How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Crafts

Written by marianne luke
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How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Crafts
Reusing old items for new crafts reduces waste and pollution. (John Keatley/Lifesize/Getty Images)

"Reduce, reuse, recycle" is the hierarchy of waste reduction. You reduce waste and pollution when you consume fewer resources and select more durable and nontoxic products. You reuse by choosing items that don't get thrown away after one use, and you recycle when you make something old into something new and useful. Reduce, reuse and recycle can also be applied in crafts to teach kids not to waste and to help them re-examine what they might think of as trash.

Plastic and Glass Bottles

Plastic and glass bottles are commonly used and thrown away after one use, but there are many crafts that can be made with them. Paint a creative design on a plastic bottle with acrylic paint, or paint a design on a glass bottle with a mix of white glue and acrylic paint. Fill the bottle halfway with water and add fresh flowers to turn your bottle into a vase. Bottles can also be used for sand art with coloured sand. You can make a bubble blower, by cutting your plastic bottle about 4 inches from the top, dipping the wide end of your top piece in a solution of dish soap and water, and blowing through the mouthpiece to create a large bubble.

Paper Towel and Toilet Paper Tubes

Paper towel and toilet paper tubes can used in several different crafts, such as turning the tubes into animal and people sculptures. DK Kids has templates for a variety of possible sculptures. You can make spy binoculars from toilet paper rolls by taping two together. Or make a rain stick by painting a design on a paper towel roll: cap one end by taping it with a piece of construction paper; cut a 6-inch sheet of aluminium foil and twist it into the shape of two different coils or springs; insert the foil along with dried beans or rice into the tube; and then cap the other end of the tube.

Aluminium Cans

Aluminium cans can be washed and made into something useful. Cut off the top with a can opener, turn the can upside-down and wrap yarn around your can, gluing it as you go. When your can is completely wrapped with yarn, glue on some sequins, glitter, pebbles or shells for decoration. The decorated can could be used as a pencil holder. Can crafts might also be holiday-themed. Make a Halloween lantern out of an aluminium can by painting a Jack-o-lantern on the can, cutting off the top --- adult supervision is necessary --- and placing a candle at the bottom. Punch holes around the eyes, nose and mouth, so that light penetrates through the can at these points. Punch holes on either side at the top, and wrap wire through for a holder.

Paper Products

One of the easiest ways to recycle old magazines is to make a collage: use a scrap piece of cardboard for the base and cut out inspiring pictures from a magazine. You can either create an object-themed collage, such as dogs, travel or music, or create a collage that represent you: where you've been, what you like and your personality. With white glue or rubber cement, glue overlapping pictures until the entire cardboard is covered. You can also create a mosaic with old magazines by cutting out small pieces of the magazine and organising them by colour. Or make your own image with the colourful pieces. Or make a paper bag kite by painting a large paper bag, punching holes on each side of the bag and tying a strong string to each hole; tie all four strings together and connect them with a long string; tape paper streamers to the bottom of the bag. It will catch wind and fly.

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