Mar 27, 2020

Recycling with flair (aka get ready for crafts)

We hope you are staying healthy and sane during these crazy times! Finding ways to stay entertained seems to be getting harder, especially if you have kids at home. Have you thought about reusing your recyclables or re-purposing plastic trash as a crafty pastime? Odds are you have plastic packaging and other items at home that can’t be recycled. Instead of tossing them in the trash, you can reuse them as craft materials. Beyond keeping trash out of the landfill, you’ll also be cutting down on your carbon footprint by reusing something instead of buying new supplies that have to be manufactured and shipped to the store, (You can also pat yourself on the back for staying home instead of heading out to pick up supplies!)

In this spirit, we’re sharing some of our favorite craft projects that you can make with recyclable and trash materials. We even added some educational portions to help you keep your mind sharp. That way, you can impress your friends once we are out in the world again. (Everyone is talking about muscle gains, but what about brain gains?) For more information on our bay and what we do as an organization check out our blogs here.

Getting started: What’s recyclable and what’s not

Don’t know what is currently recyclable? Check out Integrated Waste Management Authority’s webpage, also known as IWMA, to find out what can actually be recycled in SLO County. If you are wondering why certain items used to be recyclable and aren’t now, check out our two recycling blogs here.

Art projects for little kiddos and older

Make macro-invertebrates (aquatic bugs) from an egg carton

Did you know your egg carton is recyclable only if it’s clean? What do you do with the dirty ones? Crafts!

Kids love creepy crawlies, so why not make your own macro- invertebrates?! Macroinvertebraes are insects that are big enough to see with the naked eye. Many of them live in our local creeks and rivers. These little guys are indicators—an ecosystem job that doesn’t get enough attention. It means that they can tell us a lot about the water quality in our creeks and how well those creeks can support fish and other wildlife. If we find dragonflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, or mayflies, we are super stoked! These insects are pollution intolerant, which means that they are really sensitive to pollution. If the creek were filled with pollutants, we wouldn’t find any of these cute critters. (What? We think they’re adorable.) They also serve, honorably, as the main course for our beloved steelhead trout when they are juveniles! Without these bugs, the delicate balance of our creek’s ecosystem would be thrown off.

(A silent thank you is due for these critter’s sacrifice for the fish.)

Caddisflies are nature’s ninjas! They encase themselves with homemade silk add on peddles, sand, and plant material to keep themselves hidden. For this craft you are going to need: something to make the base of the body (we used some Styrofoam), glue, anything that you would like to stick to the body like beads or dry leaves, and googly eyes (you can also draw eyes in).

What most people don’t know is that dragonflies live in freshwater as juveniles until they become beautiful adults. To make this craft you will need: an egg carton, some paint, googly eyes, a small ball (we used a ping pong ball) , glue, and paper for the wings. Bam! A super cute and easy project.

Draw your watershed on recycled paper

Have some crumpled paper packaging? Use it to draw on! Why not draw your watershed while you’re at it?

What is a watershed? It’s an area of land that drains water into a single, larger body of water like a river or the ocean. In Morro Bay, our watershed is the Morro Bay watershed. Everyone lives in a watershed! If you aren’t from the Morro Bay area, check out this map to see what watershed you are in.

You can take an extra step and add labels to your watershed!

Rain gauge from a water bottle

Make your own rain gauge with a water bottle! All you need is:

1.Some sort of plastic beverage container

2. Scissors or another cutting tool

3. A permanent marker

4. Some sort of ruler to measure your gauge

5. Anything else you would like to vamp up your gauge

We used an old water bottle to make this cute water gauge! We named him Mr. Rainy.

Bonus points: Can you make a list of all the reasons why rain is so important? Write down your list and post it near your new rain gauge.

Art projects for those allowed to use tools and older

Bottle cap jewelry

Metal bottle caps aren’t recyclable by themselves. Make sure to place them into a metal can with the lid still partially attached and close the lid. Bam! It is ready for the recycling bin. If you don’t have any empty cans on hand, or you just want to try a bottle-cap craft, you can make jewelry out of them.


Beer bottle caps make super cool earrings! To make the holes we used a hammer and a nail. 

Make bottle cap flowers with the extras

We used old metal bottle caps, but you can use plastic ones too! Supplies needed to make this project: bottle caps, a paper food box, glue, a popsicle stick, and paint to make this cute creation. Remember you can improvise any of the items with others that you have at home!

Ways to reuse clothing

Did you know your clothes aren’t recyclable? To avoid adding more trash to our landfills, when you can, reuse your clothes for other things.

Example: Make your old t-shirt into a reusable bag.

Look at my new cute reusable bag!

(DIY | NO Sew T-Shirt Bag (SO Easy!!)

Want More Crafts? Check Out These Videos





Even More Crafts!

Note: Try not to use glitter for your projects, even though they add a spark to your projects, they are technically micro-plastics. *GASP* Micro-plastics are known to cause hormonal issues in wildlife and possibly in people. Say no to glitter; your earth and your floor will thank you for it.

Click the links to check out these crafty websites!

5 recycling STEM challenges

12 adorable recycled crafts

Toilet Paper Roll Butterfly

You can do so much with this craft! We used an old frozen food box to make the wings. The sky is the limit, have fun with it!

6 Easy Ways To Dress Up A Tin Can

Did you know flimsy plastic, like the ones used to hold berries, isn’t recyclable? Why not use it to store your craft supplies? Have some egg cartons left over? Use them for beads or any other supply that needs some organization. Last, but not least, to the right we have used an old can and wrapped it with left over yarn

We hope these fun little crafts will help you stay sane and healthy at home!

Post pictures of crafts inspired by this post and tag us! @MorroBayNEP on Instagram and Twitter @mbestuary on Facebook.

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