One of my favorite things to do at the beach is to “beachcomb”– and as a result I’ve amassed a pretty large collection of seashells of all sizes. While I have used some of them at times in summer home decor (I love imitating expensive Pottery Barn centerpieces by pairing the shells with glass containers and white/cream pillar candles I already own), the rest have become unused junk, stored away in a box. Here are five of the best ideas I found while “combing” the internet recently for ways to use them, combined with some of my own ideas. While I was looking, I also found some great ways to use old rubber flip flops as well, just in time for National Flip Flop Day (the third Friday in June):
- Bust them/crush them (or don’t) and use as a natural mulch around plants– the shells will gradually break down and provide valuable nutrients to the soil (Here’s a tutorial from sfgate.com.)
- Use them to provide a “drainage layer” in plant pots that don’t have a hole in the bottom
- Put an interesting one (or two) in a terrarium or just sit it on a shelf next to a plant or book
- Donate them– ask an aquarium/fish tank store if they could use your shells (might be more likely with a locally owned small business rather than a big box pet store) or donate them to a creative reuse center or art teacher
- Get crafty with them along with a hot glue gun– while there’s not many “shell crafts” I’d consider doing these days, if I had a beach house I’d probably consider more, such as covering an old wreath form with the shells to hang on the front door. I once hot glued shells all over a photo frame, which can make a cute gift when surrounding a beach vacation photo. And, there are lots of ways to make jewelry with them— of course the easiest way is to find a shell that already has a natural hole in it, as many “fan” shells do (at the hinge area, also called the “umbo”), and thread through some twine or thread for a necklace– no drill needed!
- One of the easiest ways to upcycle old flip flops is to wrap yarn, narrow ribbon or embroidery floss around the “thong” on them, as seen in the photo from creativelybeth.com. (Talk about a brainless activity to do while watching TV!) Again, a hot glue gun can come in handy, gluing the beginning and finishing “ends” to be more secure.
- If they’re damaged, cut up the foam base of the flip flops into shapes (they can be used like a rubber stamp on an ink pad) or
- Cut up the foam base into tiny squares to help level large appliances, wobbly chair legs and other furniture, or
- Cut up the base to use as packing material when mailing packages
- Embellish the center of the flip flop’s thong with an interesting button, such as finding a pair of vintage buttons or clay buttons to have a matching pair of flip flops. I love the tutorial at 2 Good Claymates; scroll down to find how to tie on a shank made out of thin cord on which to thread the buttons and secure in place.
Of course, just like with shells, flip flops in any condition can be donated to a creative reuse center (if they accept foam items), and gently used flip flops (and any gently used footwear) are welcome by a great organization called soles4souls, which donates the footwear to those in need. Thanks to a collaboration with Zappos, if there’s not a soles4souls collection point in your area, you can mail them to the organization for FREE, up to 50 pounds!