20 Crafty Ways to Recycle Almost Everything
The items you buy and use every day without thinking can be harming the planet and your budget. So many things can be recycled with a bit of ingenuity and DIY. Here are 20 ideas to get you started making a difference in your own home.
1. Plastic drink bottles just pile up, especially in the summer months, and usually end up in the garbage if they can’t be returned: But if you make your own ginger beer or cordial, you can reuse the bottles as containers and never have to buy any more.
Other uses around the home and workshop include cutting the bottles in half and using the tops for funnels and the bottoms for storage, Slip the top half upside down into the bottom half, add some fly-attracting goodies like molasses or precooked “salad shrimp” in the bottom and you have a handy fly trap for the BBQ area.
Create your own self-watering planters for an easy windowsill herb garden.
2. Spray bottles should not be thrown away. Save the ones you buy and fill with water, adding a few drops of essential oil to reuse as a room freshener.
To make a spray cleaner, fill the container 3/4 full with water, add two tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax and a few drops of orange essential oil or the juice of half a lemon. Use this efficient, fresh smelling spray on surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom.
Alternatively, you could fill the bottle with ice water for instant cooling on a hot day.
3. Plastic bags are going out of style faster than bellbottom pants, but there are still plenty around, so find ways not to pollute the oceans with them. Use them to store out of season clothes like sweaters, sneakers, and anoraks.
When you are done with your plastic bags, tie them in a knot and put them into a designated recycling bin at your shopping center. Use newspaper to line your bins and buy or make cotton bags. Here are 15 smart ways to reuse plastic bags
4. Old scratched CDs can have a new life: Turn them into coasters for the deck or patio – old 70s and 80s labels are great. Turn them into bright mobiles and wind chimes, or `alter’ them with paint and embellishments into new works of art.
5. Old clothes that you can’t even restyle into something trendy still have many uses. You can cut them up and shred to stuff cushions – old soft t-shirts are great for this.
Patterned dresses and shirts can be cut into pieces for patchwork that will carry old memories into a new generation, or you can take old clothes that you love apart at the seams and use for patterns. You can also cut up old fabric into strips and use to make rag rugs.
6. Even in the Internet age, there is a lot of waste paper being tossed out. Local newspapers left in your yard or letterbox, junk mail (if you don’t have a sticker banning it), magazines, envelopes and so on can mount up and overflow your recycle bin.
Try using it as mulch in the garden or the compost bin, or layer it in flower beds, soak with a hose, repeat and cover with mulch for an effective weed block.
Feeling crafty? Soak torn up newspaper sheets in a bucket of 1 part water and 2 parts PVA glue to make paper mache. This is easy and fun for the whole family to make useful bowls and even freakyhalloween costumes.
Newspaper can be decorated and recycled into wrapping paper and brightly colored magazine pages can be used for decoupage.
Junk mail and newspaper can even be repurposed into logs for essentially free heating fuel.
7. Polystyrene is a nightmare fact of life for a planet buried under mountains of waste. But even this can be repurposed: Use big sheets of packing polystyrene to make skeletons and gravestones for Halloween and snowmen for Christmas. Decorate your yard with them.
You can also use styrofoam sheets for insulation, molded pieces can be used for starting seedlings and blocks can be made into toy houses and other craft items. Keep polystyrene packing beads to fill bean bags. Keep bubble wrap to use for moving and shopping to protect fine China breakables. If you have no use for it, take it to a recycling center.
8. Cardboard boxes are useful in so many ways when they have done their job of holding consumables. Crafters love them to make dollhouses, cooking stoves for toy kitchens, play trains and anything else a kid’s imagination can come up with.
Shoe boxes can be covered with wrapping paper and turned into photo or trinket boxes, or packed with school supplies, toys and clothes for a charity shoebox collection at Christmas, Fill bigger boxes to the brim with old newspapers packed tightly, (or other flat items you want to store) and cover with fabric to make extra seating or footstools.
9. Empty tin cans are very handy, especially in the garage or workshop to store nuts, bolts, screws and other small items. Keep them in the kitchen to fill with discarded fats that solidify when cold. Just freeze them and dispose of in the garbage collection.
10. Glass jars are the items most likely to be recycled. Generations of householders have used them to store lentils, pulses, dried herbs, spices, breadcrumbs, and any other dried foods.
Recycle for homemade preserve and pickles, and use glass bottles for homemade herb-flavored oils and vinegar. But crafters have also discovered great ways to repurpose them – ever thought of making your own snow globes?
11. Old socks and stockings needn’t be thrown away. Cut socks into rings and use as ponytail holders or turn into sock puppets to amuse the kids. Old washed hose can be used to store rolled up posters and documents or hang onions, garlic, and potatoes in the pantry.
12. Worn sheets: might not be great to sleep on anymore, but that doesn’t mean their useful life is over. They can even be used as linen again, if you cut out the worn center and join the two sides, turning a double or queen sheet into a single.
Old sheets can be turned into pillowcases, cushion covers, patchwork pieces, slipcovers or even children’s clothes. Those too worn for anything else can be recycled for cleaning and polishing rags.
13. Believe it or not, even broken china and crockery can be repurposed in beautiful new ways.: Smash the broken item into tiny pieces and try your hand at a mosaic. Use plaster of paris or clay as a base and create a design to put in your bathroom or garden.
You can make a clay plate or bowl and press the broken china pieces into the surface to make something new to decorate your home. Plain everyday china can be placed in the bottom of a plant pot or window box for better drainage.
14. Not all books are worth the space they take up on your shelves. If no one else wants them, try a new craft by altering existing books with paints, pens, and embellishments. You can create a new work of art.
If you have more books than furniture, make use of unwanted hardbacks by stacking and gluing together to make bookshelves, a coffee table or side table. Use old soft covers for scrapbooks, pasting recipes or craft patterns to the pages.
15. Tea bags – yes, tea bags. Why waste a used tea bag when you can let it cool and place over the eyes for a refreshing and relaxing treatment. This is especially good with herbal teas. After that, add them to your compost. Here are 20 More awesome uses for used tea bags that you might not have known about!
16. Millions of tons of food are wasted every day. Get savvy with leftovers to save yourself a bundle and create a more sustainable way to love. Add leftover roast meats, chopped up, to fried rice, omelets, and soups.
Make bubble and squeak by mixing leftover vegetables with an egg, and frying in small rounds. Put leftover fish in the food processor with a little parsley and mayonnaise to make sandwich spread.
Cooked leftover rice makes the best fried rice, and leftover pasta can be mixed with mayonnaise, cold chicken or crisp bacon, herbs and, vegetables for a quick pasta salad. Don’t even waste orange and lemon peel – dry in the microwave for a few seconds and add to potpourri.
17. Takeaway food containers can save you money and time if you reuse them to storing meals cooked at home. Use a slow cooker to make up a batch of curry or pot roast and fill clean takeaway containers with meals you don’t have to get from the takeaway. If you have a microwave at work, you can save even more money by bringing your own lunch.
18. If you have a baby or know someone who has, baby food jars are absolutely essential in the craft room for little things like beads, buttons and hooks and eyes. Wrap a chunk of fiberfill in a piece of cotton and stuff into the jar for an instant pincushion. Keep in the pantry for small amounts of herbs and spices. The jars are almost as adorable as the baby!
19. Got a stash of lipsticks, lip gloss and lip balm in shades you are no longer crazy about? Try melting them together in a bowl in the microwave for a few seconds and see what you get. A whole new shade! Pour into an old cosmetic jar or lip gloss pot and consider yourself both savvy and chic.
20. Old watering cans, boots, rubber boots, felt hats, buckets, pots and pans may not seem to have much to offer, but in your garden they can be treasures. Put holes in the bottom (if there aren’t any), line with sphagnum moss and fill with potting soil, and use for potted plants.
It’s a major garden trend that adds quirky character and charm to your outdoor rooms. Look at everything with a new eye – even umbrella frames can support climbing roses and peas.
In a world fast becoming overrun by rubbish, it is more important than ever to reuse, repurpose and recycle and, if possible, stop buying more plastic bags and bottles. It is not just humans that will benefit, but also the variety of life that share this planet with us.