This blog called Living Green by National Geographic (see link below) has some great ideas about recycled craft ideas that kids or adults can make. These would be great for that last minute gift you are trying to figure out or a wonderful way to help teach children about the gift of giving to others and helping our Earth by recycling.
Using recycled items is an inexpensive way to make crafts, but it also an important step in reducing the waste that the human population produces. In 2009, Americans generated more than 30 million tons of plastic waste (see References 3). Paper is also ubiquitous, with Americans using 68 million tons each year but recycling only 43 million tons (see References 1). Despite this better than 60 percent paper-recycling rate, more needs to be done, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Every ton of paper recycled keeps 3.3 cubic yards out of the landfill and saves enough energy to power the average American home for six months (see References 4). Reusing items is just as effective as recycling them when it comes to keeping them out of the landfill.
Items you will need:
Hot glue gun
Milk or juice cartons with screw-on plastic pour caps
24- to 32-oz. plastic containers with lids
Pieces of old jewelry
1/4-inch-thick round magnets
Clear waterproof spray paint
Plastic paint and primer
Milk Carton Bird House
Step 1:Rinse out an empty half-gallon milk or juice carton and dry thoroughly. Do not cut the top off the carton or open its peak. After rinsing, replace the screw-on cap.
Step 2:Cut a 1 1/2-inch circular hole on one side of the carton, about 6 inches from the bottom.
Step 3:Cut pictures of trees, flowers and outdoor scenes from old magazines. Glue these to the outside of the carton.
Step 4:Spray paint the entire outside of the carton with clear waterproof spray paint, available at most hardware and craft stores. Apply two or three coats. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly between coats.
Step 5:Cut two small holes in the top of the carton, one on each side of the peak. Thread a length of yarn through the holes. Tie the yarn into a loop and hang the birdhouse from a tree branch.
Bottle Cap Refrigerator Magnets
Step 1:Wash one bottle cap or more and dry thoroughly.
Step 2:Paint the outside wavy edge of the bottle cap.
Step 3:Cut an old photograph or a colorful piece of photograph from a magazine into a small circle the same size as the top of the bottle cap. Suggestions include a face, a flower, a dog, a sailboat or just a swath of color to make an abstract image.
Step 4:Glue the image to the outside of the bottle cap with craft glue. Press the edges down firmly.
Step 5:Hot glue a 1/4-inch-thick round magnet to the inside of the bottle cap. When the glue cools, the refrigerator magnet is ready to use.
DIY Toothbrush Holder
Step 1:Wash and dry a plastic container, such as a large yogurt tub, soup container or ricotta cheese tub.
Step 2:Cut four to six holes in the bottom of the container. Make each hole large enough to fit a toothbrush into. Space your holes evenly about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the edge.
Step 3:Paint the outside of the tub with primer paint that is made to adhere to plastic, and then decorate it with plastic-adhering paint in the colors of your choice. Let the paint dry. Paint made to use on plastic is available online or in specialty craft stores.
Step 4:Hot glue small buttons, photographs, jewels or trinkets from old jewelry to the outside of the container.
Step 5:Place the lid on the container and turn it upside down. Your toothbrush holder is ready to use. When you are ready to clean it, simply remove and wash the lid.
Aluminum Can and Paper Pencil Holder
Step 1:Wash and dry an aluminum food can.
Step 2:Measure and cut a rectangular piece of colored paper so it fits all the way around the can. Leave an additional 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the top rim of the can.
Step 3:Spread glue on the paper, wrap it around the can and fold the extra 1/4 to 1/2 inch of paper down inside the open top of the can.
Step 4:Decorate the outside of the can by gluing pictures cut from magazines, buttons and jewels to the paper or by painting it. Let it dry.
A former science writer for the Smithsonian Institution, Kimbra Cutlip is a freelance writer and children’s book author whose articles have appeared in numerous national publications. A certified group fitness instructor and emergency medical technician, Cutlip co-owns a remodeling company specializing in energy-efficient sustainable building and solar hot water systems. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in magazine journalism and anthropology.
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