Heave DIY: Rack-et Science


One thing I’m really looking forward to about moving out of my parents’ house is having the opportunity to overhaul my closet.

My shoes are squashed, my stack of pants is falling over and the bulky plastic hangers I’ve had since childhood are a nuisance. Flat velour hangers are the way to go. The form takes up less space than rounded plastic and blocky wood, and the material keeps even the silkiest of synthetic fabrics in place.

But I can’t just throw out my old hangers. According to Gary Barker, president and CEO of sustainable product development and manufacturing company GreenHeart Global, most of the plastic hangers that arrive in stores with clothing manufactured overseas make their way to a dumpster.

“The landfilled waste they create world-wide would fill 4.6 Empire State Buildings each and every year,” Barker said. “The annually trashed 8 billion invisible plastic and metal hangers entering out municipal waste stream are now becoming a very dire issue.”

Unfortunately, I can’t recycle them either. Barker explains that wire hooks are known to jam the equipment in recycling facilities and completely stop processing lines.

“The typical plastic-and-wire hanger can consist of seven different types of low-grade plastics, difficult if not impossible to identify on a rapidly moving recycling line,” Barker said. “The materials are so low-grade it’s often not worth the time and trouble to separate them, so they’re universally banned.”

The 3.5 billion all-metal hangers that dry cleaners use yearly are equally detrimental, and the chemicals that most wooden hangers are treated with make them unrecyclable as well. So, donating them seems like the best option.

But I’d rather repurpose in a way that helps me keep my dream closet organized. One wooden hanger can become a rack to hold your keys and accessories in just minutes.


-wooden hanger
-masking tape
-acrylic paint
-5+ thick nails

Time: 15 minutes plus drying time

1) Measure the length of the wooden portion of the hanger to determine how many nails you can place at 1.5-inch intervals. Mark their locations.

2) Hammer in the nails. Hit them like you mean it! If you baby-tap one into place, it’ll fall out as soon as you begin hammering the next one.

3) Wrap tape diagonally between the nails, covering the front, top and sides of the wood.

4) Paint the uncovered areas and nails and let the rack dry for about 30 minutes. Then, remove the tape, find a spot on the wall and hang up your new accessories rack.


Use ribbon tape, such as this one by Martha Stewart Crafts, for a different textural quality and zero drying time.

Paint the hanger a solid color and let it dry. Add the nails and then apply tape and paint on stripes in a contrasting color. Or, cut the project time in half by not painting it at all.