If you're trying to be environmentally conscious, you're probably already recycling paper, glass, and plastic, bringing your own reusable bags when you go grocery shopping, and trying to use your car as little as possible. But do you ever find yourself wishing that you didn't have to throw away so many household items? Here are some quick and easy ways to recycle everyday objects...by turning them into something else!
Reusing old greeting cards and Christmas cards. If you neatly cut the message side off of the card, you'll be left with a pretty postcard! Just write an address and a message, attach a postcard stamp (you even save on postage!), and you're ready! Another option is to attach the front (picture) side of the card to cardstock to make a new card. Christmas cards can also be reused as postcards, or the picture part can be cut out and used as holiday gift tags.
Turning old milk cartons into bird feeders. A great eco-friendly craft project for kids! These everyday objects can be recycled to benefit the birds in your neighborhood. The birds don't care if the birdfeeder is a fancy store-bought one or not, and your kids will have fun cutting and hanging the milk carton and filling it with seeds every day. The whole family will enjoy getting to know the birds that come for breakfast. This is also a great craft for your child to bring to school.
Organizing with tin cans. Tin cans can be washed out and decorated with wrapping paper or contact paper on the outside, making a great container for crayons, pencils, pens, paintbrushes, and other art supplies. These are perfect organizers for home or the classroom - there is no need to buy fancy plastic organizers whlen you already have objects sitting around ready to be reused.
Old CDs to keep birds away! If you've ever been frustrated with birds eating all the fruit off of your fruit trees, here's a great idea! Reuse old CDs which are scratched, which you no longer listen to, or which AOL sent you one too many of, and hang them from branches using fishing line. The light reflecting off the CDs bothers the birds enough to keep them away from the fruit!
Bicycle inner tubes are very versatile. These handy objects can be recycled and reused in several creative ways. Use an inner tube to tie plants to garden stakes, or in place of bungee cords to secure loads on trucks or roof racks. Cover chains with a used inner tube if you need to prevent the chain from rubbing against a surface that could be gouged. You can even make watertight wallets or pouches by using sheet metal, glue, and bicycle inner tubes.
Forget the wrapping paper! Instead of buying new wrapping paper, reuse old maps that are outdated or that you no longer need. These maps make attractive colorful wrapping, as do the Sunday comics in the newspaper! Newsprint roll-ends can often be obtained for free from newspaper offices, and children can create their own decorative wrapping paper, using markers, stickers, and other art supplies. Even old pillowcases can be used as gift bags with a pretty ribbon to tie the opening!
Reuse old magazines. Pretty magazine pages can be folded to make envelopes - just unstick another envelope at its edges, unfold it, and trace on the magazine page. Fold it back up and glue it into an envelope shape. You can also make a wastebasket out of magazines. Roll up the pages very tightly and glue them to a large ice cream container or some other type of tub.
Use your sewing/crocheting/knitting skills. If you know how to sew, knit, or crochet, you can reuse many household items. Old sheets can be sewn into curtains or pillowcases, old towels into laptop cases, and old dishcloths into throw pillows. Old clothes are another good resource. Instead of buying cleaning rags, cut up your old clothes. Use the waistband of old painter's pants to make a tool belt. Some crafty folks have even created patterns for knitting and crocheting those plastic grocery bags (that cause us so much trouble) into reusable tote bags!
Reuse old paper. Recycling and reusing old paper can be as simple as using the reverse side of paper for kids' art projects. However, reusing old paper to make new paper can be an art project in itself! Place ripped up paper in a blender with water and blend to make a pulp. Put this mixture in a large tub or basin with some liquid starch. Use a tightly stretched window screen as a frame, and dip this frame into the pulpy mixture. Drain the water and make sure the mixture is even, then invert it onto a piece of fabric. Wait for your new paper to dry.
Don't toss your old clothes. Of course, if the clothes are still in good condition, they can be given to a shelter or a charity which will gladly accept them. If they aren't quite wearable anymore, try using them for children's dress-up - if you don't have children, contact your local preschool! Or dress up a scarecrow in your old clothes and put it out in your garden.
Of course, saving the environment is up to all of us - no one person can do it alone. However, if each of us does our part, we will be on our way. Finding alternate uses for items that would otherwise end up in a landfill helps reduce waste, and can inspire others. It can even be fun as you explore your creative side!