Rubbish Crafting

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Crafting is the perfect way to fill a grey weekend with fun. Making things out of the contents of the recycling box and natural finds is an easy way to keep costs down – and help reduce your waste.


Here are a few things you can use to help you have fun for (almost) free. A hot glue gun makes life much easier. I use a warm glue gun that melts the glue at a lower temperature to avoid any risk of glue burns.

Old Clothes


Keep fabric scraps and any clothes that are too tired for the charity shop. These can be used to make fabric bags, doll’s clothes, rag rugs, rag wreaths, and new clothes, along other things.


You can use small scraps of cotton to make bath balm: just cut a circle of cloth, add oats, salt and herbs, tie with a ribbon or fabric scrap and throw into your bath for a skin-soothing treat.

Add aromatherapy oils too, for extra indulgence, and coconut oil for a more moisturising balm. Squeeze the bath balm to release maximum oat milk.

Old Tights


Tights are one of the most useful items we throw away. Boil wash in soap-free water and you can use them to strain jams and jellies.

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You can also create a coffee-grounds filter to stop coffee grounds going down the drain. Cut off the toe/bottom six inches or so of the tights. Stretch over a plant pot. Pour cafetiere grounds through the tights and the liquid will drain through the plant pot, while the grounds are caught in the tights. These can then be used to make toiletries, or as a growing medium for mushrooms.

Tights can also become fingerless evening gloves: just cut tubes from black tights (higher deniers work best) and edge with lace or maribou. These can help you stay warm in a sleeveless dress as well as looking glamorous.

Tights are also great for fancy dress. Stuff a leg from black tights as a cat’s tail. Use the other toe as a base for a skull cap – just add cat’s ears (if the outfit is for an adult and tights are too small, stick cat’s ears to an alice band instead.) Complete the look with a black leotard and tights.


Or use old tights to make a doll. If you’ve got any old pillows that have gone flat, wash them and use them as stuffing. If not, fabric scraps work, though you won’t get the same level of detail in the face.

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Stuff the toe to form a head. I poke a pipe cleaner or lolly stick into this to create a supportive neck. Tie or stitch at the neck, then stuff the body. Tie or stitch again at waist and bum level, then cut the tights in half to form legs. Stitch and stuff – again, using pipe cleaners if you want the legs to be able to bend.

Cover any dodgy stitching with fishnet tights or clothes. A glue gun is invaluable for dressing your doll at speed – though this does mean you can’t change the outfit. Add beads or googly eyes, and cut lips from card to stick on. Make hair by knotting lengths of wool and stitching these along the hairline.

Paper Plates


While these are best avoided in favour of reusable plates, if you have paper plates left over from a party, use them to make a cake stand for afternoon tea. Just add toilet rolls and ribbon/crafting box scraps to decorate.

You can also use them to make painted ladybirds or butterflies with younger kids; or cut a slit in them and make an angel for the Christmas tree – use old tights to make the head.


2017-07-04-00-07-47Eggshells can be used to make decorated eggs, fairy boats (crack eggs lengthways) or eggshell mosaics.

I paint them with nail polish but am planning on a natural dye eggshell mosaic, using onion skins, elder, damsons and goldenrod.

With a little imagination, it’s easy to fend off cries of, “I’m bored,” with an impromptu crafting session. Better yet, it’s one step closer to a zero waste lifestyle – and can save you money too.



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