Crafty ways to teach kids about recycling

by SeanSPaul

Doing craft activities with children at home can be a great way to teach them the value of recycling.

Using unwanted household paper, card, tins and plastic to make things out of is fantastic fun in itself but it also offers the ideal opportunity to discuss the need for recycling with kids.

Totems taped onto empty cardboard rolls
Totems taped onto empty cardboard rolls

One rainy day I was clearing out my kitchen when I hit on a great idea. I could use the objects destined for the civic recycling bins to make things with my children. This craft activity would not only fill an otherwise dreary rainy afternoon it would also mean we all got to discuss waste and recycling whilst we had our fun.

Craft activities are a great way to be creative with objects which otherwise would be discarded. Together we turned an oversized flat-packed furniture box into a track for toy cars and then made totem poles from cardboard tubes, rockets from old cans and night light holders from jars and the brightly coloured gems from a broken piece of costume jewellery.

The possibilities are endless but here are some other crafty ways you can teach your kids about recycling and have some great imaginative fun too.

Personalised CD coasters

A collection of old CD's and DVD's
A collection of old CD's and DVD's

Round up your old CDs from the car or house and make everyone their own mug placemat with this clever recycling idea for a kid’s craft project. We used our PC and printed labels from the barcode printers I use for my job, but any household printers will do. In fact, you could even draw by hand on circular labels if you wished.


  • Make your designs on the PC to fit on a 3 ½ inch circular sticker. You can make them smaller if you want a shiny edge from the CD.
  • Print them out and apply to the CD – place it on the shiny (data) side.
  • Cover the CD with Con-Tact paper to protect it.


CD banner

There is just so much you can do with old CDs! We also made a banner saying ‘Recycling Is Great’ that we hung up in the room as we transformed the things that the everyday folks leave behind into works of art.

  • Collect together old CDs.
  • Design an image for the background and place a letter on each.
  • Print your labels to go over the CDs – stick them on the shiny (data) side.
  • We stuck these up to the wall using Blu-tack but you could stick them all to a banner or strip of poster paper.

More possibilities

Cardboard tube fight
Cardboard tube fight

In true recycling fashion we re-used the ideas of others for much of what we made so I’ve included some sources of inspiration below. Happy (and crafty) recycling!

What left over material offers the best craft possibilities?

Link list

Free Kids Crafts
Find out how you can craft your own craft storage from your household recycling

Kaboose - Crafts
Discover hundreds of ways to get creative recycling paper and cardboard

More 4 Kids
Explore 10 fantastic websites for kids all about recycling

Updated: 06/13/2013, SeanSPaul
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