Affordable Recycled Craft Ideas

With Earth Day coming up on April 22, what better time to celebrate with some fun recycled craft ideas? I love shopping for craft supplies, but I’m also a firm believer in using what you have on hand, especially when it comes to kids – because let’s be honest, they don’t typically care how much the materials cost. They just want to make things and have fun!

Here are some easy trash-to-treasure project ideas using nothing more than some basic tape, glue and scissors along with supplies pulled straight from the recycling or trash bin. As always, simply adjust your level of guidance based on your child’s age and ability, and take special care when using sharp scissors, craft knives or hot glue.

Cardboard Box Robot

Kids will love making and playing with this!

Kids will love making and playing with this!

What you need:

  • Food box (boxes with windows make great open mouths!)
  • Assorted plastic and aluminum bottle caps
  • Aluminum foil
  • Double-sided tape
  • Hot glue and/or craft glue
Your supplies

Your supplies

How to make it:
  1. If using a box with a window opening, remove any remaining packaging.
  2. Wrap box with aluminum foil and adhere with double-sided tape (an adhesive tape runner works well). Cut or tear away the foil covering any “mouth” windows and fold excess to the inside.
  3. Stack and nest bottle caps together to create eyes, gears, an antenna and other facial parts as desired, using glue to assemble. NOTE: While hot glue will make this process quicker than regular craft glue, it is very dangerous and should be used by adults only. Robot should be handed off to children only after glue is 100% cool and dry!
Buttons are fun!

Buttons are fun!

Cardboard Box Village

Make your own village.

Make your own village.

What you need:

  • Food boxes
  • White paper
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Black marker
  • Crayons and/or markers for child to color
  • Decorative or Scotch tape (optional)
  • To make a car, you’ll also need a toilet paper roll, four similar plastic bottle caps and hot glue.
Raid your recycling box for these supplies.

Raid your recycling box for these supplies.

How to make houses and buildings:
  1. If boxes have a “window” opening on one side, remove any remaining plastic packaging. If desired, cut away more cardboard to enlarge the openings and create “doors.”
  2. Cut white paper to size, wrap it around the boxes, and adhere with double-sided tape (an adhesive tape runner works well). Be sure to cut away holes for any doors or windows. If desired, cover corners with decorative or Scotch tape. (Don’t worry too much about being exact! It’s not worth the stress.)
  3. Use a black marker to draw simple doors, windows, flowers and more onto your boxes for your child to color. (Older children can draw their own.)
  4. Let your child use crayons and/or markers to decorate and play with their crafty new village!

VillageHowTo1

How to make a simple car:
  1. Cut a small rectangle from one side of a toilet paper roll.
  2. Cut a piece of white paper to size, trimming away a space for the rectangle. Wrap paper around toilet paper roll and adhere with tape.
  3. Hot glue four plastic bottle caps to the sides for wheels.
Make sure you can tool around town in style!

Make sure you can tool around town in style!