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Creative recycling

Creative recycling

by Kathy Cano-Murillo – Apr. 19, 2008 12:00 AM
Special for The Arizona Republic

Tuesday is Earth Day – a friendly reminder to think twice about the resources we use.

Crafting is a great way to go green. A search online or a visit to the bookstore will yield more ideas than your brain can hold.

But when it comes to recycled projects, one can make only so many record-album bowls, juice-bag purses or magazine-picture frames. And sometimes making furniture out of corrugated cardboard looks easier in pictures than in real life.

Instead of going for blow-your-mind cute and clever ideas, I’m sharing three functional designs inspired by the main staples of daily life: grocery shopping, office work and drinking coffee. Nothing fancy, just the basic recipe. Feel free to adapt the recycled grocery-bag tote, coffee cozy and covered file folders any way you’d like, and share them with friends and family.

Here are reminders of other ways to recycle:

• Shred all your junk mail and use it to make handmade paper or packing for shipping.

• Papier-mâché over lightweight boxes, paint them and use them to hold pencils or other items.

• Use old T-shirts to make curtains, blankets, pillows or aprons.

• Use pretty bottles and wire to make hanging vases.

• Laminate colorful book or magazine pages and use to make purses or wallets.

• Use found objects from your kitchen junk drawer to add to artful shadow boxes.

• Cover the back of a large frame with screen and use as an earring holder.

• Use bottle caps to make jewelry or altered art.

Recycled Grocery Bag Tote

Take all those plastic shopping bags from the store or mall, cut them up and sew them together to make sturdy totes that you can use at the grocery store or food market. Make several of these so you can keep them around for your next grocery run.

About 36 plastic bags
Sewing machine
Canvas tote (to use as pattern)
Flatten the bags into stacks of six. Cut across the top to remove the handle portion. Cut the stacks into strips or squares, and sew up the sides. For a quilted look, sew lines in the center.

Make enough squares or strips until you have enough to piece together a bag that is the same size as the tote, and sew the pieces together. For the handles, cut thinner strips and sew inside the top panel on both sides.


Paper or Fabric Covered File Folders

We just survived tax season, so give your office accessories a face-lift. Instead of buying new folders, use extra scrapbook paper or fabric and sew it over the folder. It will bring them back to life.

Used file folders
Scrapbook paper or fabric
Sewing machine

Lay the paper or fabric on the outside of the folder and sew the edges. Make sure to lengthen the stitches so you won’t rip the folder. If you don’t want to sew, use a glue stick – just make sure to seal down the edges.


Coffee Cozy

Think about this every time you reach for a cardboard coffee cozy: It can be replaced easily with a handmade version. Keep it in your purse or at your office, always ready for action.

One cardboard coffee cozy (to use as a template)
Cotton balls (or batting)
Sewing machine

Fold the fabric in half, inside out. Open the template and lay it on the fabric, cut around it so you have two pieces. Then turn right side out. Insert the cotton balls, flattening as necessary, between the layers, sew two rounds of zigzag stitches around the edges. Sew all around the center for a quilted effect. Sew the Velcro on each end so it can close.


Concrete Coasters

Fabric Scrap-Covered Journal


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