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12 Thrifty Trash to Treasure Crafts

If you hate throwing anything away, you will love this collection of thrifty crafts.

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8 Ways to Craft with Plastic Trash


Do not toss that plastic bag, bottle, or empty jewel case! Turn trash plastic into decorative accents for your home, a functional tool, or a fun activity for kids or adults. Reduce your household plastic waste by crafting with plastic instead of throwing it away. The more you look for ways to re-use plastic instead of throwing it away, the more aware you will be of how much plastic you encounter and toss in your normal life. With your favorite hobby, you can send less plastic to the landfill. 

Plastic Bottle Lids
Why do we want to reduce our plastic waste? Well, for one thing, plastic does not biodegrade. All the plastic we have ever produced is still with us and will be for a very, very long time. For more information on the problems of plastic, please see anti-plastic activist Beth Terry's fantastic article. Now on to the crafts!



Plastic Bags

Crochet- Crochet a plastic bag door mat. Cut the bags into 2 inch strips and tie them together, leaving about a 2-3 inch tail. Use a J hook and chain the width, then double crochet in each chain, chain three and turn. Crochet each row the same until an acceptable length. Pull all the tails to one side of the mat, so that the rug has a shag look to it and the other side is flat. When it gets dirty, you can wash it by just spraying it with water.

Fusing- Fuse plastic bags into a sturdy sewing material. Select three to four plastic bags. Turn the plastic bags inside out and layer one on top of the layer. Sandwich plastic layers between pieces of parchment paper. Run a hot iron over the top, moving the iron constantly. Quickly iron one side, including the edges, flip over and iron the other side. Carefully peel back the parchment to make sure the plastic has fused into one layer. You can use this sturdy material in sewing projects, including reusable tote bags for shopping.

Flowers- Kids or adults can create flowers by cutting circles out of plastic bags, for decorating art or accessories. See this Punch Art Flower Garden.

Plastic Bag Tags

Bread Tag Jewelry- Yes, even bread tags can be saved and used for a craft project. Paint the bread tags with black acrylic paint, let dry and decorate with metallic dimensional paint. These can be turned into a long necklace, earrings or a charm bracelet. Kids will also love this craft. See Bread Tag Jewelry for instructions.

Plastic Bottles

Birdfeeder- Cut out a 2-inch circle 3 inches from the bottom of 2-liter bottle. Fill bottom of bottle with birdseed and hang outside. For something a little fancier, check out this Plastic Bottle Birdfeeder craft.

Luminaries- Cut off the tops of plastic bottles, paint them and add sand and a candle to the bottom to create luminaries. Light up your walkway on Halloween with orange and yellow Pumpkin Luminaries. Painting around contact paper allows you to add a jack-o-lantern face to the Halloween plastic bottles, but you can use the same technique to add stars and other designs to the luminaries the rest of the year.

Ornaments- Kids can use the lids of plastic bottles to create cute little Christmas ornaments. Kids can first paint the bottle lids in red or green and secure a ribbon or yarn around the lid to hang. Then they can rub glue over the inside of the bottle lid and sprinkle the inside with glitter or sequins. To secure the sequins, cut out one bubble from large-size bubble wrap. Rub glue over the inside sides of the bottle lip and slide the bubble into the cap over the sequins.

Plastic Jewel Cases (CD/Computer Software/Etc.)

Jewel Case Picture Frame- Turn jewel cases into picture frames. Pull a jewel case apart into two pieces and use ribbon to create a frame around the outside edges. Ribbon fits conveniently into the inside tabs and can be held with a small amount of glue at the corners. Decorate with buttons, flowers and/or other embellishments. You can also make a 2-part hanging picture frame with both pieces of a jewel case.



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