Trash to treasure crafts

Written by ann johnson
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Trash to treasure crafts
There may be a treasure hiding in the dustbin. (Wire Dustbin image by Julie F from

Craft enthusiasts see trash differently than others. Before tossing an item into the dustbin, the creative individual imagines the possibility of the disposable item. Reusing, rather than tossing, everyday items in craft projects gives them new life and is a form of recycling. When recycling trash to treasure, avoid materials exposed to toxic substances, which includes items salvaged from a public trash receptacle.

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When you can't recycle newspaper, don't simply add the old papers to the dustbin. The same is true for documents you have put through the paper shredder. In both instances, turn the trash into a treasure by using the material in a paper mache project. Dip strips of torn newspaper into a paper mache glue mixture or make a paper mache pulp by blending shredded paper with a glue mixture. The material, when added to a surface, will harden. Create a piggy bank or piñata by covering an inflated balloon with paper mache. Craft bracelets by covering empty masking tape rolls with paper mache, or get ambitious and create sculptures or pieces of furniture.

Trash to treasure crafts
Many items can be made from old newspapers. (newspaper image by Christopher Hall from


Don't toss old clothing in the trash or send them to the thrift store. Consider a craft project. Quilts are notable family treasures, passed from one generation to the next. Our great grandmothers typically made quilts from scraps of fabric, salvaged from old clothing. Quilts are not just blankets; a quilt project might be a stuffed animal, a wall hanging or a throw pillow. When cutting up old clothing, remove any buttons or embellishments. Use these in other craft projects, such as scrapbooking, altered books, greeting cards or artist trading cards.

Make a treasured quilt from old clothing.
Make a treasured quilt from old clothing. (patchwork quilt and pillows image by Gina Smith from


Consumers often keep old shoe boxes to use as storage containers or toss them in the trash. Consider transforming those old shoe boxes into treasure boxes, used to store keepsakes or other items. For a hinged top, strategically cut two corners of the lid, and then affix the flapping lid edge to the box, using heavy packing tape. Cover the surface of the box with découpage, adding pieces of fabric, wallpaper, wrapping paper or pictures cut from old magazines. Embellish the box, using notions such as lace, ribbons or buttons.

Trash to treasure crafts
Give new purpose to an old box. (colourful box image by Adrian Hillman from

Jars and Cans

Each week, the kitchen dustbin fills with empty jars and cans. Many of those items, if cleaned and sharp edges removed, provide countless opportunities to create a special treasure. Decorate the lids of glass jars to create transparent containers for storage. Cover clean tin cans to make pencil jars or plant containers. Transform glass jars into terrariums or small glass jars into small snow globes.

Trash to treasure crafts
Transform an old jar or can into a treasure. (cookie jar image by Adrian Hillman from

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