Do you ever find yourself spending a little too long in the trash line at the Ratty? Have you ever had to run down to your dorm's recycling room while trying to avoid bumping into other humans because you're wearing pajamas? Have you ever told yourself that you will collapse your Amazon box as soon as the package arrives, but five months later that still hasn't happened?

Now, you don’t have to begrudgingly answer yes to these questions! Buy “upcycling" today! And for a limited time offer, you can buy three “upcyclings” for the price of two.

If the cheesy infomercial didn't sell you on upcycling, then imagine how awesome it would be to recycle your trash or unused possessions into useful products or beautiful art. Upcycling is exactly that: the process of creating a new product out of an old and unused item. It may involve turning an antique door into a coffee table, or an unpaired sock into a stuffed animal. Here are some fun ways you can use upcycling to decorate your dorm room using everyday products from the dining halls.

1) Turn old bottle caps into a collage

Caps are thrown away more than one may think. From old laundry detergent tops, to water bottle lids, to toothpaste covers, caps come from so many products we use daily. In fact, in the United States alone, people throw away 35 billion bottle caps each year, which makes up a significant portion of the 8 to 12 million tons of plastic that ends up in our oceans annually.

Instead of throwing these caps away, collect them, and encourage your family and friends to do so as well. Pretty soon, you'll have a colorful assortment of caps — all with different shapes and sizes — that make the perfect “tile” for a quirky and bright mosaic. Besides caps, you will need a slab of wood (which you may wish to paint, depending on the mosaic you would like to create) and hot glue. The only step is to glue your caps onto the slab in any pattern you wish.

One good tip to keep in mind is to first sort your caps by color. This way, you can work with an organized “palette” of caps. In the end, you'll have a one-of-a-kind piece of art to hang in your dorm. Your mosaic can recreate beautiful scenery, such as the ocean or a tropical island, as seen in the pictures above. The example below is a recreation of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, beautiful enough to make van Gogh himself jealous of your craft! 

2) Transform straws into art that POPs off the wall

Everyday, people in the United States use 500 million straws. We only use these products for an average of 20 minutes before throwing them out, yet their damage can last much longer. Straws cannot be recycled because most contain a dangerous chemical called BPA, and so most end up in the ocean. Turtles, for example, often confuse straws for food, and try to eat ones they come across. If these are not consumed immediately, straws in the ocean eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces, making them more likely to be accidentally ingested by marine life.

In fact, research estimates that by 2050, 99 percent of birds living in marine habitats will have eaten plastic. One of the best (and easiest!) things to do to prevent these appalling projections from becoming a reality is to stop using straws, or to switch to reusable straws.

Of course, not every restaurant or beverage vendor will know about the harmful effects of straws, and as a result may automatically hand you a drink with a straw. If you receive straws, collect them to prevent them from ending up in the ocean, and use them to make an innovative piece of art: the straw collage. 

There are two ways you can create straw collages. The first is by laying the straws flat. As one can see in the example below, the linear shape of the straws creates a cool geometric effect, while the straws' cylindrical element adds an appealing and unique texture.

Here are some good steps to follow for making the first type of straw mosaic:

1) Collect and wash straws. If your straws came from sticky beverages, you may choose to soak your straws in warm, soapy water.

2) Draw a background image onto a blank cardboard or wood canvas. You can even print out an image and glue it onto the base, as your straws will cover the image in the end. If your reference image is in black and white, label the colors that you want in each region.

3) Sort your straws by colors. If you want more of one kind of straw color but less of another, feel free to paint your straws!

4) Pick one region on your reference image on the wood or cardboard background. I recommend picking a corner region rather than the middle to start off with. Gather your straws that correlate with the color of this region. Starting from the edge of the region, lay your straw parallel to the edge and cut it to the height of the region. Then, glue your straw down using hot glue. After this, take another straw and lay it right next to the first straw, and then glue it down. Continue to follow this step until the entire region is filled with the desired color. Then, move onto the next.

5) After all the regions on your reference picture are filled, enjoy your beautiful straw mosaic by hanging it in your dorm to show off to all your friends!

The second method results in the collage having a 3D effect, as you point the straws out at the viewer. This choice will allow the art to ~pop~ off your dorm wall, giving your room another cool dimension.

In order to complete the second straw mosaic, follow these steps:

1) Follow steps 1 to 3 given to make the first straw mosaic design by washing your straws, sorting them by color, and choosing a reference image with a clear distinction between regions of colors.

2) Next, pick a region on your reference image, preferably a corner edge, and collect the straws that correlate with the color of this region. On the top edge of the region, hot glue your first straw to the board, ensuring that the straw is vertical rather than lying flat on the board. You might need a significant helping of hold glue to retain the balance of the first straw.

Going directly down or directly to the side of your first straw, position your next straw. This time, you will not only want to hot glue the straw to the board, but you will want to hot glue the straw to the one next to it. To do so, simply squeeze a line of hot glue onto the side of the straw. Next, put a dot of hot glue on the board where you wish to place the next straw. Then, stick the straw vertically onto this dot, while squeezing the straw, with the glued side, to the previously placed straw. Continue to add straws, ensuring that they are glued not only to the board but to the surrounding straws, until your region is filled.

3) After you have completed all regions, show off your super cool POP art!

In the example provided above, all the straws are the same length, but one cool tip is to cut the straws to different lengths to bring your 3D design to life, as seen below.

Whichever design you choose, you will need a wooden slab (which again you may wish to paint), a collection of straws, scissors to cut the straws to the desired lengths, and hot glue to glue the straws to the background. You can also be creative and make art without a background. Perhaps make a statue out of straws, which have the perfect malleable texture to create a detailed figure, while being sturdy enough to hold the shape of the sculpture.

3) Create a beautiful mirror border out of spoons

Spoons are magical utensils that allow us to consume ice cream in a socially acceptable manner (if I could claw at it straight, I probably would). Yet, disposable spoons are also made of plastic that ends up crowding our landfills and meandering into our oceans. As is seen above, cutting down on the amount of plastic we throw away helps preserve animals' health. But the amount of plastic we throw away affects humans, too.

Right now, 94 percent of US tap water contains plastic. Imagine drinking the plastic cup along with the water it contains - pretty gross, right? And so, instead of throwing plastic spoons away, collect them! Their unique shape resembles that of a flower petal and can be used to create a flower-patterned border.

To make spoon art, all you need is a collection of plastic spoons, hot glue, a wood or cardboard background (cut into a circle), and a mundane home item, such as a circular mirror or cut-out picture, to be the flower's center. 

1) Trace your circular center onto the center of your background, so that you have a reference for the size of your flower.

2) Cut off the handles of the spoons (save these handles for another upcycling project!). Using hot glue, attach the spoons (or petals) all the way around the circle you previously traced onto the circular base.

3) Continue to glue the spoons in concentric circles until the entire background is filled.

4) Finally, attach your centerpiece (either your mirror or your picture) to the center of the spoon flower. And voilà! — all those late night trips to Ben & Jerry’s will finally pay off with a beautiful creation. 

One possibility is to create an ombre pattern with the spoon "petals," in which each circle of spoons gets lighter and lighter. If you choose to accomplish this pattern using paint, make sure to avoid spray paint, as aerosol cans often use harmful gasses and chemicals that contribute to global warming.

These three ideas will help you create beautiful dorm decorations out of products that you would have otherwise thrown away. By upcycling, you can keep plastic out of the ocean while saving money on supplies for art projects. Best of all, pretty soon you will be on the same HGTV goddess level as Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper, or Hilary Farr from Love It or List It!

And, though these ideas are a great start, the possibilities for upcycling are endless. You never know — the statue that eventually replaces Blueno could be a duck with a flashlight in its head made out of plastic water bottles!