6 DIY Reuse Crafts for Your Group
Whether you are looking into making DIY crafts to create a sellable product for some project funding needs, generate promotional materials unique to your nonprofit, or provide an activity for your summer camp kids or summer volunteers, keep your activity budget at a minimum and be as green as possible by reusing found and collected materials! Here are six reuse craft projects any nonprofit can do, make applicable to their mission, and help with fundraising.
Glasses from bottles
It takes a glass bottle one million years to biodegrade. And while glass can be infinitely recycled, only about 35% ends up reused in America – and much less globally. Try this simple instructable to make beautiful glasses from any bottle with only a local hardware store wire cutter and sandpaper.
You can order a custom glass stencil from your own logo or artwork from a number of online retailers. Free Stencils makes a reusable glass stencil for around $20, for example. Then you can etch your unique logo on your glass for a board member giveaway or gift shop sale item!
Find lots of ideas for glasses made from bottles on Etsy.com
In places throughout Latin America and other developing countries, organizations like Hug It Forward are promoting projects to make entire usable buildings from bottles. The plastic bottles (collected from the trash) serve as insulation and structure between two layers of cement to make inexpensive classrooms and other buildings needed in poor communities.
Full directions are on their website, or REAP in Scotland gives step-by-step directions for kids to make a greenhouse!
These projects could easily be replicated for a nonprofit classroom building, bathroom, shed, or “giveaway” project to help with your project fundraising.
Note: For any larger structures you may want to contact your local government to see if there are any restrictions or building codes to adhere to.
Make this bottle greenhouse! From the MasterGardening blog.
If a building seems daunting, or if you want to make something more artistic, try making a sculpture! As part of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, giant fish sculptures from plastic bottles were installed on the beach in Rio de Janeiro.
You can scale this project for your nonprofit to make giveaways or decorations. Dale Wayne offers fantastic ideas and how to videos on his page on Inspiration Green, including not only sculptures, but Christmas trees and wreaths.
For more great ideas, search for bottle sculptures on Pinterest.
Found item jewelry
You can buy simple jewelry wires, accessory beads, fish hooks, and bracelet and necklace brackets from nearly any arts store or crafting retailer (even Walmart sells them!). The craftiness – and money saving – comes from finding interesting items to use as “jewels” instead of buying those too.
- Fantastic natural jewels include pebbles, dried flowers, feathers, leaves pressed between thin glass panes, or driftwood. You can tint feathers fun colors just like you would dye an Easter egg. Make sure you boil the feathers in hot water for 10 minutes to disinfect them, and then add food coloring to your liking with a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of hot water. Leave the feathers in the dye until the water cools and dry completely.
- Next time you break a glass or a ceramic plate, pick out the similar shapes and sand the edges for truly unique pendants and earrings.
- Round up your unused coins from your Brazilian vacation or European escape for expensive looking metal pendants!
Many thicker plastics are difficult to recycle, but perfect to repurpose. Use any decent sized container as an organic tomato, lettuce, or pepper planter by poking a few holes in the bottom and filling with potting soil and seedlings. Be careful which plastics you use for this activity, however! Only plastics labeled 1, 2, 4, and 5 are safe to plant in (the others may leech toxins into your vegetables over time).
You can either use this activity with kids to have a mini-farmers market to help with program costs, or you can work to make the planters sellable by painting them unique colors, stenciling, or cutting in fun shapes.
Paint can luminaries
If your organization is about to have an outdoor gala or other interesting nighttime activity, save on your decorating bill by asking volunteers to bring in their empty cans. You can use any tin can, including clean paint cans. This Old House has a good instructable, but all you need is to:
- Draw a design (your logo!) on the cleaned can,
- Fill it with water and freeze it,
- Stabilize the frozen can with a press, and then
- Use a chisel and hammer to punch out small holes along your design.
You can use candles as your light source and place them as table centerpieces for your gala, or you can attach them to big Christmas tree light bulbs and hang them from trees or doors in your event space!
Reuse crafts can be a fun way to engage your program participants, help you save on your event costs, give you interesting fundraisers, or serve as promotional materials for your organization, all while helping the planet.
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>> Read more articles by Devon Reeser
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