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Recycled Crafts – Creative upcycle and downcycle ideas

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Recycling is big nowadays, with more focus than ever being placed on reusing unwanted items, or turning them into something else. While some new uses are obvious, such as ‘upcycling’ clothes by adding pretty details, or painting old, worn furniture, hundreds of other, less likely items can be turned into all sorts of crafty creations, by adults and children alike. Here are some ideas for reusing your rubbish.


DVD mosaics

Cut up old DVDs and CDs into irregular pieces. Colour them different shades  with waterproof markers if you wish. Glue the pieces in an attractive pattern to an old flowerpot, garden table or anything you wish to decorate. Make sure the surface is clean and dry first. Use cement or plaster of Paris to fill in the gaps, wiping the mosaic pieces clean before it sets hard.

Decorate and celebrate

Break up old bead necklaces to add adornments to old clothes, or to brighten up bags and cushions. To make a fancy wreath, cover a stiff cardboard circle with some fabric and sew buttons and ribbons to it in colours that match your interior decor. Paint old keys and string them up in a line outside to act as a cheap and easy wind chime. Or cut up some corks, glue them in a circle and varnish to make some unique drinks coasters.

Junk animals

Children can have great fun turning old, clean egg boxes into crocodiles or socks into cute puppet friends. Pine cones make great hedgehogs, while cellophane sweet wrappers would help decorate a gorgeous underwater picture full of fish and seashells. Collect a box of old cardboard, fabric off-cuts, empty cartons, paints, glue and scissors. Then, let their imaginations run wild!

Decoupage frames

Old picture frames can be picked up very cheaply in a charity shop. To decorate them, cut up old magazines and glue them to the frame in an interesting pattern. Or you could use old postcards, paint colour charts or even bits of material to do this. Once finished, add two coats of strong varnish to add some shine and help your creation last.

Thinking outside the box

Don’t mindlessly throw things away without considering whether they might be able to be used elsewhere. For instance, interesting suitcases and trunks could be turned on their side and transformed into a quirky bedside table. Bits of pipework can become slim flower vases, while old wine bottles can be turned into candlesticks. Even car tyres can be painted bright colours and put in the garden as planters.

Alternative uses

Again, some lateral thinking will produce some unusual additions to your home. A cheese grater could become an earring holder, for instance. Or an old pair of jeans can be stitched into a bag. How about turning an old garden rake upside down and using it to hang wine glasses from? Or a chipped serving dish into a bird bath?

Put simply, the world is your recycled oyster when it comes to reusing items you no longer need. Pinterest is brimming with more inspiration and ways to slow down the stream of rubbish destined for landfill. Plus, if you get started now, you will have a nice collection of homemade, unique items to give as Christmas presents…

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