You may not know this about me: in addition to spending as much time in the garden as possible, I’m an author and freelance writer. Much of my writing over the past decade has included developing craft projects for kids. It’s probably a combination of my desire to waste less, my frugality, and sheer laziness, but whatever the reason, I prefer to craft with items that I have on hand. Items that would otherwise be tossed out (by me or someone else) such as plastic containers, magazines, and cardboard tubes. Those kits that come with everything you need to build a specific tchotchke may be handy, but they come with packaging and (often plastic) parts that have been manufactured just for the kit. Creating a part just to include it in a craft project seems silly to me.
I prefer the pioneer method of crafting. Take what’s on hand or used up and turn it into a different usable item. Worn out clothing becomes a quilt or a rag rug. Tree branches become a gate. Corn husks become a doll.
In our modern society, when there are so many cast off items it seems utterly ridiculous to buy pre-made materials to create a craft project, doesn’t it? If you’ve got kids in the house, or are a crafter yourself, think for a moment of the possibilities: magazines, newspapers, cardboard tubes, cardboard and paper board boxes, plastic containers, milk cartons, prescription bottles, dry ink pens, bottle caps…
Instead of looking at your waste (or your neighbor’s waste) as garbage, think of it as raw material. With basic supplies like glue, tape, paper, yarn, thread, and fabric, you can keep your kids occupied with craft projects that give a second life to our waste stream. Adult tastes in crafts might require more refined materials, but trust me when I say I’ve seen some amazing craft projects using cast off items. Gather these recycled supplies in a big “project box” so you’ll be ready the next time the craft bug hits.
Flea Market Gardening has some fun projects for using second-hand treasures, including this cute garden tower made of glass.
Decorate a Wall with Vending Machine Toy Capsules (mind you, I’m not suggesting that you start buying trinkets out of vending machines; I just thought this was clever).
Salvage broken plates to make a bird bath or garden art.
What kind of recycled craft projects do you do? Is there a great blog or site that you recommend for inspiration?