Handbag Reboot: 3 Ways to Upcycle Old Purses

Reader Contribution by Julia Marchand
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When trying to leave as little impact on the Earth as possible, discarding one’s belongings becomes a creative conundrum. We know that simply tossing a handbag into the landfill, for example, will cause problems down the road — so what are our other options?

If the condition of the bag is still good enough to be used for its original function, donating it to Goodwill or giving it to someone else to use are great options.

What about a purse, though, that has an irreparable hole or an unsightly permanent stain? Try upcycling it instead! Here are some ideas for giving new life to your old handbags.

Hanging Planter

Houseplants improve the quality of your air by filtering toxins and turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. A frequent problem for parents and pet owners, though, is keeping plants out of reach of little hands or paws. Rather than seeing potted plants spilled across the floor or having toxic leaves ingested, hanging them up high allows a dwelling to benefit from the advantages of greenery without posing a risk.

Any shoulder or cross-body bag will work wonderfully for this purpose. Simply settle an already potted plant into a bag of the same size and hang it where kids and pets can’t reach.

Using a bag instead of a flimsy plastic planter brings added texture and longevity to your arrangement — plus, you don’t have to go out and buy a new hanging planter!


For any small, strapped handbag, draping it on your front door handle will create the perfect space for an outbox. Slip in anything you need to remember to bring with you the next time you leave the house.

Bills paid on a Sunday that will go out Monday morning — check! Things you’ve borrowed that need to go back to their owner — check! Even daily necessities like your keys and wallet can find a new home here, and since it’s right on the doorknob, you won’t forget to peek in when you leave.

Large clutches can work for this purpose, too, if you add your own strap. Grab an old belt, sturdy ribbon, or anything else you can turn into a strap and affix it securely inside the bag. Now you’ve saved your clutch from the trash, and you’ve rescued another timeworn item, too.

Pillow Cover

Do you have a soft purse with a broken strap? Remove the strap altogether and turn the bag into a pillow cover instead.

Leather sofas are coming back in vogue, so one easy way to get that look without contributing to the industry would be to turn a faux leather handbag like this one into a pillow.

Any frumpy-style purse will do. Just search for a pillow insert to fit or, better yet, create your own pillow stuffing from fabric scraps of discarded clothing, towels, sheets, etc. Not only are you improving your space, but you’re extending the use of your belongings and keeping them out of the landfill, too. Just settle your pillow onto the couch with the zipper/closure side down and no one will know about its secret double life.

Since the functionality of bags is so versatile, they can really be used for a bevy of purposes even after they’ve been retired from their lives as a fashion accessory. Try one of these three ideas or come up with your own.

Do you need a kindling caddy? A dingy old purse will be perfect. A garden tool carrier? Use a bag with lots of big pockets. The possibilities are endless when you put your imagination to work.

Julia Marchand loves inspiring others to embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle, especially when it involves sharing upcycling tips. She writes about sustainable habits for, where you can findsecond-hand handbags to repurpose.

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