You’ve probably heard that the world is swimming in plastic waste. According to the EPA, in 2012, 32 million tons of plastic waste was generated, and only nine percent of that was recycled. But these innovative crafters are doing their part to make use of all that plastic. Turns out plastic doesn’t just have to be turned into more milk jugs. Following are some examples of recycled plastic for everything from lamps to jewelry to wall hangings, and you’d never even know that a lot of these items were made out of old plastic.
To learn more about any given item, just click on the photo.
1. Plastic Lamp
Believe it or not, this lamp was made out of recycled plastic bottles. Some of the plastic was sandblasted to turn it white. Colored plastic bottles and polypropylene sheets make up the lampshade. It looks like a new item you’d just find in a home goods store.3. Jewelry Stand Here’s a great use for the bottom of old soda bottles. These were drilled and sanded to form a flower pattern. A basic metal rod with washers and nuts form the base of this piece. Full project photos are available by clicking on the image above. 4. Soda Bottle Lanterns This fun idea for old soda bottles would be great to hang at parties. It’s made from tissue paper that was painted onto the cut soda bottle with a white glue/water mixture. Mod Podge would also work quite well. Holes punched at the top would create a good place for hanging ribbon. 5. Plastic Bag Tote The bag above was made from recycled Wal-Mart bags. Looks like fabric, doesn’t it? The bag was crocheted using 1-inch strips of plastic bag that were rolled into what is called plarn (plastic yarn). You can find the crochet patterns by clicking on the image above. 6. Recycled Plastic Messenger Bag This creation was made out of other recycled bags. The plastic was heat-fused, cut and re-sewn. This is a great way to upscale old bags you don’t want anymore into designs you do. 7. Upcycled Plastic Wallet This is a good example of how versatile old plastic can be. The old residual plastic was fused to create this new, strong material via a heat press. Any type of plastic can be used this way, everything from old bags to signs. 8. Recycled Plastic Rug Here’s another great use of plarn (plastic yarn). This rug is made from 250 plastic bags and is naturally waterproof. 9. Plastic Piece Bracelet This piece was made out of upcycled plastic links. It’s hard to tell the plastic was even reused. The links were hand-colored in those shades of blue. 10. Plastic Shirt Here’s a great piece for making a statement. This corset piece was made out of plastic bags, packaging, bubble wrap and recycled cans. You can lace up the back with recycled rope as well. 11. Napkin Ring This was also made out of recycled plastic bottles. These bottles were cut, heated and shaped into the flower pattern above. These honestly do just look like blown glass. 12. Butterfly Wall Hanging These gorgeous pieces were made out of PET bottles. The translucent plastic catches the light nicely. The bottles were hand painted once they were fashioned. 13. Upcycled Plastic Toy Sometimes you don’t need to get too involved. This accessible project was a plastic toy that was painted, sealed with a matte finish and cut to make room for the plant. It makes a unique planter with a bit of humor to it. 14. Plastic Tote This bag was made out of upcycled brown grocery bags and pink cotton warp thread. The thread blends well into the bag, making the piece look like a classy item that was made out of new materials. 15. Plastic Bow Here’s another creative use for plarn. It’s attached to a metal barrette clip for easy use. This was originally old grocery bags as well. 16. Clear Plastic Necklace This necklace actually used to be the lid of a plastic storage container. It looks like something you’d find at the mall. As the site says, it would go great with any outfit. 17. Banner Bag This colorful piece used to be a PVC banner. It was hand-painted with heat-set acrylic paint. The abstract paint job gives it an arty, playful feel. 18. Grocery Bag Wallet Here’s a clever take on an upcycled wallet. The bags are placed in a unique, textured pattern. 19. Plastic Necklace Here’s another piece that looks like it could easily be made out of new materials. This crafter said she become interested in upcycling plastic after viewing the badly littered beaches of Morocco. She started gathering trash and making it into beautiful new creations ever since. 20. Necklace from Plastic Lids You wouldn’t even know this funky piece was made from recycled plastic lids. It just looks like a fun jewelry piece. 21. Bottle Bracelet Here’s a great example of a bracelet that was made out of old plastic. The base was formed out of a plastic bottle. Metallic wrapping paper, wire and rhinestones add a fun look. 22. Button Bracelet This is a good use for old buttons. If you have some colorful buttons around, don’t forget what great embellishments they make on jewelry. In this case, the yellow buttons and weight beads were entirely upcycled. 23. Water Bottle Necklace Yes, this used to be a water bottle. These creatively cut pieces make the plastic look like bits of blown glass. It certainly creates a fun and classy look. 24. Record Cufflinks These used to be vinyl records. They’d make a great gift for any music fan. Just goes to show how versatile old records can be.
2. Recycled Plastic Beads
These were made from recycled plastic bottles as well. This fun DIY project is a great way for crafters to reuse and save money. The beads were made by coloring the plastic with permanent marker, folding the plastic with pliers and molding it with an embossing gun. You can see a video tutorial at the image source link above.