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Topic: Recycling Household Trash/Clutter into Useful things

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Subject: Recycling Household Trash/Clutter into Useful things
Date Posted: 10/9/2010 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 30
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My daughter has been cleaning her closet out this week and ended up with a pile of plastic coat hangers.  I searched on the internet for ways to recycle them (they are #5 and our recycling center only does

#1 and #2) or reuse them.   I found this idea for making chip clips : http://www.ehow.com/how_5010297_recycle-clip-hangers-chip-clips.html . 

We now want to make gift bags of recycled items for Christmas to spread the idea of recycling and at the same time give an original gift!  I thought it would be neat to create a thread where we could share our "trash to treasure" ideas.

So what neat things do you make out of your household clutter?


Date Posted: 10/16/2010 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 335
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Carolyn, I hope someone posts a response here because so far all my household trash is still.... well..... trash.

Date Posted: 10/20/2010 12:21 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2009
Posts: 579
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Well, I've been known to eat off anything I can stick in the dishwasher. Cat bowls, candle stands, ummm... those Tupperware top that you've lost the bottom for.

I made a project for my sculpture class out of my old Atari games. And I've also made a wind chime from CDs and pop tabs.

Not really getting rid of the clutter am I? LOL. I'll need some ideas from others too!


In lieu of brilliant things to do, lets start with the things I have in abundance... nail polish bottles, peanut butter jars, toilet paper rolls, pop tabs... these are things I need to find uses for!

I saw a store on Etsy that chopped the top off beer bottles and beveled the edges smooth to make juice glasses. :)

Last Edited on: 10/20/10 12:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/27/2010 8:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2009
Posts: 210
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old cardboard, fabric scraps, and a bit of filler,  can be made into memory boards   : http://www.ehow.com/how_4505519_make-fabric-memo-board.html



just use the cardboard instead of bulletin board. and if you want it to be stronger just glue a few pieces of the cardboard together, its hidden by the fabric so no one will be able to tell :P oh and ive used a gluegun instead of  staples... actually i made mines quite a bit different from this, but it gives a geneal idea lol

Date Posted: 11/10/2010 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2006
Posts: 6
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Check freecycle.org ... there are freecycle groups all over the US. The goal is to keep useable items out of a landfill & into the hands of someone who can use the item. I belong to a local freecycle group .. there's TONS of interest for all sorts of items you would not even THINK others might need. So please, if you have any item you're going to toss (which is still useful / functional) please consider this option. 

Date Posted: 11/16/2010 11:07 AM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2007
Posts: 21,120
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OMG i love this thread and the clips made from hangers... i will NO longer throw those hangers away..thanks

Date Posted: 11/20/2010 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2007
Posts: 457
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I've been looking for ideas for recycling household items and craft ideas and stumbled across this last night:  http://www.craftstylish.com/item/39111/how-to-make-a-mosaic-with-your-old-plastic I had really been looking for a craft to do with hotel key cards (I swear I don't steal them, but travel for work and have 5 or 6 at this point that I've just forgotten to turn back in), if anyone has other ideas I'd love to hear them as well!

I'm so excited to do this. I can't wait to go buy a frame to make one.

I'm also looking for an idea for something else very specific, I have all my old girl scout badges and I want to make a project out of them. I was thinking about putting them on something and framing them, but I'm not sure how. Should I just glue them to a piece of colored cardboard, or sew them onto a fabric? Will they fit behind a regular frame? All ideas are appreciated!

Date Posted: 11/27/2010 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2009
Posts: 621
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old prepaid cards - stick a peel and stick business card magnet on the back to make magnets

ring from milk jug => cat toy

nylons with runs / holes (cut toe open, then cut near the run / hole to make the nylon lie flat) => provide drainage while keeping dirt in flower pots

small containers from Weight Watchers ice cream => dish for stray cats outside

plastic sandwich bags => rinse, dry, then use for non-food purposes

buckets from kitty litter => Church uses them to carry craft supplies to park for Vacation Bible School and to put food / clothes in when handing out items at food bank (the buckets are sturdier than cardboard boxes)

dryer lint => bird nest liner (just put it outside where the birds can find it)

stryofoam packing peanuts => pin / needle holder for traveling or craft class kits

(eta) old clothes => rags, crazy quilts, or pillows / toys for animals (especially animals in local shelters)

I would probably do the idea with the credit cards as a brooch instead of a frame

Last Edited on: 11/27/10 10:36 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Braided Cloth Leash
Date Posted: 12/5/2010 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 30
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As a dog owner I like this one -I imaging you could use leftover fabric, old blankets, maybe towels? 


Subject: Found a Great Site with lots of ideas...
Date Posted: 12/7/2010 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 30
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I was looking for craft ideas for my daughter and found this: http://www.favecrafts.com

They have a whole section on green crafts and some cute ideas. I love their jean recycling ideas. 


Subject: Decorative Coffee Cans
Date Posted: 12/9/2010 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 30
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Instead of buying containers to give to your friends and family, why not make your own.  So simple and so much nicer than the dollar store containers.

Here's a link to a site with some downloadable templates: http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/free-printable-folgers-coffee-can-labels/


Templates from Folgers: http://www.folgers.com/promotions-activities/can-decorator.aspx

Maybe we can start sharing PHOTOS of some of the projects we've done...I'm having a lot of fun with this thread!


Last Edited on: 12/9/10 10:07 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2009
Posts: 621
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Almost forgot - several years ago, I bought a template to make my own C-6 envelopes.  C-6 envelopes aren't easily found in the US and I need them to mail postcards (when I'm sending several to one person at once), and with the template, I make envelopes every January out of the previous year's calendars!

Date Posted: 12/12/2010 3:07 AM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 39,213
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styrofoam packing peanuts-  I use them in spring when planting my annuals in large pots.  I fill the bottom third of the pot with the peanuts and put the soil on top.  Makes them lighter if you want to move them and you use less soil.

Old magazines and papertowel rolls-   Make boot trees-   roll up the magazine lengthwise and stick inside the papertowel roll.  You can use it like that, but if you want to decorate it, wrap with a scented drawer liner.

Date Posted: 12/20/2010 9:18 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 30
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Here's another link with lots of ideas: http://www.allfreecrafts.com/recycling-crafts/index.shtml

It even has ways to reuse dryer lint, old light bulbs and breadcrumbs!

Date Posted: 12/24/2010 6:39 AM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2009
Posts: 621
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Empty film canisters - carry spare batteries

Empty prescription bottles - hold beads and other things cats and kids shouldn't be able to open

Date Posted: 12/25/2010 12:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2005
Posts: 4,579
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In high school I used to use the empty film canisters as portable shot glasses.  Kids today miss out on so much fun now that cameras are digital

Date Posted: 12/27/2010 12:23 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2009
Posts: 88
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I'm so glad to see this thread! I lost a lot of weight and had to buy new clothes. I had some stuff that I also didn't wear very much. Of course I donated everything that was decent and that I wasn't attached to, but there was still some stuff I couldn't get rid of. Here is what I did with them:

For clothing that had holes (mostly jeans):

I cut the seam out of them, and cut them into pieces I could use for other projects. For one project, I kept the seams and made a cat/small dog bed. For another project, I cut the peices into evenly sized squares and quilted with them. You can also make little flowers out of the seams that you cut out of the jeans. :)

For t-shirts I was attached to but didn't fit:

Cut the sleeves and top of the shirt off, so you are left with a large rectangle. sew the bottom closed. Cut the sleeves so they are also longer rectangles. Sew them so they are thiner, and turn them inside out to hide the seam. Sew the two handles onto what was the top of the shirt and you have a new bag!!

You could also cut the bottom of the shirt to make the bag smaller in length, and use that as your handle, so it has a strap rather than handles.


Hope someone else can use this!

Date Posted: 1/2/2011 6:28 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2010
Posts: 19
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Here are a few from my house:

1. Food boxes / Cardboard boxes: Get some paper or fabric (like magazine pages or fabric salvaged from damaged/unwearable clothing if you want to be extra thrifty). Cut and glue the boxes into useful accessories like a tea organizer, desk organizer, organizing tray, nesting boxes, a memory box, time capsul, a box for pet-supplies, sewing kit, ect. and cover them in the paper or fabric. This "craft" is called cartonnage. Its very simple and you can get REALLY creative with it. You can also save food boxes for mailing materials. I'm working on one at the moment that will be a sorting tray for my sock drawer and another to use for my large tea stash.

2. Jars, Coffee cans or similar: Clean them out really well. For jars, you can use them to store office / crafting supplies. I save all of our kimchi jars and decorate them a bit and fill them with my craft supplies (like  buttons). Some of them have their lids glued to the bottom of my shelf and are actually decorations (they are filled with color-sorted crafting whimseys). The coffee tins are good for saving seeds, small amounts of gardening soil/plant food, storing nuts, bolts or cords in the garage, ect.

3. Used Coffee: Dry it out so it doesn't mold (I have an old baking tray that I line with wax paper and spread it on that). It can then be put in a little burlap or cheesecloth baggy (you can use recycled cloth) and put in the freezer in place of baking soda. Or in with your shoes. It deters ants pretty well, I lined the edge of my patio and garden with it and it has made a difference (not fool proof, but there aren't ant beds all along my back patio any more.) And it goes great in the compost heap.

4. I reuse mailing supplies. I don't rip open my mail, I cut it open neatly so that I can re-use it. There are mailing materials EVERYWHERE, and I do a lot of swap and mail correspondence so I am not inclined to buy it all new. Most of those I swap and correspond with do the same. Its actually a habit I picked up from swap-bot.

5. When I go to certain stores, they give nice bags and the purchase is wrapped in tissue paper. When I get home, I neatly fold these and tuck them away for later use. The bags are sturdy and make decent reusable totes. The tissue paper is usually solid colored and can be reused in gift wrapping. If the tissue paper is branded, I can use it as packing material.

6. Old linens are saved for the pets... And then later the garage. So when a blanket goes out of use, it becomes a crate liner for the foster dog or shelf liner for the cats. Then, it will eventually get cut into small squares as oil rags in the garage.

7. Old pots make great starting planters for the garden. Egg cartons / egg trays / old icecube trays are great for starting seeds too.

8. Ruined books or old magazines and maps can be made into handmade envelopes. If the ruined book is a hard-back, you can salvage the cover to make a hand-made journal. You can also use salvaged paper to weave baskets.

9. Old coffee cups make cute planters or pencil holders. Chipped mugs make fine scoops for flour, rice, pet food, ect.

10. Candle jars (the ones with tight seals, like Yankee), once the candle is finished and cleaned out, make useful storage containers. Such as a sugar jar in the kitchen or to keep herbs in the pantry.

11. Pringles containers make an easy project for kids to make coin banks out of. Simply cut a slit in the top and let the kids decorate their new bank however they want.

12. Wine corks can be carved into stamps for ink or paint. They can be made into trivets. They can be made into ornate cork-boards for decoration. Used with bird houses, sliced thin and used as buffers on some furniture to protect the floor.


Thats all I can think off at the moment. :/


Last Edited on: 1/2/11 6:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/2/2011 10:35 PM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2005
Posts: 505
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I make feed scoops out of dishwasher detergent  bottles or any other heavy plastic bottles (bleach, liquid detergent, etc..  Just cut off the bottom and then make a diagonal cut starting at the bottom opposite the handle and going up to just beneath the handle.  You can make it whatever size you need. They're great for scooping bird feed, or dog, cat or any animal feed. I have a farm so I use lots of scoops.   Even the cut off bottoms can be holders or soap dishes, etc.

Date Posted: 1/20/2011 9:05 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 30
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I have just realized something.....we throw out a small fortune regularly. Have you been to craft stores lately? I was assembling some projects for my daughter to make...beads, magnets, metal rings and snaps...man that stuff is expensive.  I wonder if  there is  a place where you can swap craft supplies?   managed to snag some of the stuff I needed off of some old purses.  I realized a lot of what I needed I had probably thrown out in the last year attached to something!  So this is just a heads up if you're decluttering...take a look a look at what you're throwing out...remove snaps, metal rings, magnets, zippers etc.  Somewhere there must be a place for trading craft stuff?

Date Posted: 2/28/2011 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2011
Posts: 31
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I used old CDs by gluing them back to back so the shiny sides faced out.  Then you can hang them in a garden to frighten away birds [the flashes of light spook them] or you could make a mobile out of them.  I painted cool designs on mine [like spiderwebs] and made a mobile.  They also look really neat if you take lace [especially black] and sort of poof it out over them... It's hard to explain without a picture, but it looks really neat.

Also, if you have any unwearable shirts [you know, the ones you've worn for ages and now they're full of holes and all ratty looking?] but you don't want to throw them away, you can cut them up and make small quilts out of them.  They don't even have to look that great, but they'll hold memories for you.


Date Posted: 2/28/2011 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2011
Posts: 31
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Also, I saw this neat thing in a Halloween decorating edition of a magazine [I absolutely LOVE Halloween decorations and often use them year-round].  If you have a book that's really destroyed, you can take the page out and paste it to the edge of a clear votive candle holder.  The effect should be that the light shines through a little bit, but gives a spooky air of a dusty old library, or Edgar Allen Poe, or something.  I haven't gotten a chance to try it myself because I don't have any books that are so bad that I'd be able to justify ripping a page out of =w=;;

I got a mug for Christmas last year.  I have tons of mugs; way more than I need...  But I took it anyway because it was cute.  However, I got home and was carrying a bunch of stuff [mostly books] and dropped it D: It broke on the floor into about four big-sized pieces.  I was going to throw it away, but rethought it, and now it's glued together with soil in it, waiting for some seeds :)  [I could glue it back together but didn't want to risk trying to drink out of it].  This can go for any sort of glass container that you drop.  Just make sure not to injure yourself on the pieces ~

Date Posted: 3/2/2011 11:42 AM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2010
Posts: 39
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I save those plasic containers the food from the deli comes in. They are really sturdy and the lids stay on tightly. They work GREAT for storing little things like crafting supplies, sorting legos, jewelry and loose change. Sometimes I give them to people who need little storage containers and that way they don't have to buy new ones. It's amazing how much new plastic storage organizers can cost... lol.

EDIT: If you punture holes in the bottom of the smaller ones, theyd make good containers when starting out seedlings.

Last Edited on: 3/2/11 12:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/16/2011 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/25/2007
Posts: 1,253
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My daughter is taking a sculpture class and the art teacher keeps all kinds of objects, even wires from old electronics and a broken hairdryer. So if you have some stuff to throw out, check with a local school and see if the art department could use it.