Recycling Ideas and Crafts for Earth Day

Recycling Ideas and Crafts for Earth Day

Let’s be honest- a lot of “recycled crafts” that use items from the trash can or recycle bin are geared toward kids. And while that’s perfectly fine, of course, I prefer recycling ideas and crafts that are more appealing to adults. Especially if they turn out beautifully enough to display at home. So, in honor of Earth Day this year, I thought I’d collect my favorite recycling ideas and Earth Day crafts that don’t look like they started as waste.

Coffee Canister Planter

turning a coffee can into a boho planter

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

If you start your mornings with coffee from a red or blue plastic tub, then you know how quickly those can fill up your recycle bin. Turns out, however, that they can be easily disguised as modern planters for artificial plants with this clever upcycling technique. Would you ever have guessed that this started out as a bright red coffee canister?

Recycling Ideas with Glass Jars

upcycle idea for glass jars

Image credit: Organized Clutter.

Those glass spaghetti jars and soda bottles are ideal for propagating plants like this, aren’t they? You can decorate them if you’d like, but what a wonderful way to grow plants from cuttings by using something you’d otherwise toss in the bin.

Seed Bombs from Paper Mailers

wildflower seed bombs for Earth Day

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

If you order from a certain online retailer and get plenty of those padded paper mailers delivered to your door, then this is the recycled craft for you. The envelope padding is made from recycled paper, and you can re-recycle that pulp into making wildflower seed bombs like these. They’re wonderful as housewarming gifts or wedding shower favors, as well.

Recycling Ideas from the Junk Drawer

Fairy garden furniture from the junk drawer

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

The junk drawer is often referred to as “Trash Purgatory” in our house, because it ends up with stuff we should toss, but don’t. Thankfully, you can create adorable fairy garden furniture like this thanks to junk like bottle caps and pizza box savers. Recycled crafts like fairy garden pieces are extra fun to make with your kids because the supplies are virtually free.

DIY Flower Press

making a flower press from cardboard

Image credit: Salvaged Living.

Pressing flowers for any number of craft projects is always a fun idea (and experiment), but how to do it? Well, a flower press, of course! And you can make your own press by upcycling some cardboard from a recent online order. How cool is that??

Pill Bottle Repurpose

Outdoor key hider

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Not all pill bottles are created equal. But for the child-proof bottles like this, here’s an idea that might get you out of an embarrassing pinch. Add it a DIY concrete stepping stone and you’ll have a tidy little key hider to place out in your garden. No more locked-out frustration with this handy project!

Boho Planters

upcycle idea for boho planters

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

If you’re a lover of interesting planters to use around your home (especially for fake plants), then this recycle bin project is perfect for you. Tin cans from your kitchen are transformed into gorgeous Boho-style planters with the help of something else that is reclaimed/salvaged. Doesn’t it look amazing in a Bohemian space like this?

Wine Bottle Tiki Torches

recycling ideas for wine bottles

Image credit: My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.

DIY wine bottle tiki torches are a fun way to reuse those empty wine bottles for your next outdoor get-together or soiree. They look elegant and fit the theme, plus they add a little ambiance to your backyard event.

Bonus: you can add essential oils during the DIY process which will help them deter bugs, too!

Cardboard Cactus

cardboard cactus

Image credit: The Crafty Lumberjacks.

Cactus plants are super popular right now, but they can be a little dangerous around little fingers and curious paws. But this faux version uses cardboard from your recycling bin to get a similar effect without the pain.

Recycling Ideas with Tin Cans

upcycling a metal utensil holder into art supply storage

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Soup cans or cans from beans/vegetables have all sorts of reuse potential after you’ve cooked in the kitchen. They’re easy to paint and decorate so that you can repurpose them to hold any number of ways. For those of us with kids or lots of craft supplies, they are perfect for keeping things like markers, pens/pencils, and paint brushes tidy.

Padded Mailers as Leather Pouches

faux leather pouch from a paper mailer

Image credit: Homeroad.

There’s nothing in the world quite like well-seasoned vintage leather, is there? And you can recreate the look of a soft, weathered leather pouch with this amazing recycling idea using a padded mailer! Can you believe that that started out as a brown paper envelope? What a transformation…

Recycling Ideas for Tissue Boxes

recycling a tissue box on a desk lamp

Image credit: Birdz of a Feather.

This is definitely one of those recycling ideas that you did NOT see coming! You know those tissue boxes that have gorgeous patterns and designs on them? Well, this desk lamp got the upgrade of a lifetime with a “shade” that was made from cutouts that came from one of those tissue boxes!

DIY Sea Glass Bottles

Sea glass bottles as wine bottle crafts for coastal decor

Photo source: Sadie Seasongoods.

Once you learn that “sea glass paint” is a thing, your empty wine bottles will never be the same! Because you can transform plain, clean wine bottles into DIY sea glass bottles like this! And it’s a spray paint, so anyone (and I mean ANYONE) can make this craft project look this good.

Recycling Ideas with Plastic Bags

fake forsythia from plastic bags

Image credit: Salvaged Living.

One of the early signs of Spring in many yards is the appearance of flowering Forsythia bushes. They’re so happy and cheerful, but only stick around for a short while. Thankfully, you can enjoy them year-round with this fake-out craft project using yellow plastic shopping bags.

Cat Cave from a Cardboard Box

Repurposing tshirts into a DIY cat cave or pet tent

Will a cat hop into the first cardboard box they see? Yes. Will they love it even more if you add one of your old t-shirts to the mix and turn that box into a cave? Absolutely! You can even make a few catnip toys from your old t-shirts, as well.

Earth Day Crafts with Wine Corks

Wine cork trivet

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Look, I’m definitely not going to judge you if you have a stash of wine corks that just keeps growing and growing. Tossing them in the trash feels wasteful, but this recycling idea uses a bunch of them and only takes about 5 minutes to make. This wine cork trivet has become one of the handiest tools in my kitchen, too!

Plastic Bottle Terrariums

mini terrariums made from plastic bottles

Image credit: Pillar Box Blue.

Not only are the little green plants made from plastic bottles, but wine corks are used as their “soil” to anchor them down! Talk about the ultimate recycling craft project– plus it’s a super trendy project in this houseplant-obsessed world.

Recycling Ideas for Cardboard Tubes

DIY fire starter or dryer lint fire starter for emergency prepping

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

These DIY fire starters are SO handy for your fireplace, chimenea, or backyard fire pit- plus they’re easy to make and use things you’d normally toss. Dryer lint, toilet tissue tubes, and wax paper (or newspaper) are the only ingredients you need to make them. There are quite a few recycling ideas out there for toilet tissue tubes, but this one is one of the most useful ones.

Tuna Cans for Office Supplies

office supply storage in tuna cans

Image credit: Birdz of a Feather.

Those tuna or cat food cans that normally end up in the trash or recycling can actually be brilliantly upcycled. And for your office supplies, no less. Isn’t this swing-out organizer for your desk an amazing recycling idea?

Recycling Ideas from Kitty Litter Pails

storage tray from a kitty litter container

Image credit: Hunt & Host/Salvaged Living.

Anyone with cats is familiar with all the plastic containers that kitty litter comes in. But here’s a recycling idea for those large pails- a storage bucket or tray that looks good enough to display at home! Perfect for a guest room or hall table, would you ever guess that that’s what this tray started as?

Fabric Christmas Crackers

fabric christmas crackers from crafting with flannel

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Christmas crackers are a fun little surprise to add to your dinner parties or for wrapping smaller gifts. And while these don’t have the traditional “pop”, they are doubly-repurposed: using old flannel shirts as the fabric and cardboard tubes from paper towels or gift wrap.

The tutorial for this project can be found in my book, “Crafting with Flannel” by Sarah Ramberg.

Recycling Ideas and Craft Projects for Earth Day

earth day crafts for adults

Image credit: Salvaged Living and Sadie Seasongoods.

See? Hopefully I changed your mind about the typical recycling ideas and craft projects that get tossed around for Earth Day. Not all of them are for kids, and many of them have gorgeous results that are good enough for daily (or seasonal) decor! Think you’ll be looking at the things you throw away or toss in the recycle bin differently now?

Craft on!


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recycling projects for adults

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.

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