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Ideas to Make Things Out of Recycled Items

By Katherine Kally ; Updated June 13, 2017

Make decorative and functional things for your home and garden out of recycled items. With a little imagination, you can create furniture, lighting, garden art and personal accessories from materials destined for the recycling plant or the landfill. Get the kids involved with your recycled crafts to teach them to think outside the box.

Old Window Décor

Recycle old windows into functional furniture and accessories for your home or garden, such as a table, shelf, wall art or room divider. Attach four decorative table legs to an old window frame to make a coffee or occasional table. You can also create a shadow box table by hinging the old window to the top of a shallow wooden box with legs. Attach a 4-inch wide strip of wood across the length of the bottom frame or center mullion of an old window to make a decorative shelf to hang on the wall. Paint the window frame and the panes to create decorative wall art. To make a room divider from old windows, suspend one from an interior ceiling joist or from the open side of a porch using two decorative chains. Attach the chain to the window frame with screw-eye hooks. Attach several windows in a vertical row to make a longer hanging room divider.


Create luminaries for your patio or garden with recycled cans. You can use any size can from large coffee cans to small soup cans to make the luminaries. Clean the cans inside and out; this includes removing all of the advertising. Paint the outside of the cans with acrylics, and then puncture holes all around the can. A rotary tool with a metal bit works to make the holes. You can also fill the can with water, freeze it and then make the holes with a hammer and a nail. Hammering a nail into a solid surface will not dent the cans. Place votive candles or tea lights inside the cans to create ambient lighting. Glue flat-backed glass marbles over the holes to diffuse the light with color. Attach a strip of 22-gauge craft wire across the top to make a hanger for the recycled luminary.

Soda Bottle Bird Feeders

Make functional and decorative bird feeders from recycled plastic soda bottles. Remove the advertising labels from the bottles and clean the bottles thoroughly. Decorate the outside of the plastic bottles with acrylic paint or embellish them with mosaic tiles, glass marbles or buttons. Make sure to use waterproof adhesive to attach items to the soda bottle. Make four perches for the birds at the base of the soda bottle; insert two thin dowels crossways through the bottle, 1/2-inch or so from the bottom. Leave 1/2-inch of the dowel ends exposed outside the soda bottle. Cut access holes above each perch; leave the cutout on the bottle as a protective flap at the top of the openings. The flap will help direct water around the food opening.

Cereal Box Tote

With a little creativity, you can make a tote or a purse from a recycled cereal box. Cover the outside of the box with fabric, recycled wrapping paper, placemats or acrylic paint. Embellish the covered or painted box with beads, ribbons, buttons, rhinestones or paper cutouts. Decoupage glue works best to attach photos and paper cutouts; viscous craft glue works best for heavier things. Add strands of ribbon, hemp or leather cording to make handles for your cereal box tote.

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