Kick Off Earth Week — 10 Crafty Recycling Ideas

Posted by on Apr 17, 2011

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Earth Week is the time to treat your recycling bin like a craft supply store without anyone judging. Especially when this means sashaying into your office wearing a dress made from a bunch of juice drink pouches sewn together. (OK, so maybe you’ll get a few quizzical stares.) But sometimes it’s hard to think outside the (juice)box. When does trash become treasure? Let’s find out with these inspiring projects.

cardboard roll decor
Cardboard Roll Decor

Zero. That’s the number of people who will see this gorgeous wall art and think “Hey, that’s made from toilet paper rolls!” But it is, folks. Simply slice the empty cardboard tubes into rings, then affix to the wall mosaic-style using scrapbook glue dots.
recycled rum vase
Recycled Rum Vase

Nope, this lovely little vase did not come from Jonathan Adler, but it did come from the liquor store. With a simple coat of paint, an empty rum bottle becomes a centerpiece-worthy display for the tiniest fraction of the designer price.
Find out how to turn a glass rum bottle into a vase using paint from Kid Champ.
diy designer envelope
DIY Designer Envelope

We’ve all been there: Down to the last thank-you card and suddenly out of envelopes thanks to a few previous misaddressed mess-ups. When that happens, reach for a magazine. With a few folds, a pretty page makes a custom envelope.
Check out this video to see how to create a custom envelope from this YouTube video.
fused plastic bag tote
Fused Plastic Bag Tote

Here’s a different way to reuse plastic bags: Fuse them together to create a super-strong material. Just layer about 6 bags on top of each other, sandwich between parchment and then press with an iron. (Note: You’ll definitely want to turn the bags inside out, since the ink can get a little messy when heated.) Then, sew like you would any other fabric.
pop art gift boxes
Pop Art Gift Boxes

Bright and cheery juice cartons create a surprising presentation for any little trinket. To dress them up a little more, attach gift tags cut from scrapbook paper or magazine pages.
Get the how-to for creating juice carton gift boxes from Urban Woodswalker.
pinwheel wreath
Pretty Pinwheel Wreath

Dress up a ho-hum front door with a wreath that doesn’t scream “holiday.” Like the envelope project above, this decorative touch is made by folding colorful magazine pages. (Hint: The glossier the page, the crisper the folds will be.)
Use this tutorial from Something Old, Something New to make pinwheel paper rosettes, then attach to a circle of cardboard with glue.
upcycled denim jean message board cover
Genius Message Board Cover

Make use out of those holey old jeans that are just a little too deconstructed to donate by using them as a cork message board cover. You’ll still be able to pierce through the denim with tacks, but the real bonus is that you’ll also get storage pockets out of the deal.
Or, check out how this crafter made a denim-covered message board from scratch.
crochet plastic bag tote
Crocheted Plastic Bag Tote

Who knew that a bunch of plastic bags (you know, the ones you’ve been amassing to reuse) could become a versatile craft material? Simply cut the bags into strips, roll into “yarn,” then crochet into anything you’d like. Our choice: A beach tote that can sturdily stand up to wear-and-tear.
Follow this easy how-to from Canadian Living for making crocheted totes out of plastic bags.
faux-fused plastic purse
Faux-Fused Plastic Purse

If you’re a little wary of fusing plastic, you can still get a similar look by sandwiching any old snack bag (obviously, choose a cute one!) between clear vinyl, then sew in place. This method is better for smaller scale projects, like this cute little coin purse!

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