Just call me “Garbage Girl”. I ended up getting close and personal with my trash can as I attempted to freshen up it’s dated and dreary look with a makeover. Yes, a trash can transformation. My first attempts met with major failures but with another design plan it ended up turning out great. And I was quite excited, too because it was my FIRST chevron. Yes, I’ve officially climbed on that zig zag chevron bandwagon and I’m loving it.
Here is the sad little trash can in my master bathroom that has been in constant use and abuse for years. It was a High School graduation gift from my grandparents. It came with a matching tote bag. I used the bag all the time but it ended up getting ruined while on an airplane. Another passenger spilled his very full drink (unknown to me) all over the bag. Apparently, the rose design couldn’t get wet. I wasn’t aware of this until I left the plane and discovered my bag and contents soaked and stained with the ink from the design. (Great trip!)
Despite looking shabby (and not in a good way) the cabbage roses on the garbage can weren’t exactly the look I was going for. So instead of “trashing” the whole can I decided to just give it a makeover.
The inside was all rusty so I cleaned it out and then sprayed it with Rustoleum Textured Bronze. It turned out just fine. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the smooth after–just the rusty before.)
Design plan number 1:
I primed the outside with Kilz primer and had my first hint that my design vision would have to be altered. Originally, my plan was to paint it white and stencil a design on the outside. The old rose fabric on the can was smooth when dry but after I sprayed the primer it developed a very nappy texture almost like sandpaper. Even if I sanded it down it still would be too rough and the wrong finish for the stencil.
Design plan number 2:
With the nappy texture I had the brilliant idea of painting the outside with the same brown textured paint I used on the inside. I was envisioning a suede effect. The old rose fabric had other ideas and after many coats the outside resembled anything but suede. Plus, by this time I also remembered the design rule of not painting anything brown that you’ll be using in a bathroom. Self explanatory.
Design plan number 3: Cover the mess with fabric and some spray adhesive. (Why didn’t I do this in the first place?) I found a simple white and grey chevron patterned fabric at Hobby Lobby. It was the very first time that I brought the very trendy chevron into my home. All I did was lightly spray Elmer’s Spray Adhesive on one side of the can and then wrapped the fabric around it and then the other side. I took a razor blade around the top and bottom rim to cut a clean edge. That’s it. What ended up being two whole days of frustration was solved in a matter of minutes. And I love the final result. (Although, it has made me want to redo my whole master bathroom now. Go figure.) So what about you? Are you a fan of chevron or does the zig zag leave you dizzy?
In this section I wanted to address an issue that I also took a closer look at on this article on how I gave a nice old window frame some new and deserved life. Unfortunately there's a situation that is unknown to a lot of people when they are doing DIY or when they are giving old things new purpose.
There is a reason why you make sure that you're putting on a seat beat as you're driving your car - you want to make sure that the action you're engaging in is in fact as safe as it is supposed to be.
However, unfortunately, that is not the case for a lot of people doing DIY projects. Believe me, there are a lot of problematic materials out there that you may have been exposed to, but when you start repurposing old things, the risk increases significantly.
Did you know that there was legislation passed in both 1978 and 1992 that was detrimental to the lowering of people's exposure to the potentially dangerous substance, lead? Yes, that's right. Before 1978, there was only very limited protection against the damaging heavy metal that would end up playing a big and devastating role in the lives of the many families exposed to the material.
This dangerous material isn't just a thing of the past, but it is also a thing that you ought to be concerning yourself with now as there are still many homes around that have this dangerous metal both in the paint on the walls, as well as in various objects inside your home, and the old trash can that you dug out of a yard sale may just be one of them.
While laws were enacted in the period from 1971 to 1973 that limited the amount of lead that was allowed in various paints, it never in fact got rid of the problem, nor does it mean that the items that were made prior to the institution of the lowered limits would magically be without the lead paint that they previously contained, and as a consequence, it is easy to see yourself ending up in a situation where a supposedly harmless DIY project turns into a trip to the ER.
Yes, acute exposure to lead can definitely be something that puts you in the hospital if you aren't careful, and even more worryingly, it could not just be something that impacts you now, but also something that impacts you later on. While some of the symptoms may include a stomach ache or some irritability, significant lead exposure could additionally lead to a failure of your kidneys, which you may in fact not be able to survive.
Did you think these described symptoms are bad? Choose to disregard these warnings and you could be putting your child in significantly greater danger of suffering from the many side effects of lead exposure including developmental delay, and all the side effects that adults will experience as well.
These are not symptoms to simply take lightly if you ask me, why the proposed solution is always to make sure that you get the various objects tested for the presence of lead, especially if you are the least bit concerned that the object was either originally imported from abroad, or if you suspect that the trash can was made before the year 1992.
Luckily the solution is relatively simple, and while it does add a couple of dollars worth of costs to your DIY repurposing project, it is still a heck of a lot better than it is to end up finding yourself with acute lead poisoning, with the consequences of lead exposure being irreversible. If you suddenly start sanding down an old trash can thinking you're going to repurpose it so that it can get new life, without knowing there's lead in it, you're suddenly releasing a sky of lead dust in the air.
And without the proper respirator to protect you against it, a lot of this dust will be going down your airways, entering your body where it will be stored and remain.
Yes, there is a very good reason why these substances have been as heavily regulated as they have been , and while you would perhaps think that side effects as severe as some of the ones I discussed would have meant that it is now absolutely impossible to be exposed to the material, there are in fact still places where you could be exposed to lead paint, even some that has been painted very recently as well.
The good thing you should know is that there should generally not be damaging lead levels in consumer goods that were produced in the United States after the year of 1992, but it's not quite as easy as that to make sure what year a given product was produced in.
And if it was imported from a foreign country, there is also a significant risk that it contains lead levels higher than the permissible levels. Did you know that the government has an entire webpage dedicated to product recalls, many of which are due to excess lead levels, and that there are still products being recalled to this day because they are either released to the public without having been properly tested, or because they were found to not comply with a safety standard.
Yes, there are still children's toys that will end up being manufactured and sold to American consumers only to be recalled a year or two later when they're found to be dangerous, while having had the chance to expose potentially hundreds of thousands of consumers to whatever it is that they're containing.
While the best possible thing you could do would be to get something like an XRF testing machine, the second best solution is to get one of the consumer test kits made by 3M that will allow you to test the paint in a matter of less than a minute, which will give you peace of mind, while only costing you roughly $3 for a test.
Even if you aren't too excited by the project that I made, there are a bunch of other ways that you can use an old trash can so as to make sure that you aren't contributing to the "throw it out" culture. Perhaps you may even end up creating a functional piece that stays in your family for a long time.
When you start letting your mind run in interesting directions, there is almost no limitation as to what such an old household object can be turned into. That is, at least assuming that you manage to get rid of its smell. If you're trying to repurpose a trash can, the last thing that you want is that the bad smell still lingers.
Throwing out an old trash can would be a shame if it could still be made to have a function. The size of the trash can will obviously play a role in the possibilities of what you are able to use it for, but if you use a little bit of creativity, I am sure you are able to come up with additional and interesting ideas that I probably never even covered when I was brainstorming.
If you have a small bathroom container left over, you will inherently end up thinking of different purposes compared to if you were to have one of those large rolling bins. Luckily I liked the size of the one that I had and it wasn't a big contained that I was left to figure out what to do with. To be honest, I am not even sure what would have been my first move in trying to get rid of the smell that seems to haunt those big plastic containers no matter how well you try and clean them.
Should I use it as a planter?
I was kind of thinking of whether or not it would be a good idea to use the old trash can as a planter, however, then I started thinking about the additional problems associated with potential rust, which I didn't want to have to deal with. Although, I did manage to think through the project before entirely disregarding the idea. I was thinking about the need to create a hole at the bottom of the container and perhaps either planting potatoes or root vegetables in it, while preserving the rustic feel that the unedited trash can had.
Another interest of mine was also whether its best use would rather be to serve as a compost bin and really start taking our families activities in a more sustainable direction. Up until this point, I have always purchased the soil that we use for various projects, although I have always found the idea of making our own soil very compelling. It would even be an interesting project in itself to start figuring out what the best practices are when it comes to composting. What are the components that definitely can be composted and which trash cannot?