In addition to the three Rs of sustainability -- reduce, reuse, recycle -- there is now a U word gaining popularity with the green-thinking crafting crowd: upcycle. Upcycling is the act of taking something that most people would consider trash and turning it into something useful or beautiful. You can upcycle old sweater cuffs to become hot drink sleeves, egg cartons are transformed into doll furniture. With a little imagination, you can upcycle anything, including plastic syringe tubes.
Create a snowflake. Take six syringe tubes, paint a thin layer of glue onto the outside, and cover with glitter. When dry, use a small nail and a hammer to carefully poke a hole in each side of the base. Use pieces of pipe cleaner or other wire poked through those holes to string the syringe tubes together into a circle. Tie a piece of string or ribbon to one of your pipe cleaner connectors for hanging.
Make a wind chime. This is a great craft to do with kids. Cut the tips and bases off several syringe tubes and poke holes near one end of the remaining tube. Have the kids decorate five or six tubes each with paint, covering the numbers completely. Poke small holes in a circular pattern in a plastic container lid, like a butter tub lid, and have the children paint or decorate that also. Thread a length of fishing line through the holes in the tubes and also through the holes in the plastic lid. Poke two more holes in the lid to tie a length of fishing line for a hanger. Hang the wind chime where the wind will make the syringe tubes click together.
Blast off with a rocket. Paint the syringe tube to resemble a rocket -- silver or white. Add small stickers like an American flag or rocket flames. Little kids will have fun with their new rocket for hours.
Before working with the outer plastic tubes, carefully remove and dispose of any needles, and wash the outer tubes in a solution of 1 cup bleach per gallon of water to remove any medication or bodily fluids.