Recycled, Upcycled and Green Crafts

Ideas for Fun and Creative Eco-Friendly Crafts

New craft supplies aren’t always the best craft supplies. Instead of shopping for your craft supplies, why not try reclaiming, recycling, upcycling and re-purposing older materials to use instead? Here are some ideas:

Recycle Stained T-Shirts With Tie Dye

Do you, or any of the kids in your family, have t-shirts that are too stained to wear any more? If so, don’t throw the t-shirts in the trash; give them new life by tie-dying them. The following tie-dye articles will help:

Recycle Broken Objects With Mosaic

If you’d like to try making mosaics, you could buy expensive mosaic tiles that are designed just for that purpose. On the other hand, you could clean out your cupboards and put any chipped or cracked china to good use instead. Click here for instructions on how to cut mosaic tiles out of old dishes and plates. I’ve used these techniques to keep hundreds of broken dishes out of the landfill.

Broken china isn’t the only acceptable material for use in mosaic art. You can also use broken jewelry, small toys, beach glass, pebbles, shells, and other stuff.

Make Handmade Paper Out of Junk Mail

Everybody accumulates junk mail. It’s easy to toss it all in the trash, but that isn’t an environmentally-friendly solution. Even better: recycle it! You can recycle many different papers into gorgeous handmade paper.

Handmade papers are useful in many different types of paper crafts, including collage, mixed media art, card making, printmaking, altered art, altered book making, and scrapbooking. Click here for instructions on how to make handmade paper.

Knit and Crochet With Plastic Bags or Other Found Materials

Yarn and crochet thread are always fun to work with, but they aren’t your only options for making nice projects. You can upcycle many different types of materials for use in knitting and crocheting.

Many knitters and crocheters cut up plastic bags to work with. One popular buzzword these days is “plarn.” You can click here for more information about how to make and use plarn.

Another idea: You can cut old curtains, sheets or clothes into fabric strips for crocheting rag rugs. Click here to find instructions for making rag balls you can use for fabric crochet and knitting projects.

Alter and Upcycle Your Thrift Store Finds

If you head to the closest thrift store, you’re likely to find all kinds of interesting objects that can be altered and upcycled. One of my favorites thrift store finds was a wall art piece that I altered. Click here for wall art instructions and inspiration.

Turn “Hurt” Books Into Scrapbook Albums or Other Art Projects

If you have any books with damaged spines, missing pages, or other problems that make them unreadable, you can still salvage the pages to use in craft projects. Here’s an example of a scrapbook I made using a damaged dictionary and other supplies.

Reclaim the Fabric From Thrift Store Clothing

If you enjoy quilting or fiber art, this article contains ideas you can use to reclaim fabrics for your textile designs.

Your Recycled Craft Ideas

Do you have another fantastic green craft idea? If so, you’re invited to share it by posting a comment below. I’d love to hear about what kind of recycled crafts you enjoy making. Thanks for dropping by!

Related Resources

By Amy Solovay

About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She holds a bachelor’s degree with a studio art minor; and she has also obtained another degree in textile design. Amy has been crocheting and making crafts since childhood, and knitting since her teenage years. Her work also appears at, and Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.

This page was last updated on 7-13-2019.

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