Creative Recycling Ideas for Crafters

Posted by on Nov 08, 2014

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America Recycles Day is coming up — what are you doing to celebrate?  I will be teaching people how to make these art postcards with recycled cardboard and junk mail at a local recycling education center event. It's going to be really fun!

In the rush of our day-to-day activities, it's easy to overlook a true treasure that's sitting in your trash can or recycle bin. We toss out so many perfectly good crafting surfaces — paper, plastic, wood, glass, metal, and old clothes, too. What I love about crafting with recycled materials goes beyond saving money on craft supplies. There's the environmental benefit — we all need to do our part to reduce what ends up in landfills. Plus I also really love the creative challenge that comes with upcycling. Here are some of my favorite upcycled craft projects that I have made over the years — I hope I can inspire you to think twice before you toss!

painted paper box

Paint a candy box

So many candy makers package their treats in sturdy paper board boxes with lids, especially during the holidays. With some gesso, opaque paints and pretty embellishments, you can turn that empty candy box into a beautiful gift all on its own.

altered altoids tin gift card holder

Wrap up a metal mint tin

Those curiously strong mints come in fabulous metal tins with a hinged lid that fit a gift card (or cash!) perfectly. With paper, stickers and glue, you can quickly alter a tin into a sweet birthday gift. I attached a long accordion-folded card and placed gift cards in the folds — makes it fun for the recipient to open!

tee shirt wall art

Turn an old T-shirt into wall art

Who says an old T-shirt has to become a dust rag? Here's a video tutorial I made to show you how to use a T-shirt as the foundation for a wall panel with accent fabrics and die-cut papers.

altered clipboard

Alter a clipboard

With tablets and iPads, people aren't using clipboards much anymore. But I think they're handy in the kitchen, on the wall in your office, or on bedroom doors as message stations. With some pretty paints, papers and decoupage medium, you can turn a common clipboard into something super cute!

altered CD clock

Tell time with an old CD

Just rub, stamp or drip alcohol inks onto the shiny side of an unwanted CD, insert a clock mechanism kit with a battery, and you have a cool upcycled timepiece for any room in the house.

recycled cardboard collage postcard

From cereal to collage

Cereal boxes, frozen meals, pasta and more come in cardboard packaging that you can trim down to 4"x6" postcards to collage and paint-stamp with an inspiring quote. Even the stamps I used were everyday objects that I redirected from the trash to the craft supply closet. Click here to learn how I made this recycled sunshine postcard.

craft your stash sun catcher

Soup can lids and plastic packaging

In my new book, Craft Your Stash, I show you lots of great techniques, tips and projects using the supplies you have in your stash. A few projects, like this pretty sun catcher, include recycled materials, too. The lid from a soup can was perfect to hold all my strands of stray beads and shapes die-cut from all that plastic packaging that encases nearly everything we buy.

Happy recyclers are happy crafters!

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