Recycling is not just good for the environment, it can also inspire creativity and fun school projects! Finding new uses for everyday materials keeps trash out of landfills and reduces waste. If you’re looking for eco-friendly crafts and art projects using recycled goods, this guide will provide plenty of ideas.

Here’s a quick answer if you’re short on time: try making musical instruments from plastic bottles and containers, notebooks from scrap paper, pencil holders from cans, planters from plastic bottles, and sculptures from bottle caps and lids.

In this article, we’ll provide a full list of creative recycling projects for students of all ages. Read on for arts and crafts ideas made from reused paper, plastic, glass, and more.

Paper Crafts from Scraps and Used Books

When it comes to recycling, paper is one of the most commonly recycled materials. Instead of throwing away old books or scrap paper, consider using them for creative school projects. Not only does this help the environment by reducing waste, but it also allows students to unleash their creativity and imagination.

Notebooks from scrap paper

One fun and practical way to reuse scrap paper is by turning it into handmade notebooks. Students can gather scrap paper, such as old assignments or printed pages, and bind them together with colorful thread or ribbon.

This not only gives new life to the paper but also provides a unique and personalized notebook for writing, sketching, or jotting down ideas.

Book page garlands

Another creative idea for repurposing old books is to create garlands using book pages. Students can carefully tear out pages from books that are no longer in use and fold them into origami shapes or simply string them together to create a decorative garland.

These garlands can be used to add a touch of literary charm to school events, bulletin boards, or classroom displays.

Papier-mâché using recycled paper

Papier-mâché is a classic craft technique that can be enhanced by using recycled paper. Instead of using new paper strips, students can tear up old newspapers or magazines and soak them in a mixture of water and glue to create a papier-mâché paste.

This paste can then be used to mold various shapes and forms, such as masks, sculptures, or even piñatas.

Magazine bowls

Magazines are another type of paper that often ends up in the recycling bin. Instead of simply recycling them, students can transform magazine pages into stylish bowls. By rolling up the pages tightly and gluing them together, students can create colorful and unique bowls that can be used for holding small items or as decorative pieces.

By encouraging students to engage in these creative recycling ideas, schools can promote sustainability, teach the importance of repurposing materials, and foster students’ artistic skills. So, next time you have old books or scrap paper lying around, don’t throw them away—turn them into beautiful works of art!

Recycled Containers for Storage and Decor

Pencil holders from cans

One creative way to recycle containers for school projects is by making pencil holders from cans. Simply clean and remove any labels from empty tin cans, and then let your imagination run wild! You can paint the cans in vibrant colors, decorate them with stickers or washi tape, or even add fabric or ribbon for a unique touch.

Not only will these pencil holders help you stay organized, but they also make great personalized gifts for friends or teachers.

Planters from plastic bottles

Another eco-friendly idea for school projects is to repurpose plastic bottles as planters. Plastic bottles are a versatile material that can be transformed into cute, mini gardens. Cut off the top section of a plastic bottle, poke some drainage holes in the bottom, fill it with soil, and then plant your favorite flowers or herbs.

These DIY planters are not only a fun way to recycle, but they also promote sustainability and green living.

Vases from glass bottles

If you have empty glass bottles lying around, why not turn them into beautiful vases? Glass bottles come in various shapes and sizes, making them perfect for displaying fresh flowers or even as standalone decor pieces.

You can paint the bottles in different colors, wrap them with twine or lace for a rustic look, or even add embellishments like beads or gems. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have stunning vases that add a touch of elegance to any room.

Piggy banks from containers

Teaching kids about the importance of saving money can be made more fun and interactive by creating piggy banks from recycled containers. Whether it’s an empty plastic jar or a cardboard box, you can easily transform it into a personalized piggy bank.

Encourage children to decorate their piggy banks with their favorite colors, designs, or even pictures of their dream purchases. Not only will this teach them about money management, but it will also instill a sense of creativity and environmental consciousness.

Art Projects Using Bottle Caps and Lids

Bottle caps and lids are often overlooked when it comes to recycling, but they can actually be transformed into incredible works of art. By repurposing these small, often colorful objects, students can learn about the importance of recycling while also unleashing their creativity.

Here are some innovative art projects that can be done using bottle caps and lids:

Mosaics and Collages

One of the most popular ways to use bottle caps in art projects is by creating mosaics and collages. Students can arrange bottle caps of different sizes and colors to form beautiful patterns or images.

They can experiment with different arrangements and designs, creating unique and eye-catching artwork. This not only helps them develop their artistic skills but also teaches them about color coordination and composition.

Sculptures and 3D Art

Bottle caps and lids can also be used to create sculptures and three-dimensional art pieces. By using glue or other adhesives, students can stack and arrange the caps to form various shapes and structures. They can create animals, buildings, or any other object they can imagine.

This type of project encourages students to think outside the box and experiment with different techniques and materials.


Another creative way to use bottle caps is by turning them into magnets. Students can attach a small magnet to the back of a bottle cap using adhesive, and then they can decorate the front with paint, stickers, or even small objects like beads or buttons.

These magnets can be used to hold up artwork or notes on a refrigerator or any other magnetic surface. It’s a fun and practical project that allows students to showcase their creations while also serving a functional purpose.

Decorative Tiles

Bottle caps and lids can also be used to create decorative tiles. Students can arrange the caps in a pattern on a wooden or cork base and secure them with adhesive. Once the caps are in place, the entire surface can be covered with a clear sealant to create a smooth and glossy finish.

These tiles can be used as coasters, wall decorations, or even as part of a larger mosaic artwork. They add a unique and vibrant touch to any space.

Art projects using bottle caps and lids not only promote recycling and environmental awareness but also provide students with a platform to express their creativity. By repurposing these everyday objects, students can explore different techniques and materials, and create stunning artwork that is both visually appealing and meaningful.

Musical Instruments from Reused Materials

Creating musical instruments from reused materials is a fun and creative way to teach children about recycling and the importance of sustainability. It allows them to explore their artistic side while also learning about the value of repurposing items that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Here are some fantastic ideas for making musical instruments from everyday objects:

Shakers from containers filled with beans, rice, etc.

One simple and effective idea is to make shakers using containers filled with beans, rice, or other small objects. Children can decorate the containers with colorful paper or paint, and then fill them with their chosen material. By shaking the shakers, they can create unique sounds and rhythms.

This not only encourages creativity but also helps develop their sense of rhythm and coordination.

Rainsticks from paper towel tubes

Another exciting project is making rainsticks from paper towel tubes. These instruments mimic the sound of falling rain and create a soothing and relaxing effect. Children can decorate the tubes with paint or adhesive paper, and then add various materials such as small pebbles, rice, or beads.

As they tilt the rainstick, the materials inside will trickle down, creating a calming rain-like sound.

Drums and tambourines from plastic containers

Plastic containers, such as empty yogurt tubs or coffee cans, can be transformed into drums and tambourines. Children can decorate these containers with colorful tape or paper, and then attach drumheads using rubber bands or tape.

By tapping or hitting the drumheads, they can produce different sounds and beats. Tambourines can be made by attaching jingle bells or bottle caps to the sides of the container, adding a fun and jingling element to the rhythm.

Kazoos and pan flutes from tubes and straws

For a more melodic instrument, children can create kazoos and pan flutes using tubes and straws. By cutting the tubes to different lengths and attaching straws as mouthpieces, they can produce various musical notes. It’s a great way to teach kids about pitch and different musical scales.

Additionally, decorating the instruments with stickers or markers adds a personal touch and makes them even more enjoyable to play.

By encouraging children to make musical instruments from reused materials, we not only foster their creativity and musical talent but also instill in them the importance of recycling and repurposing items. These DIY projects can be a great addition to school projects or even family fun nights.

Let’s inspire the next generation to think creatively and sustainably!


With a little creativity and recycled materials on hand, students can make fun crafts that reduce waste and help the planet. These eco-friendly projects teach kids about sustainability while allowing them to express their creativity.

Use this guide to inspire recycling-based art and craft ideas for classrooms or homes.

Helping students find new uses for everyday materials keeps waste out of landfills. Try out these crafts using reused paper, plastic, glass and more for hands-on recycling learning.

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