Creative recycling tips to help the environment

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Ceative Enviro-Chic Recycling Don't get me wrong - I think is important - critical to the future of our world. But, given the option, I'd rather recycle creatively rather than simply toss something into the proper bin. So, I set out to research and find some of the most creative, fun projects that take ordinary household items, that would normally be tossed out, and make them into cool, fun projects. And, here we go, from home dcor to kid's fun - all of these take a project and add a twist of my own. Pick one that intrigues you and create something chic and new.

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Candle Recycling We all have them, the dregs of candles that have burned out. It's that wonderful, fragrant wax that simply will not burn in its original state because the candle has simply burned out. Why not re-melt the leftovers and remake it into new candles. I learned it's as simple as can be. All you need is an old pan, leftover candles, new candle wicking that is cheaply purchased at any craft store and something to pour the melted wax into. I suggest a simple small terracotta pot - cheap and probably laying around your yard somewhere. You can also use any small heatproof container - even a big seashell from summer vacation.

The project is simple. First prep your new container. Cut a wick the length of the container and use a pencil or chopstick to tie the end and place it horizontally on the container to hold up the wick. Now, just take all your old candles or candle wax (remember the trick to put any jar candles in the freezer for about 30 minutes to help release the wax) and put them in your old pan. Heat over a medium heat and melt the old wax. Pick out any old wicks, paper, etc with a pencil or chop stick and pour into the new container. If you're using a plant pot, just put a coin in the bottom to close off any water-draining hole. Allow the new candle to harden overnight and cut off the wick. Voila! You have a new candle!

Old China, New Serving Piece Do you have any old china plates and sweet little teacups? I did, I love them but never use them. So, I glued them together, stacked on top of one another and created a perfect little serving piece. It goes like this - plate, cup, plate, cup, plate - all secured with your standard super glue - really chic, really retro and totally unique!

Record Album Bowls This one is wacky but fun. Do you have any old vinyl record albums hanging around? How about melting them into a fun bowl for your TV room or as a creative gift basket idea for a friend?

Grab an ovenproof bowl - Pyrex is perfect. Preheat your oven to about 150 degrees. My oven was digital, wouldn't go that low, so I had to do it at 175 degrees and it worked fine. Turn the bowl upside down and put the record album, centered, on top of it. Carefully put the bowl with the record on top into the oven. Heat it for about 5 minutes. You'll notice the record will begin to melt. Take it out of the oven, and with oven mitts on, shape the record around the bowl. It will be scalloped like shown, but will form a bowl. Let it cool and you have a fun, gift presentation for any DVD or a great bowl for remotes in a TV room. It'll get folks talking, too!

Old Frames New Use I'm not a big fan of lots of stuff magnetized to my refrigerator. But, I do enjoy displaying photos and kid's awards or notes from the teacher for all to see. And, I like switching them out frequently. This is a fun project that recycles an old frame and allows you to display those tidbits easily. Simply grab an old frame, a glue gun and some old ribbon. Take the ribbon and glue it in a criss-cross pattern to the back of the frame. Now you can use it to paperclip on photos, notes, etc. for all to admire.

The Infamous Altoids Tin I can't even imagine how many of these discarded tins there are in landfills. And, the uses for them are numerous - from really functional to bizarre. I found and thought of a few AND they are a really, really fun idea starter for kids.

Trinket Containers I found cheap, hip cork sheets that look really sleek when simply glued to one of these mint containers. I also glued a sample of what was inside and I have the perfect place for small things like paper clips, pins, rubber bands, etc. Fun!

Now for the Kids!

They'll go crazy for this. Have the boys make a tin wallet. Have the girls go wild making a little purse. Line with felt or leftover fabric to prevent the clanging of coins, but what a fun project. Pull out old stickers, ribbon, and fabric remnants, white glue and let them go wild.

These perfect little tins are also great as a purse size first aid kit, and gift cardholder. Open up the possibilities to your kids and I can only imagine what they'd come up with.

T-Shirt Pillows I don't know about your kids, but my son always had favorite shirts that no longer fit him but he refused to give up - especially those souvenir ones from every vacation we ever took. Did you ever think about making them into fun, quirky pillows to cuddle forever? Here's how. Take your beloved Tee. Sew up the neck, sleeves and about half of the bottom. Stuff it with pillow filling and sew up the remaining part of the bottom. Now you can display it forever. It's cuddly too!

The Funkiest Project of All This one is great for tweens - they LOVE anything funky. And what is weirder than a bubble wrap pillow? Take leftover bubble wrap and decide how big you will want your pillow. Double it over and tape up two of the three sides with clear tape. Now, here's the fun part. Stuff it with colorful stuff - wrapping paper, ribbon, and candy wrappers - anything that you would normally throw away. Remember this is a clear pillow so be really creative with what you put inside - you'll see it through the pillow, which is really fun. Comics, balloons, the Sunday funnies are perfect.

When full, tape the last end closed and you have the funkiest of all pillows. And, your kids eliminated bubble wrap and paper from the landfill all while decorating their rooms in a really unique way.

What do you think? These easy projects make recycling more than just routine. More importantly they inspire us and our kids to look at everything we already own in new ways. Go for it and have fun.

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