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I love to reuse, or upcycle our things before we throw them away, and I need your help with these coolers.  

This is one of the may times I really miss my dad who passed away last year.  He had an amazing ability to see potential everywhere!  He was upcycling before upcycle was even a word.  A mound of dirt in his hands became a fun Hobbit house for the grand kids to play in.  He loved to think of the many possibilities that everything from an old bookshelf, to a pile of rocks held.

My dad had a wonderful, childlike enthusiasm about giving a new life to something that didn’t have a purpose.  I know he would have a big smile and a twinkle in his eye at the chance to upcycle the coolers I receive each month to transport my medicine.  I see the potential for these and I want to honor my dad’s legacy by doing something fun and useful with them but I am having a hard time deciding what to do.  I can’t describe how much I want to ask my dad what he would do. When I look at these hard styrofoam coolers, I can clearly see the twinkle in his eye and he joy he would have in the untapped possibilities of ways to upcycle.

So, I am asking all of you to help me.  I will be receiving these coolers every month for the foreseeable future and they can’t just fill up the land fills.  Please help me make my dad proud by finding something, or things, to do with them that would be creative and useful.

How would you upcycle this cooler

With the lid on, the cooler measures 19 1/2″ wide x 15″ deep x 13″ tall.  

Our Ideas to Upcycle the Styrofoam Coolers:

  1. Ottomans with storage –  The idea that I keep thinking about is to turn these coolers into small storage ottomans.  Their dimensions are right to be a small ottoman and the cold storage possibilities would make them useful in the game room/ man cave.  I’m just not sure how to cover them or what to cover them with so that they look good.  Any thoughts?
  2. Keepsake Boxes – Another good suggestion I have gotten is to upcycle them by decoupaging them and making them pretty keep sake boxes for my kids and to give as gifts.  Not being especially crafty myself, I don’t know if this would work.  Can you decoupage styrofoam?
  3. Storage for our White Water Rafting Trips – These coolers are tough and fairly durable and they should float so I thought about using them for storage for keys, wallets, drinks, and snacks, etc.  My concern would be how to make them water proof.  Is that possible?
  4. A Camp Seat/Cooler – The last thought we have is to somehow pad the top and make it a camp seat and cooler combo for when we are camping or at the lake.  That would be practical for us because seating is always an issue and anything that can multitask is great when we are packing to go camping.  I’m not sure how to pad the top.

Clearly I have ideas but not the knowledge to carry them out.  I would really appreciate any other ideas or suggestions for how to carry out the ideas I have.  These coolers are not garbage.  I know my dad could have transformed them into something wonderful.  Please help me upcycle them in a way that would make my dad proud.

** Update: I made these really nice little planter boxes out of my styrofoam coolers and I love them! They are light and easy to bring inside! They also make great mother’s day gifts!

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Posted by Frugal Mommy

Hi I’m Heather, a busy, happy and very frugal mom of 8 amazing kids! My journey to become a mom of 8 has been a bumpy one that has included infertility, being a foster parent, adoption, and special needs parenting. I share the things I've learned raising my big unique family.


  1. A quick and easy way to recycle plastic bottles is to repurpose your bottle as a soap bottle. All you need is a twist-on soap dispenser spout and any empty bottle can be used this way.


  2. I would use them for camping or any water activity/storage. I love how you are doing this in memory of your dad!
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    1. Thank you! And thanks for the great ideas!


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