7 ideas for re-using big plastic food tubs

You know those tubs that chocolates come in at Christmas, or that you get the chocolate brownies and flapjacks in from all the main supermarkets - You've probably got some in a cupboard or knocking around somewhere.

They are supposedly recyclable, so ultimately that's one use for them

But what else?

Whatever you re-use it for, you might want to decorate it.

To paint them, we've found that a 50/50 mix of poster paint and PVA works well, although it may need more than one coat to cover it well.  The PVA is to make sure the paint actually sticks to the plastic and doesn't just run off. 

If you are going to re-use for food, probably best not to paint it.

1.   Keeping small toys together.   

Play mobil, Lego, Marble Run kits, all that kind of thing..  All with lots of small parts that arrive in poly-bags inside the cardboard boxes, which never close properly again and always (ALWAYS) leak bits out of the seams of the bottom of the boxes.   Put all those in one of these tubs! 

You can always decorate them nicely, print out pictures of whats inside and stick it on the top, all that kind of thing.

2.   Drums.    

    A plastic tub drum
    "Space Drum"
  • Paint them.
  • Decorate them.
  • Hit them with a stick. 

3.   Keep more sweets in them.  

Seriously - it's what they were designed for. 

Get some packets of sweets instead, or even better still visit an old fashioned sweet shop where you can buy them loose. 

In the words of the mighty Homer Simpson "Mmmmmmmmm... delicious candy" 

4.  Transporting cakes.  

Not like some fancy cake teleporter (although that would be cool) ..   If you're taking cakes in to the office, or to a cake sale at school where a nice tin is likely to get lost or dented, don't use a fancy cake tin or Tupperware to transport it - use a sweet tub. I guess it's a bit of an obvious one really.

Incidentally this reminds me - I once had a LONG conversation about "Biscuit Teleporting Modems" way back when I first started work in 1993 with, although I didn't realise it at the time, some very senior business leaders 😆   I even had a formal project request to develop them.    Sadly, I couldn't get past Heisenberg's uncertainty principle - not the famous one regarding quantum superposition, no the one by old Granny Heisenberg on how long a biscuit should be cooked for - should it be crunchy or soft..  ?

Anyway - where was I?

5.   Sandcastles

Got a child with a sand pit?  Yeah - have a new sand castle bucket. 

If it's a big, flat one, it'll make an excellent castle 'base' or perhaps you could combine the big flat one and a smaller one to make a sand GCHQ.

Or just use it to keep all those small sand moulding things in that always get lost or fall out of bags.

6.  Deeper paint tray

Whether it's poster paint for kids, or painting a wall, put the paint pot in one of the tubs and it won't spill all over the table when you accidentally knock it over.

I reckon that qualifies as an actual LifeHack!

7.   Plant pot / mini garden

Make holes it the bottom, fill it with soil and plant plants in it.
Use the lid as a saucer underneath so that the water doesn't go everywhere when you water the plants.

When I was young (about 10,000 years ago) we used to make mini gardens like this with crazy-paving paths made out of tiny stones, fences made out of lolly sticks and trees which were often dandelions.  We also used to put creatures in the gardens - woodlice and snails mostly.   The mini-gardens stayed outside, and we were always disappointed when the visitors had gone by the next day.