Craft ideas from recycled materials

Updated February 21, 2017

Recycled crafts are an efficient and creative way to reuse some of the materials you have around the house that will not otherwise be used; by doing so, you create a beautiful, useful new object without increasing your waste. As you search for craft ideas for recycled materials, gather your unused items and consider the possible alternate uses for each material.

Cereal Box Magazine Holders

Make magazine holders out of cereal boxes or wine boxes for an easy and efficient way to organise magazines and journals. Measure a spot on the narrow side of the box about 6 inches up. From there, draw a diagonal line to a point on the opposite side of the box, about 12 inches up. Repeat along the other side and cut along the lines. Cover the box and reinforce the edges with recycled newspaper or wrapping paper.

Repurposed Jeans

If you have jeans that your family can no longer wear but which are too old or worn to give to charity, you can use the material for a variety of crafts. Women can make a new item of clothing by cutting off worn legs and creating a simple and stylish jean skirt. Make fun magnets by cutting out the pocket and backing from a pair of jeans, adding a magnet, and using the pocket to store small items like pens and coupons on the fridge. Younger children can use denim and old buttons to make bags or pillows. For a fun and useful organiser, cut off the legs of several pairs of jeans, sew one end closed, and attach to a larger piece of cloth in rows to create pockets for craft items, school supplies or office supplies.

Milk Jug Planters

Create unique and colourful planters from plastic milk jugs, soda bottles and juice cartons. Cut off the top of the container and poke holes in the bottom to allow runoff from the soil. Then, allow your children or teenagers to decorate the outside of the jugs using paint, fabric scraps or leftover craft supplies. The resulting planters will be fun and bright, and will encourage children to think innovatively about items they normally would throw out. You can also use containers with handles to create watering cans for the planters.

Tin Can Crafts

Aluminium soup and vegetable cans can make up a good part of household waste; instead of throwing out your tin cans, use them to make handy containers. Before using cans, sand down rough edges, wash the can and peel off the label. Cover the sides of the can in fabric strips, leftover paint, buttons, sequins or other craft supplies: this project is a good way to use small amounts of decorations that would otherwise be thrown out. Once finished, the cans can be used as pencil holders, change boxes or even planters for herbs.

Super Crayons

Instead of throwing out the ends or broken pieces of crayons, have your children save them in a special box. When you have enough, heat a pot of water to boiling and place a recycled aluminium pie pan on top of the pan. Put the crayon bits in the pie pan and allow them to melt. When they are liquefied, hold a cookie cutter onto a greased piece of aluminium foil and pour in the wax. When it hardens, your children will have a new crayon in a fun shape.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.