With summer approaching, those little mesh baskets that hold cherry tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries will soon be piling up on your kitchen counters. Unfortunately, these containers are made of type 5 plastic, or polypropylene, which is not usually accepted by most community curbside recycling programs. So for that reason, the following is a list of little-known ways you can cleverly re-use berry baskets and keep them from filling up our landfills. Earth thanks you in advance!
TIPS ON HOW TO UPCYCLE YOUR PLASTIC PRODUCE BASKETS
Build a Hanging Orchid Planter: Save yourself some money by making your own hanging baskets for your orchids. Just fill up a berry basket with sphagnum moss mixed with potting soil and suspend it with a length of monofilament fishing line.
Make a String Dispenser: Place a ball of string, twine, or yarn inside one berry basket, then feed a length of the cord through the top of a second, inverted basket, and tie the two baskets together with twist ties. This will create a dispenser so you don't have to bother untangling knots every time you need a piece of string, twine, or yarn.
Fashion a Screwdriver Holder: Mount an inverted berry basket on your workshop pegboard and use it to hold and organize screwdrivers that fit neatly between the slats.
Use as a Colander: If you want to wash or strain individual servings of fruits, vegetables, or hot pasta, just use a clean berry basket as a handy colander.
Hold Pads and Sponges: Place a berry basket near the corner of your kitchen sink and line the bottom with a layer of aluminum foil. Fashion a spout at the corner of the foil closest to the sink so it can act as a drain and keep water from pooling at the bottom of the basket. Place your steel wool soap pads and smelly sponges inside the berry basket for added longevity!
Use as a Dishwasher Basket: It's hard to get small items like baby bottle caps, jar lids, and food-processor accessories to stay put in the dishwasher. Place them inside a berry basket, and then cover with another basket that you fasten with a rubber band. Put the two baskets on your dishwasher's upper rack and sit back while those small items get a thorough cleaning.
Organize your Medications: If you're taking several medications, place the bottles or your prepackaged individual doses in a berry basket so they'll always be in one, easy-to-remember location. The baskets are small enough that they also fit perfectly inside your cupboard or medicine cabinet.
Arrange Flowers: Insert an inverted berry basket into a vase (cut the basket to fit, if necessary) to keep cut flowers in place and standing tall.
Protect Seedlings: Place inverted berry baskets over young plants to let water, sunlight, and air in while keeping raccoons and squirrels out. Just make sure the basket is buried below ground level and slightly secured with a few good-sized stones.
Make a Bulb Cage: Protect your freshly planted flower bulbs from squirrels and other rodents by planting the bulbs inside berry baskets.
Keep Peels out of your Drain: Use a berry basket as a sink strainer to catch vegetable peelings as they fall.
Organize Packets: Keep a berry basket inside your cupboard to organize seasoning mixes, drink mix packages, and condiment packets.
Make Easter Baskets: Weave ribbon between the slats, attach pipe cleaners or wire for a handle, and cover the bottom with shredded green paper, then fill with Easter candy. Just look how Martha Stewart turned her berry baskets into festive Easter containers!
Use for Fridge Organization: Just because you bought the mini baskets when they were filled with berries doesn't mean you can't use them to store baby carrots, onions, radishes, or mushrooms in your refrigerator. What a great way to keep your fridge organized!
Organize Bath Toys: Little boats, ducks, mini alphabet letters, fish, and trucks can all stay organized and on the edge of the tub if kept in one or several berry baskets.
Donate to Schools: Classroom teachers can put berry baskets to innumerable uses doing crafts with their students. Just call up your local middle school and see if they'll accept your donation.
Return to Seller: If you purchased your produce from a local farmer or Farmer's Market, ask if they'd like the berry baskets returned when you're finished with them. Most likely, they'll be glad you asked and accept them.