drinking beer and wine, what can you do with all these excess bottles? Do not throw them away! It’s actually quite simple to turn your glass bottles into storage items, flower vases and even lanterns. Begin by using a glass cutter from your local hardware store or big-box retailer to cut them down to size, then soften the edges. Once you’re done, hang them on the wall, leave on the table for your flowers or store your utensils in them. No matter your choice of drink, the possibilities are endless.

Am I rustic yet? Wooden pallets as furniture.

Do you ever just stumble upon wooden pallets? If so, don’t keep walking. These wooden structures make for the perfect source for repurposed apartment décor. Make a bed frame, a coffee table or a dining room table with leftover pallets. You can leave them in their natural state for a rustic vibe or get creative with vibrant colors and textures to complement your existing apartment décor.

Strip it down when you upholster your couch. 

You might want to think twice about throwing out your worn-out couch. While you may have exhausted the fabric, the bones of your furniture are still strong and sturdy. Save money by purchasing deadstock fabric and upholster your current couch or chair to bring new life into your apartment. Not only is this a sustainable practice, it’s also great for your budget.

What do I do with these old crates and dresser drawers? 

Crates, crates and more crates. If you have hauled in fruits or have wooden crates lying around, it’s time to get creative with them. Stack them on top of each other to create book shelves, hang them on the walls as storage units or use them as blanket holders. The same goes for old dresser drawers. These can be sanded, painted to perfection and used for wall storage and décor. Hang photos in them or keep your books organized with these creative spaces.

Make your vinyl records hum again. 

If your vinyl records just don’t sing the way they used to, repurpose them as decorative and storage items for your apartment. It could be as simple as framing them and hanging them on the wall, or creating a retro-style mailbox by folding them and placing them on the wall near your front door.

Let your garden grow before tossing these items into the dirt. 

For apartment residents who are have a patio or garden area in their community, you can get pretty creative with household items you might have considered tossing out. Collect your coffee cans, old mugs and even plastic soda bottles to grow different plants and herbs. For the most part, you don’t need to alter the structure of these items – with the exception of the plastic soda bottles. Simply cut the bottles down to size, pour in your soil and pot your pothos or basil. Not only are you being sustainable, you’re also putting your green thumb to work.

Did someone say toilet paper rolls?

As the most unlikely piece of décor in the bunch, this one is often overlooked. However, if you’re looking for a way to infuse some fun into your arts and crafts time, this is it. Begin by tossing your toilet paper rolls into a bin for safe keeping. Once you’ve collected enough, look around for inspiration or follow your instincts and begin to design something new. With this, it could be as simple as making a lady bug to place on your patio. If you’re really up for a challenge, try your hand at making a mural. Paint the rolls a desired color and then create a funky and cute design layered on a canvas for your wall. There are endless possibilities long after your paper roll has run out.

Living sustainably is not limited to just recycling. It’s about being conscious of our contribution to your apartment and your community. Talk with your neighbors and your apartment community managers to learn how they’re practicing sustainable living. According to Lott, “letting them know that you care about the practice is a great way to jumpstart the process.”

In the meantime, check out other ways that Greystar is redefining green through September.

In case you missed it, check out our blog post to learn how you can practice sustainability in your kitchen.

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