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25 Great Trash-to-Treasure Crafts

These recycled craft ideas turns old items into prized possessions!

By: Melissa Conner, Editor,
25 Great Trash-to-Treasure Crafts

Recycled crafts are some of the most popular projects we have here at, and it's no wonder why! In addition to the positive environmental impact, trash to treasure crafts are especially frugal, being that they come at no additional cost.

These unique trash-to-treasure crafts are great ways to take things that are old and make them new. Before you throw something out, like an empty glass bottle or an old pair of jeans, take a moment to consider what else you could possibly make with it. Besides being eco-friendly, recycled crafts are also cheaper to make than craft projects that require all-new materials.

Green crafting is an easy way to be kind to the earth and be creative at the same time. Check out the list below and see which of these recyclable materials you already have in your house, and start working on your next project.

Here are 25+ ways to recycle through crafting. Below you'll find crafts with cardboard, plastic bottle crafts, bottle cap projects, pop tab crafts, and more. Some of these recycled crafts are excellent to do with children, and some are surprisingly gorgeous projects for adults. Learn how to make paper beads with brown paper bags for example; they're amazingly pretty!

If you're wondering what to make with recycled materials and even straight-up garbage, explore this collection of 25 Great Trash-to-Treasure Crafts.

Glass Bottle and Soda Can Crafts

One way to reuse bottles is with these Plastic Bottle Crafts Ideas

Use plastic bottles in your garden for a homemade irrigation system. Decorate and/or paint them so they won’t stand out in your garden AS garbage. This is truly a trash to treasure craft!

You can also make Plastic Bottle Cap Crafts:

“Beaded Curtain”- Paint bottle caps different colors (you can paint them red and green for a holiday curtain). Drill a small hole into each and thread onto a string. For evenly spaced “beads” measure and tie a knot before stringing on the next bottle cap. Hang each string from a horizontal line for a beaded curtain.

Use plain bottle caps to create a beautiful lampshade.

Last, you can make Soda Can Tab Crafts:

Create a surprisingly pretty bracelet with pop tabs and elastic cord.

  • Bottle Cap Crosses

    These homemade crafts will recycle your old bottle caps and make something meaningful and beautiful for you to wear. Make one for your friend so that you can wear them together!

  • Mason Jar Vase

    Use some old mason jars to give your plants a new home. The best part is that you can see the roots and soil right through the glass container, so you'll know exactly how your plants are doing. 

  • Bottle Cap Wine Glass Charms

    These adorable wine glass charms will help you to know which glass of wine is yours. Plus, it's a great conversation starter. People will be amazed that you made them yourself out of recycled bottle caps!

  • Soda Can Butterfly Pin

    Attach this stunning butterfly craft to your best friend's birthday present to give it a bit of class. She'll never be able to guess that it was made from a soda can!

  • Plastic Bottle Lid Art

    This tasteful bit of art is made with recycled plastic bottle tops. It's wonderful to make something beautiful out of what would otherwise just be garbage.

  • Smashed Soda Can Animals

    Cute and easy, these soda can animals are a great craft for kids and adults alike. Decorate your house with these funny animals and know that you are making use of a can that would otherwise probably end up in a landfill.

  • Soda Can Coasters

    These easily recognizable coasters will make guests smile. Show off your love for your favorite soda brands with these homemade coasters. Because soda companies change their logos, you can make multiple ones over time to show your longtime devotion to your soda of choice.

  • Pink Flower Water Bottle Bracelets

    Recycle water bottles into fun pink flower bracelets with this craft project from Tiffany Windsor.

  • Water Bottle Storage

    Upcycle some water bottles into storage instead of letting them sit in land fills. You can have an organized craft room while being green if you recycle containers with water bottle storage.

  • Plastic Bottle Birdfeeder

    Instead of sending more plastic to the landfill, turn a plastic bottle into a fun and functional birdfeeder crafted like a birdhouse. This is a great green craft from Heidi Borchers for using the occasional plastic bottle.

  • Bottle Cap Coaster

    Here's a fun classroom project that reinforces the importance of recycling. Encourage kids to save bottle caps and small lids in other neat shapes and sizes, too.

  • Plastic Bottle Lid Art

    Even plastic bottle lids can be recycled for fantastic art projects like this one from Heidi Borchers of Inspired at Home. Turn the lids into a contemporary art canvas that's sophisticated but easy enough for kids to do!

  • Soda Can Flower Box Topper

    This project is a great example of a green craft that is fun and easy. You don't have to spend a ton of money on your craft creations. Instead, save up materials you have around the house. It's a great way to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Cardboard and Paper Crafts

One idea for recycled paper crafts you can make is paper bag crafts.

Paper Bag Crafts

Fans- Cut out a rectangular piece of paper from a paper bag. Paint it or decorate it however you desire. Fold accordion style (turning over after ever fold) and secure the bottom of the folds with a dab of glue on each hold or drill a hole through and secure with a bit of string. Fan out.

Envelope or Mailer- Use a plain paper bag (or with the pointing writing inside) to make a recycled envelope or mailer. Fold a large piece in half and seal the sides. You can even use your sewing machine to stitch the sides closed.

Gift Wrap- Brown paper also makes fantastic gift wrap. Decorate with stencils or spray with a coat of glittery metallic spray (available at craft stores). For a minimalist look, use twine or neutral-colored ribbon to tie around the package.

Spray-Painting Aid- Go outside, place an item to be spray-painted inside of a paper grocery bag and spray away. This certainly cuts down on the mess!

Create a flap album from five paper bags.

Cardboard Box Crafts

Magazine Holder- Cut the top off a cereal box. Halfway across the top, cut a 45 degree angle down to the side of the box, across, and back up at the same angle. Lightly sand with sandpaper. Paint the cereal box a uniform color and tie a ribbon around the box. Or, use stamps to decorate. For sponge painting, simple cut out your preferred shape from a sponge, such as a star or leaf, and use this to paint the box.

  • Brown Bag Place Mat

    Finally, make use of your brown paper bags from the grocery store with this creative trash to treasure craft! It guides you through every step to make your old brown paper bags into attractive homemade placemats.

  • Colorful Paper Pens

    Use old paper to decorate otherwise boring pens.  Use your creativity to make each pen a little different. Before long, you'll have a favorite for every day of the week!

  • Recycled Magazine Cork Board

    This may be one of the easiest crafts you've ever done. All you need is a cork panel from the craft store and some old colorful magazines.

  • Green Crafting Gift Wrap Bow

    Tired of buying holiday bows every single year?  Well, break the cycle once and for all. These attractive gift wrap bows are made completely out of old magazine paper.  Save money, demonstrate your creativity, and get the job done all at the same time!

  • Pizza Box Art

    Pizza boxes have no real use after they are thrown away, so rescue them with this artistic craft. Turn your pizza boxes into canvases that will hold your creative thoughts. Even use scraps of old paper to make a collage!

  • Recycled Paper Bag Bracelets

    Make paper beads from recycled paper bags and use them to make pretty bracelets. Learn how to make friendship bracelets while making paper beads with this craft tutorial!

  • Brown Paper Bag Beads and Pendant

    Reduce, reuse and recycle with this jewelry making craft. Try something new and make Brown Paper Bay Beads and Pendant from Cynthia Gagen. It's a fun project that's totally green.

  • Magazine Holder

    Learn how to decoupage and make cardboard magazine holders with this cardboard box craft. Decoupage and paint a cereal box to turn it into a decorative storage craft.

DIY Organizers and Containers

  • Daisy Container

    This adorable container is made from an old plastic container. Make use of what would usually be thrown away by transforming it into something beautiful!

  • Oatmeal Box Pencil Holder

    Enjoy your oatmeal every morning? Well, use that container after you are done to make a great pencil holder. Decorate it in your own unique way to make it 100% yours.

  • Tin Can DIY Organizer

    If you live in a tiny apartment or just want to save on space in your kitchen, grab some old tin cans and give this unique craft a try.

  • Recycled Yogurt Cup Bud Vase

    There is nothing like the feeling of nurturing new life. Take an old yogurt cup and make a bud vase out of it. Not only will it look attractive and be fun to make, but it also saves the yogurt container from spending an eternity in a landfill.

  • Altered Cookie Tin

    Make use of an old cookie tin to make this neat container for whatever treasures you may want to keep. Decorate it any way you want! It's all up to you, the artist!

  • Burlap DIY Storage Boxes

    Reuse the boxes from your last Amazon order to make these cute storage containers. Why spend $20 on a container from Target when you can make one for free? Seriously though.

Crafts with Fabric Scraps

  • Upcycled Denim Tote Bag

    If you can't bear to part with those ill-fitting jeans, use them to create something completely new. Scrap fabric crafts are a great way to save on fabric and breathe new life into old or sentimental items. Carry this tote to the mall or grocery store - it's big enough to hold all of your essentials.

  • Place Mat Purse

    Bought one too many placemats? Save it and use it to create a pretty purse. This sewing pattern shows that crafts from recycled materials can be just as stylish as their store-bought counterparts.

  • Placemat Travel Jewelry Case

    Never lose an expensive piece of jewelry again. This case will help you stay organized when traveling. If you are looking for quick and easy trash to treasure ideas, you'll love this fun project.

  • Easy Tee Shirt Necklace Tutorial

    No yarn? No problem. Kids and adults alike love these easy recycled crafts and this one is super easy. In fact, you can make this project in just minutes, making it the afternoon project. If you have old shirts, you can make all kinds of trash to treasure crafts.

  • Repurposed Fabric Tote

    For these scrap fabric crafts, you won't need to buy anything. Use what you already have and create this delightful bag. This is also a great gift idea for a fashionable friend.

  • Denim Needle Case

    Looking for crafts from recycled materials? You're sure to love this eco-friendly and frugal craft idea. In fact, you can store all of your sewing essentials in this case, making organization a snap.

  • Rags-to-Rugs Craft

    Make your own floor covering with some old T-shirts or leftover pieces of fabric that you have in your craft room. It's easy, and best of all, it's free! 

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