Fun ways to encourage recycling at home

If you want to get the whole family involved in recycling, forget the recycling bin. Tossing old newspapers and cardboard tubes into it probably isn’t the best way to get the kids motivated about recycling. Create some recycling excitement with these fun recycled crafts that re-purpose used items.

mom and kids doing crafts

Shrink art

Remember how cool it was to make Shrinky Dinks as a kid? Introduce your family to a new way of making shrink art that uses leftover plastic boxes instead of a store-bought kit.

You’ll need:

  • Clean plastic (clear plastic used for takeout boxes and some berry boxes from the grocery store) with #6 inside the recycling arrows
  • Sharpie markers
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum foil


  1. Open the clamshell container and cut apart the top and bottom. Trim off the edges and recycle them.
  2. Cut remaining flat sheets of plastic into desired sizes. Punch a hole in each piece, if you want to use as charms on necklaces or bracelets.
  3. Have kids decorate or write on plastic with pens however they wish.
  4. Place plastic art on aluminum foil (with edges of foil bent up to form a tray) on lowest oven rack.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for two to three minutes, depending on size. You’re looking for plastic to shrink to about 1/3 of its original size.
  6. Use oven mitts to remove foil from oven, and show the kids their amazing recycled art.

Melt and mold old crayons

While socks seem to disappear on a regular basis, you’ve probably noticed that the opposite is true for crayons. They come home with the kids from birthday parties, restaurants and school. Plus, you’ve probably bought some yourself, because there’s something irresistible about a box of fresh, sharp crayons.

Instead of having the kids throw broken, stubby crayons away, show them how old materials can be repurposed into new and improved objects with this upcycled crayon project.

You’ll need:

  • Broken crayon pieces in many colors
  • Muffin tin
  • Aluminum foil


  1. Line each muffin cup with a separate piece of foil. (Do not skip this step, or you might ruin your muffin tins.)
  2. Have your kids take all the paper off crayon pieces and fill each foil-lined muffin cup half full of crayon bits. No need to pack them in tightly.
  3. Put muffin tin in preheated 350 degree F oven and heat for five to seven minutes. Make sure you watch carefully and remove from the oven just as they’re melting together.
  4. Let muffin tin cool completely. Have the kids remove each crayon from the tin and peel off the foil. Flip the crayons over and see their pretty, swirly designs on the bottoms.
  5. Set out some paper, and let the kids get creative with their new recycled crayons.

More on recycling at home

Things you didn’t know you could recycle
How to teach your man to recycle

Give your garbage a second life

Stylish recycling solutions


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