13 Clever Ways To Repurpose Your Empty Ice Cream Tubs This Summer

If you grew up with, let's say, thrifty parents, there's a good chance that they never threw out their old ice cream tubs. While this may have seemed ridiculous as a child, repurposing ice cream tubs is a fantastic way to give them a second life, especially as more of us try to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing, reusing, and recycling. 

For most of these ice cream tub hacks, you'll want a fairly sturdy tub to work with; either plastic or firm cardboard is ideal. You'll also want to thoroughly clean all of them, no matter what you're using them for. If you reuse them for food storage, you don't want residual sweet flavors coming out. Plus, even if it's just for storage and organizing, who wants to fish around for items in a sticky container at best, and one that can attract mold and pests at worst? Don't toss these in the dishwasher, even the plastic ones, as this can damage the tub. Before repurposing an ice cream container, simply give it a thorough wash with warm and soapy water, and allow it to dry completely. Then, you're ready to repurpose it in one of the following clever hacks.

Homemade bird feeders

Want to attract feathered friends to your yard? Turn your old ice cream cartons into DIY bird feeders. Fill the tub with gravel, cement, pebbles, etc. to weigh the tub down and keep it from falling over. That way, you also don't have to fill the whole thing with bird feed, which the birds can't reach at the bottom. When it's almost filled, add a tray full of nectar or birdseed and punch beak-sized holes in the lid. Then, hot glue it onto the tub just in case it does get knocked over to prevent birdseed from flying everywhere. 

Put all those scrubbers in the same place

Take a look under your sink. Do you see a whole lot of lone sponges, scouring pads, and other scrubbers hanging out in there? And worse, can you never seem to find the one you're looking for during your cleaning routine? These often come in nothing more than a flimsy cardboard box or thin plastic wrap, so they scatter easily. Add these guys to an ice cream tub for easy cleaning organization. Store them all together if you only have a few of each, or by scrubber type with a few more tubs. 

DIY planters for free

Ice cream pints are perfect planters for shallow-rooted and small plants such as herbs, succulents, or small flowering plants. You don't need to do much to transform them into a little plant home aside from adding soil. Unlike ceramic or stone planters, you can easily add drainage holes to ice cream tubs with scissors or a knife. If the tub is a little light, you can add a layer of pebbles to weigh it down, which also helps with drainage.

On-hand ice packs

Fill your empty ice cream tubs with water and freeze them to make homemade ice packs and cubes. Then, pop them out and use them to line a cooler, soothe sore muscles in case of injury, or make oversized flavored ice cubes to put in a punch bowl at your next summer barbecue. 

Customize a first aid box

When was the last time you took inventory of your first aid kit? That is, if you even have one. The thing is, you don't need to go out and get a little plastic briefcase to fit the bill, and by using an ice cream bin as your first aid kit, you can customize it and make sure it's full of the supplies you need. We recommend marking it with a red cross or other signifier so it's clearly marked. Make sure it's filled with bandages, antiseptic, and the usual first aid accouterments. You should also add an emergency supply of your prescribed medications. 

Recycle your recycling

Although there are plastic recycling bags that are technically recyclable, they are still plastic, and you still have to buy them. If you have a plastic ice cream bucket, use it to store recyclable materials. When it's full, just take it to the recycling bin or center, dump it, and go. You can just rinse the bucket if anything spills in the process, and it will be like new! Some plastic ice cream tubs can even be recycled, depending on your local recycling systems. 

When in doubt, make it pretty

As you can already see in this list, there's no shortage of ways to use ice cream tubs for DIYs, but don't sleep on the possibilities of the lid either. As seen in this DIY craft, a bit of ribbon and a tinsel-wrapped handle make for a darling decorative basket. This would be perfect as a catch-all tray for things like keys, mail, or sunglasses. We also think these shallow baskets are perfectly pretty for flower girl baskets and will help you save a few bucks on one of the most expensive days of your life. 

Make savings fun with a piggy bank

If you or a little one have a hard time keeping track of loose change, you should try making a DIY piggy bank out of your old ice cream containers. Pints or gallons will work perfectly, depending on your saving goals. You can leave the container as is and simply superglue the lid down (to prevent early withdrawals) and cut a coin-sized slot into the lid with a knife, screwdriver, or scissors — but if you or your kiddo love a good craft activity, you can always dress it up with some ribbon, sequins, paint, or whatever else you have on hand. 

Go green with a rainwater collector

Not in the mood to pick up the hot glue gun or drill to repurpose your ice cream bucket? Enjoy a DIY-free hack and turn that large ice cream tub into a rainwater collecting bucket. Just put it in the yard during a storm and then use the reserved water to quench thirsty plants. This saves you money by not tapping into your household water. But be warned, some areas prohibit rainwater collection due to local water system laws. Check out whether it's legal in your area before placing your ice cream bucket outside. 

DIY baby's first drum kit

If there's one universal truth, it's that kids will turn just about anything into a drum kit. Help them out by painting your old ice cream pints and attaching the lid with hot glue. This makes for a great toy that will keep little ones occupied for hours and will save your beloved Le Creuset from facing major wear and tear as a bass drum. If you want to add a little extra sound to the drums, slip a torn balloon over the lid with elastics. Crochet hooks, chopsticks, or cardboard spoons are perfect drumsticks for this ice cream kit. 

Pack an eco-friendly sand castle kit

It seems like every beach trip with kids requires buying some cheap bucket of sandcastle-making tools that will inevitably break, be lost in the sand, or be a pain to pack home. Instead, just use your old ice cream tubs — this works for all types of containers: plastic, cardboard, or whatever. Use larger buckets as the base of your castle, then use pints and mini ice cream cups to add towers and detailing. Stack them up and take them home with you, or recycle them at the end of the beach day. 

Try your hand at composting

You've likely heard about the myriad of benefits at-home composting can bring to your garden, but getting started can be tricky. Take step one to learn how to compost by turning your next empty ice cream tub into a composting bin. Most are small enough that they can live on a table or countertop and even have a perfect-fitting lid, which is ideal for masking some of the less-than-lovely odors that come with saving food scraps for fertilizer, like coffee grounds, banana peels, and fish heads. 

Give your tissue box an upgrade

Tissue boxes are one of those things you always want in arms reach, but might not love seeing laid out on every perfectly decorated end table and nightstand. The cheesily designed cardboard boxes are hardly aesthetically pleasing. So, make a tissue box that's totally unique to your tastes with a spent ice cream tub. Paint, decoupaging, and a few strands of faux jewels are all you need to make a stunning one-of-a-kind tissue holder.