Eco-Friendly DIY Crafts for Teens

There are lots of simple crafts teens can create from plastic bottles.
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One way to get teens more involved in caring about the environment is to show them benefits (and fun!) of upcycling – transforming unwanted items into new, useful things. Set a date for a repurposing party for your teens and all their friends. Plan the projects in advance so each teen knows what supplies to bring to the party.

T-Shirt Transformations

Transform those old T-shirts – stained shirts, raggedy shirts or shirts that just aren't part of the wardrobe anymore – into new, functional creations to wear, share or give to the family pet.

  • Turn a T-shirt into a tote bag - Cut off the sleeves and leave the seams intact. Cut the neckline out a bit deeper. Turn the shirt inside out and sew the bottom closed. Turn the shirt right-side out again to reveal the one-of-a-kind tote.This also works with a tank top.
  • Make bangle bracelets - Cut the hem off the bottom of a T-shirt. Then, cut inch-wide bands from the shirt, starting at the bottom. Cut the hems off either side of each loop. Stretch the fabric strips out. Then, either braid them together or wrap them around a plain plastic or metal bangle. Tie or glue the ends together.
  • Create a doggie chew toy - Cut slits two to three inches apart up the bottom of a shirt. Then, tear them all the way up. Cut across the top of the chest area to create fabric strips. Tie the strips together at one end, then braid them together and tie a knot near the other end. Your T-shirt chew toy is ready for a game of tug-of-war.

    Upcycled Paper Envelopes

    Transform junk mail, old phone books or damaged books into homemade envelopes for gift-giving or mail, old-school style. Carefully tear apart an existing envelope to make a template, tracing it onto card stock. Trace the template onto the project paper and cut out the paper, fold it and glue the overlapped areas together, like the original envelope.

    Super simple!

    Plastic Bottle Zipper Bank

    Although there are lots of ways to create a homemade piggy bank, this zipper bank is great for teens. And all you need are two plastic bottle bottoms, a zipper and hot glue.

    Cut the bottom two inches or so out of clean, matching plastic bottles such as 12- or 16-ounce water bottles. Find a zipper (with attached fabric) that fits neatly around the inside perimeter of one of the cut bottles and hot glue the fabric portion from one side of the zipper inside one bottle bottom.

    Unzip the zipper, hot glue the other part of the fabric to the remaining bottle bottom, then zip it all together once the glue dries.

    For a unique piggy bank, pair the top portion of a wide-mouthed bottle with the bottom from the same bottle, cutting out the few inches in the middle. Unscrew the cap to add coins or cash, then unzip the bottle when you need the dough.

    Plastic Bottle Charging Station

    Transform a wide, somewhat flat bottle such as an old lotion bottle into a charging station for a cell phone.

    Wash bottle out thoroughly, then cut the top off.

    Slice across the front of the bottle approximately halfway up, then cut vertical lines up the back near the sides to make a long, flat strap out of the back. Cut a hole near the top of the strap wide enough to accommodate the prongs of the cellphone charger; test fit it in an outlet with a charger, if necessary.

    Decorate the charging station by painting it with acrylics or a plastic spray paint, or by decoupaging scrap fabric or paper over it. To use the charging station, line the hole in the back up with the outlet, plug the charger through it, then place the cellphone inside the cup portion of the holder.   

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