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Recycling and Crafts

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Crafts Using Recycled Materials

Crafts can be a great way to recycle computer and household waste while having fun and making something useful. This page features craft projects that are made from at least one recycled item. In some projects, like Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps, the craft is made almost entirely of recycled materials. Some projects, like the Trinket Box, use a recycled item as the basis of a craft.

The projects range in difficulty from VERY EASY to AVERAGE.


The craft projects are arranged in the following categories:

Select a category of projects based on the materials available or just browse the list. 
Crafts marked with Friday Fun are great for classroom or group craft time.

Paper recycling

  • Serendipity Square Cards - In this greeting card tutorial, learn how to use leftover scraps of paper and cardstock to make colorful serendipity squares that are then combined in various ways to make beautiful cards. Once you learn how to make serendipity squares, you'll never need to throw away those small scraps of paper again!

    EASY

  • Recycled Paper Notepads - Make beautiful and functional notepads from recycled paper! You will use paper from the home and office that is printed on one side, along with scraps of leftover craft paper to make these up-cycled scratch pads. Keep several notepads on hand to give as gifts.

    EASY

  • Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps - In this project, learn how to make paper by hand from recycled scraps of paper. Learn techniques that will give the best results at home, along with simple and inexpensive alternatives for children or beginners who just want to experiment.

    AVERAGE

  • Artwork Bookmarks Friday Fun - These bookmarks are simply made from artwork that you are willing to cut up and two pieces of clear contact paper. This is a great way to recycle your less than perfect artwork or preserve your child's treasured drawings.

    VERY EASY

  • Recycled Greeting Cards - In this tutorial, learn how to make new greeting cards by recycling old cards. A variety of techniques are presented that make it easy to create a card you will be proud to send. Making recycled cards is a terrific group activity and is fun for crafters of all ages.

    EASY

  • Basics of Quilling - Quilling is the art of rolling narrow strips of paper into various shapes, and arranging them to form elegant filigree. Cut strips from recycled scrap paper or magazines and then use a toothpick to roll coils and scrolls that you pinch, shape, and arrange into decorative patterns.

    EASY

  • Milk and Cookie Placemats Friday Fun - Kids of all ages will have fun making these placemats that are sized for a snack of milk and cookies. Just cut out images from old greeting cards, calendars or magazines that relate to the theme for the placemat and cover with clear contact paper. That's it! Simple as eating a chocolate chip cookie. Yum!

    VERY EASY

  • Christmas Quilling - Make festive coiled paper shapes from scraps of paper and then use them to decorate boxes, tags, and cards. This project includes Christmas quilling designs and examples of how to combine quilling with handcrafted items.

    EASY

  • Shiny Paper Beads Friday Fun - See how easy it is to recycle paper scraps and magazines to make colorful paper beads. After winding the paper into beads and varnishing them for a shiny finish and durability, the beads can be strung into bracelets, necklaces and even beaded room dividers!

    EASY

  • Straw Bead Necklace Friday Fun - In this project, you'll see how to take the classic drinking straw bead necklace and step it up a notch! You'll use decorative paper strips to cover the soda straws before cutting them into beads. This is a great way to recycle your leftover paper scraps. Suitable for all ages!

    VERY EASY

  • Seed Catalog Garden Friday Fun - Make a garden in the middle of winter by cutting up seed catalogs. Cutting up the catalogs, making the garden, and playing with it will keep kids busy for hours.

    VERY EASY

  • Paper Mosaic Friday Fun - Learn how to make paper mosaics to decorate crafts and give as gifts, while recycling the paper scraps from other projects. Make one for Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa.

    VERY EASY to EASY

  • Gift Tag Fun Friday Fun - Recycle greeting cards and paper scraps into fun and unique gift tags. The whole family can join in on the cutting and pasting to make these special additions to your holiday gifts. The tags can even be grouped into packages for sale at a Christmas bazaar or for a fundraiser.

    VERY EASY

  • Punched Bookmarks - You've been cutting, folding and pasting to make your crafty creations, but now there are bits and pieces of paper left over. Recycle that leftover paper to make simple and beautiful bookmarks using a hole punch.

    VERY EASY

Empty Paper Tube Recycling

  • Trinket Box Friday Fun - Use recycled materials to make this trinket box. All it takes to make this cutie are empty cardboard tubes, a cereal box and scraps of ribbon or paper. You are sure to want to make more than one!

    AVERAGE

  • Fourth of July Crackers Friday Fun - Make a Fourth of July cracker that goes POP! See how to make this novelty box that is shaped like a firecracker and makes a pop sound without any fire. It is made from a toilet paper tube or make it bigger with an empty paper towel tube.

    AVERAGE

  • Multicolor Binoculars Friday Fun - Make binoculars from recycled toilet paper tubes and squares of colored cellophane for lenses. Wrap the tubes in black construction paper (or paint them black) for an authentic look or let loose the imagination by decorating the cardboard tubes any way you like!

    EASY

  • Toilet Paper Tube Puppets - Use empty toilet paper tubes to make finger puppets, then put on a play that features them. Use the included patterns or make puppets of your own design. The versatility of this puppet making technique is amazing. Give it a try!

    EASY

  • Thanksgiving Napkin Rings Friday Fun - Rings cut from empty toilet paper tubes are the basis for these easy to make napkin rings. You and the kids will have fun while making something special for the Thanksgiving table. Use the same basic idea with simple variations for other holidays

    EASY

Box, Can, and Jar Recycling

  • Magazine Holder Friday Fun - Here’s a craft that is fun to do, recycles empty cereal boxes, and organizes those stacks of magazines, paperback books and miscellaneous papers around the house or in your child’s bedroom.

    AVERAGE

  • Recycled Milk Carton Gift Boxes - In this project, learn how to recycle milk and juice cartons, or any size gable top carton, into strong gift boxes. You can either wrap the boxes in your favorite way or transform the carton into a house or a cuckoo clock using Aunt Annie's patterns.

    EASY to AVERAGE

  • Easy Jar Lid Covers - Turn any jar into something special with a jar lid cover you can quickly make from paper. Make a cover for that special homemade jelly or a recycled jar you fill with a treat. Anyone will be delighted to receive a gift with a handsome lid cover.

    VERY EASY

  • Memory Game Friday Fun - Cut up an empty cereal box to make cards for the game of memory. This is a fun and very easy project that young kids really love doing! It is great for families or groups, and with a little preparation by the adult or teen leaders, this project is fast and fun.

    VERY EASY

  • Recycled Tin Can Candle Holders Friday Fun - Imagine quiet conversation on a patio or porch in the light of flickering candles. These simple candle holder luminaries are made from recycled cans that are left plain or painted. The candle holders are fun to make as a family or group project.

    AVERAGE

  • Snow Scene in a Jar Snow Globe Friday Fun - Whether you have snow where you live or not, you can have wintertime fun by making a wintry snow scene in a jar. All it takes is a few plastic toys, rocks, glue, glitter and water to turn a small jar into a winter wonderland where a gentle shake makes it snow.

    AVERAGE

  • Valentine's Day Candy Jar Friday Fun - It is easy to recycle an empty jar into a wonderful container for Valentine’s Day candies. Just add some cutouts from old Valentine’s Day cards or leftover Valentine's Day napkins to make a decorated jar nice enough to give as a gift.

    EASY

Recycle Other Materials

  • Mittens from Sweatpants - In this project, use old sweatpants to make mittens for kids. This is a great way to recycle the fabric from all those holey and stained sweatpants (and sweatshirts) that no one can wear anymore. This is a good project for new sewers. As an added bonus, the project includes instructions for making a scarf from sweatpants.

    EASY

  • Recycled Crayons Friday Fun - In this project, make new crayons out of old broken ones. Your kids will have fun making these crayons that are better than new. The recycled crayons also make a good gift when placed in a cellophane or plastic bag tied closed with pretty ribbon or yarn.

    EASY

  • Stenciled T-Shirts - Take a plain T-shirt or a tired old T-shirt and perk it up with stenciled designs. These super-easy embellishments are a great way to rescue a T-shirt that has been stained. The same technique can be used to stencil sweatshirts and sweatpants—just about anything made of fabric.

    AVERAGE

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Notepads with Aunt Annie's ePaper as binding

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Tip: Leftover scraps of Aunt Annie's ePapers make colorful bindings for Recycled Paper Notepads.

A set of bookmarks cut from the same piece of artwork

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Tip: A piece of artwork can be cut into several bookmarks. See how to do this in the Artwork Bookmarks craft project.

Fancy paper binoculars

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Tip: Don't limit yourself to black. Use any color paper to make your unique pair of Multicolor Binoculars.

Closeup of magazine holder end

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Tip: Recycle cereal boxes to make Magazine Holders.

Tin Can Candler Holders with lit candle

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Tip: Repurpose empty food cans by making Recycled Tin Can Candle Holders.

Set of recycled crayons

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Tip: Us broken crayons to make several colors of Recycled Crayons for a complete set.

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