Projects Made From Recycled Materials

    by Kay W

    About the Author

    Kay W has more than 10 years of freelance writing experience, including technical papers, grants for youth and environmental nonprofits and consulting materials. With a Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering and a Master of Arts in environmental organizational leadership, Kay W has a diverse educational and technical professional background.


    With a just a bit of imagination and creativity anything in your house or garage can be used in making colorful recycled art projects. Reusing common items in your house can teach kids how to be resourceful, to understand the importance of recycling and the environment, and to understand their physical environments. By the time you're finished with your crafty upcyling, you'll have plenty of one-of-a-kind projects to show off with pride, too.

    Handmade Paper

    Making recycled paper from your old bills, newspapers and documents is easy. Simply cut the sheets into tiny pieces (about 1-inch square.) Soak the pieces in a bucket of water for a few hours until soft, drain the water, add three tablespoons of glue or starch and stir. You will notice when the mixture has become a pulp, as the pieces will have broken apart completely. Once you have a pulp, strain the liquid out of the bucket with a piece of cloth or screen. Place a handful of the wet pulp on a dry, flat surface. Use your hands or a piece of fabric to flatten the pulp. Shape the ends with a knife, ruler or other hard object to create straight edges. Place in a sunny and secure location for at least five hours. Your recycled paper can be used as stationary, journal covers or for decoration.

    Milk Carton Puppets

    Help your child transform some old milk jugs into hilarious puppets of Mom, Dad and siblings. Thoroughly clean and dry a milk or juice plastic jug. Using a thick permanent marker or acrylic paint, add a face or any design to the sides of your puppet. You may want to help your child draw the design on a piece of paper first to practice before making a final commitment by drawing on the jug. You can enhance the milk jug puppets more by having your child make embellishments from construction paper or ribbon. Use a hot glue gun to attach the adornments, but be sure to keep your youngster's fingers away until the glue begins to cool. Children will love creating engaging puppet shows with their newly recycled friends.

    Paper Bowls, Jars and Vases

    You can make beautiful bowls, jars or jewelry by rolling any type of colored paper, such as newspaper, magazines or fliers. Begin by making each piece of paper 8- by 11 inches in size. Roll each piece as tightly as possible; each roll should be no more than 1/2-inch in diameter. Spread a little craft glue down the length of the outer edge and press firmly to secure and flatten the roll. Once you have thirty or forty rolls, you are ready to begin creating craft pieces. Beginning with the base, coil one roll in a circular motion. A typical base should be at least five inches in diameter. As each piece ends, use a teaspoon of glue to attach the next rolled piece to continue the shape. You can begin to build up into a jar, bowl or vase shape. Once you have finished, add another teaspoon of glue to secure the pieces. Place in a safe and sunny place in your house for at least five hours. The final colorful artisan craft makes an excellent gift.

    Plastic Bottle Mobiles

    Transform your old plastic bottles into a brand new mobile to hang indoors or outside. Just wash and dry the bottles thoroughly and use a pair of scissors or a cutting knife to cut the plastic bottles into various shapes -- a job for adults only. Circular shapes are the easiest to create. Cut a small hole at the top of the shape. Tie one end of a piece of string to a plastic shape and the other end to a pole, wooden dowel or clothes hanger. Repeat to add as many plastic shapes to the mobile as you like. You can also link multiple shapes together by tying a piece of string to each end.