Is the weather dark and dreary? That doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for next year’s garden. Even if the weather is cold and unpredictable, you can start collecting sprouting containers from your household waste. These upcycled containers will be ready to use when you get your seeds started in the spring.

Growing from seed is much more affordable than buying plants, so it’s a good idea to make that a priority in your planning. One of the best ways to get your seeds started early is to sprout them indoors. You can get an expensive setup at your local gardening shop, or you can upcycle things that you likely already have laying around your house. Let’s look at the upcycling options.

Here are five ideas for making your own DIY upcycled seed starters:

Keurig K-Cups

If you live an eco-friendly lifestyle, the thought of using disposable K-Cups for your morning cup of Joe may abhor you. However, if you secretly love your Keurig and want to figure out a more environmentally sound way to reuse those tiny plastic cups, they make great seed starters. The hole that punched in the bottom of them during brewing is perfect for soil drainage too.

Zinnia seedlings
Zinnia seedlings in an egg carton. Image courtesy of Erin Murray.

Egg Cartons

At many farmer’s markets, you can return the egg cartons directly to the farmer. However, you may not want to do that just yet. Egg cartons make the perfect seed starters. You can get 12 or 18 plants going in one tiny space. Anyone can find room to keep an egg carton in their home while the tiny seeds sprout.

Toilet Paper Rolls

When you use the last square of toilet paper, there’s no need to toss the cardboard tube. Using a simple technique, you can turn one toilet paper roll into two biodegradable seed pots. Just cut the toilet paper roll in half, then make slits in the bottom so you can fold it into the shape of a pot.

Juice Boxes

You might try to keep it as eco-friendly as possible at home, but once you send the kids off to school, there are some disposable items that make life easier. Juice boxes are one of those items.

Instead of tossing juice, ask your kids to bring them home each day. They’ll learn a valuable re-use lesson and, after just a few weeks, you’ll have a nice collection that’s perfect for starting seeds in.

You can either cut the tops off as in this tutorial or cut them in half depending upon how big they are.


At first glance, the newspaper may not appear sturdy enough to hold a growing seedling. However, this tutorial demonstrates a great way to mold newspaper into the shape of a cup. Newspaper is also a great choice in general for gardening because it can double as compostable material.

Pretty much anything you find around the house that would otherwise be trash can be used to start seeds as long as you can punch some drainage holes in it.

Feature image courtesy of Candy Tale

Editor’s note: Originally published on June 19, 2015, this article was updated in October 2018.

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.