photo by Zahra Iqbal via Unsplash

Holiday Recycling: Recreate and Regift

December 11, 2020 | by Maritza (Mitzy) Pardo, guest contributor

As many of us typically look to the winter holidays with joy, this year has been anything but typical. New trends have been set through face masks, socially distant gatherings, and most recently, ornaments reflecting the year’s challenges with a bit of humor (e.g., ornaments with toilet paper and curbside pick-up icons). However, as the year has limited several families financially, and many schools remain closed, we look for creative ways to keep our traditions.

Some of these traditions include Christmas décor (e.g., arts and crafts, ornaments, and wreaths) and gift-giving. What if we begin a new tradition of gift-giving beyond the people we hold dear? What if this year we give back to our environment and save money by creating holiday ornaments from recyclables? And, what if the next holiday gathering is a Zoom party where friends clean out their closets to swap or regift items? What we are learning is that there are a variety of activities we can enjoy while doing our part to give back to the environment. Published findings (Knowing What It Makes: How Product Transformation Salience Increases Recycling. Journal of Marketing, 2019) concluded that helping consumers understand how recyclables become new products inspire others to recycle and recreate.

There is no better time than this holiday season to inspire others to recycle and recreate. While many may embrace the notion, others may worry about their ability to be crafty or creative. The good news is that the activity is less about a perfect masterpiece and more about creating unique pieces and memories with loved ones. Below is a list of ideas to recreate or regift your recyclable items.

1.   Plastic Bottle Ornaments

As water or soda bottles pile up, they can be used to create snowflake ornaments. The grooves in the bottom of each bottle form a design that resembles a star or snowflake that is perfect for decorating.

How to Create Christmas Ornaments using Recycled Plastic Bottles — Going Green Life

2.   Egg Carton Snowman

Most of us just throw our empty egg cartons into the recycling bin. However, several different designs have surfaced utilizing the bottom of regular egg cartons for holiday snowmen. The cartons can easily be painted and decorated to make a crafty snowman.

Egg Carton Snowman Craft (simpleeverydaymom.com)

3.   Popsicle Stick Crafts

By far the most common craft among children are those that utilize popsicle sticks. From mini frames, to bookmarkers, and holiday ornaments there are a variety of ideas to interest children of any age. 

25 Fun and Easy DIY Popsicle Stick Ornaments - Fun Loving Families

4.   Crayon-Melt-Glass Ornaments

Older children can take their broken crayons and, rather than throw them away, recycle them into colorful designs inside a glass-clear ornament. Melting different colors inside a clear glass bulb produces a sort of swirl or mix of colors that creates a unique look. The ornament can be personalized further with an added design or message on the outside.


5.   Wine Cork Holiday Crafts

Here is one that can easily entertain a Zoom gathering. Friends can toast their favorite glass of wine and use their collected wine corks to craft holiday ornaments or be a memory preserver (e.g., write a catch phrase, inspirational quote, or New Year’s wish). 

Wine Cork Christmas Crafts - DIY Cuteness

6.     Clothing Swap Party

As we know, retail websites such as Poshmark have already created a community of buyers interested in previously owned clothing and accessory items. However, we can simply swap them among friends or regift to a charitable cause.

As we still practice social distancing, the manner in which we host these gatherings has changed but the benefits are the same. Friends, neighbors, and coworkers are doing more than finding new owners for repurposed items. It is an opportunity to swap stories of memorable outfits, or model unique pieces; and even add some lip singing to the mix. Keeping in mind our current limitation for large group gatherings, the link below has a few tips to for consideration.

Ready to host a clothing swap? You won’t regret it! — Remake

Though many people wonder if it's really worth the time and effort to clean and store recycled items, our efforts are not in vain. As a parent and educational consultant, I can confidently say that modeling the reduction of waste and providing creative activities is an invaluable lesson to children. As children look to the adults around them for guidance, our actions have the power to demonstrate respect for each other and the environment. May we end 2020 with a newfound motivation to care for one another and our mother earth.

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