The Earth is highly polluted with our everyday use of plastic, paper, and general waste. Some areas do not have recycling factories or pick-up available. We are all told that we must recycle, reuse, and reduce; but sometimes that still leaves the question of how to do it. Earth friendly arts and crafts are a great way to make our everyday “garbage” into something useful and beautiful. It is also a wonderful way to spend time with both children and adults in your family. Projects can range from very simple to extremely complex, impressing your friends and inspiring them to make recycled art of their own.
Eco-friendly Crafts for Kids
Making crafts is always a great way to spend time with kids. It’s a good time to engage in their creativity and imagination. Good Net has six projects you can make with your children right in your backyard or local park. Using pinecones, stones, and sticks can be a fun way to make garlands, stars, and cute characters. While collecting the materials, ask children why they picked a certain object and what they hope to make with it. Making eco-friendly crafts encourages children to care about the environment and gain an interest in recycling.
For recycling craft ideas for kids, visit:
- One Green Planet: Home items you can reuse over and over again
- Recycle Art: Official website
- Pennsylvania State: Environmentally friendly activities for children
- Utah State University: Reuse: creating new life for common items
Reusing Bottles, Cans, and Jars
Plastics are a growing problem when it comes to pollution, especially in the oceans. Bottles, cans, and jars are great items to recycle into your own holders and containers. Craft ideas include a sink extender for kids to wash their hands easier, magazine holder, a chandelier, and if you want to get really crafty, making butterflies and a leaf lamp. At Recycle Works, they show you how to make a bird feeder from a plastic bottle. This is a great project for children as it not only encourages recycling but also exploring the types of birds in your area.
Do your drinks have a metal bottle cap? You can create a bottle cap table like the one at Dwell With Dignity. Instead of throwing away old bottle caps, you can decorate a table top for any part of your home.
For more ideas for the whole family, visit:
- Artists Helping Children: Juice cans arts and crafts
- National Wildlife Foundation: Plastic bottle terrarium
- Open Lab at City Tech: Mason jar ideas
Reusing Paper and Boxes
We all have unused magazines, newspapers, and cardboard boxes taking up room in our homes. These are great items to create beautiful and inspiring crafts. NASA has suggestions for using a cardboard box and some other household items to make a solar oven. This oven can even make S’mores. You can also make a dollhouse with empty cardboard boxes.
Magazines and newspapers are great for making a variety of arts and crafts such as pencils from Ecomena or paper roses for Mother’s Day at Indoor Outdoor Space. Paper mache is another great way to reuse newspapers or magazines. You can make maracas like these at Kinder Art.
For another idea, you can visit Time to Recycle: Tissue box photo album.
If you would like to make musical instruments, check out this lyre activity using cardboard from the J.Getty Museum.
Crafts from Clothing
We all have clothing that we no longer wear or have grown out of. However, this doesn’t mean that it needs to be thrown away. Recycling clothing is another great item to use for craft projects. You can upcycle the clothing to wear it again as something new or cut it up to make rugs, blankets, or toys. The Levi Strauss Foundation has some amazing ideas for crafts that use denim. Try making coasters, aprons, dog toys, or bracelets with your old jeans.
Spare Parts show us how many ways we can use old t-shirts. We can make items such as wall hangings, a t-shirt bag, or a braided t-shirt rug. Just because t-shirts have holes does not mean they can’t be used for some fun DIY projects.
For more craft ideas, go to:
Jewelry that you do not wear anymore is also a great resource for crafts. You can re-use the jewelry or make your own jewelry from items around the house. PBS has a use for old milk jugs by turning them into earrings and necklaces. You can also use old nail polish to create jewels for rings and necklaces. You are able to create new and unique pieces that no one else will be sporting.
At Hope Pick-up, they give ideas on how to use old jewelry for art projects. These include decorating old frames, making magnets, or creating a flower brooch table top decoration.
For more jewelry ideas, go to Canteen Girl: Recycled jewelry necklaces.
Miscellaneous Items Around the House
There are also miscellaneous items around the house that can be used to make arts and crafts. Take the empty egg carton. You can make a stylish jewelry box. If you have extra plastic grocery bags around the house, you can make a kite like the one at Aqua. Toilet paper and kitchen paper rolls are also great items for crafts. Take a look at the ideas at Crafting Green World. You can make something as simple as a kaleidoscope and Minions to as complicated as a Christmas wreath and toilet paper roll flowers.
Old CDs can also be used to create amazing arts and crafts. Digital Inspiration gives us several ideas to make such as disco balls, iPhone docking station, or unique flower arrangements.
If you have any used paper bags, you can make holiday decorations like garland, Christmas trees, and skeletons.
Keyboard keys from older, unused computers are also great for arts and crafts projects that could include making necklaces, purses, hair pins, and even a t-shirt design.
If you are still interested in more crafts, Thinkery Austin has a great one: DIY egg carton flower.
For a wide range of crafts to do with your littles, please visit The Wisconsin green schools network.