Art Made Out Of Waste Material

Transforming trash into beautiful art and craft pieces is now a global practice. Why don't you give it a try? Here are some interesting ways to recycle and reuse items that usually end up in a bin!

By Salma Banu

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Street art from waste materials

We have all heard about recycling, but how many of us actually practise it in our day-to-day lives? Only a few would answer affirmatively. Polythene bags, plastic bottles, newspapers, empty cans, wrappers and packing cartons are the most common items that go into the bin. But trash can be put to better use, as I found out.

One morning, several years ago, I could not find any vase to put flowers in. That's when shining empty plastic bottle caught my attention. I cut the top part neatly and used it as a vase. It occurred to me that this was one way of reclaiming trash and saving nature. It disheartens me to see plastic bottles floating in the sea, littering public places or even, in the refrigerators of some homes. 

I have always had a passion for art. I became aware of the spectrum on the glittering surface of the white plastic bottles. The plastic bottles resemble glass and glass paints work well on them. I took to this ‘art’ possibility with great fervour.

Today, this is more than just a hobby for me; it has become a cause.

I convert all kinds of trash into things of beauty. I preserve plastic bags and bottles, newspapers, milk packets, egg cartons, all types of packing material, vegetable and fruit peels, dry leaves and flowers, toy wrappers, cosmetic cans and sweet boxes — you name it and I have it!

The next time you are about to dump plastic bottles, bag or even, newspapers, pause and think: can you recycle them? Look at the practical ideas listed in this article. You may also scour the Internet for plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) activities. 

1. Turn plastic bottles into flowerpots, vases and flowers.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Plastic bottle flowerpots

2. Make fashionable earrings and bangles using plastic bottles. Shapes of leaves, flowers or stars can be cut out from plastic bottles and made more colourful with glass paints.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Plastic bottle earrings

3. Eggshell artworks. A mosaic art piece made from eggshells and clay dough. On a handmade paper base, the central picture (in this case, a monument, trees, flowers and sun) is made from clay dough and pasted with glue, piece by piece. Egg shells are stuck (with glue) all around.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Eggshell art

4. Discarded CDs can be turned into various artworks. Here is an old CD painted with acrylic paints and polymer clay, Kabaa placed in the centre, decorated with glitter and beads.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Art with CDs

5. Make toy gadgets out of packing material/boxes. (This is a laptop made by my son Zayd. He calls it Gamebox 2).

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Packing box gamebox

6. Design colourful brooches, mats and keychains using paper. Newspaper rolled into the shape below, with wooden beads on a thread sewn through the newspaper coil.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Newspaper flowers

7. Hang bottles on your lawn or balcony like a birdfeeder. You can be creative and design your birdfeeders artistically using acrylic paint and craft add-ons such as sequins and beads.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Bottle birdfeeder

8. Pencil shavings can be pasted onto plastic bottles and cups to decorate them. (No paint applied. Earring hoops, a safety pin, and just some thread used).

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Pencil shaving accessories

9. A bit fat pebble turned into a tortoise paperweight. Clay and beads used to cover and decorate it. Good brands of clay dough last longer. Heat and humidity affect these pieces but if preserved well, last for more than two years.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Tortoise paperweight

10. A picture made out of clay. After applying glue on a sheet of handmade paper, clay shapes were pasted. (Literally stretched my imagination to fill in the details)!

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
 A picture made of clay

11. A collage made from eggshell clouds, a plastic bottle sun, plastic bag trees, fruit packing, thatched house from hay and egg cartons, plastic bottle and clay bushes, milk packet grass, pencil-shaded hills and sky.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Scenery created from waste material

12. A flower vase made out of newspaper. Twirl thick newspaper strips and glue them up with Fevicol to make the vase nice and sturdy. The flower you see is also a rolled-up piece of newspaper.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Newspaper flower vase

13. Plastic carry bag with a sunflower and carbon footprint design. A yellow-coloured polybag cut into petals, stuck into an old magazine page cut into a round shape. Thread for the stem and fruit-packing material for leaves and painted with acrylic paint. Feet cut and stuck from black paper or black polybag.

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Sunflower

14. A peacock-shaped seedpod rattle (acrylic paints used to colour the seedpods).

Art Made Out Of Waste Material
Seedpod peacock

Like these, you can make a plethora of home decor and utility items. Brighten up your kitchen with colourful patterns on the cabinets, pots, jars, shelves and windows, using plastic bottle art. Make your own paper tote bags and say ‘No’ to plastic bags. Give a '3D' look to a picture by using plastic pet bottle caps. Make arty and craft pieces using throwaway items lying around the house. Let your creativity free rein!

There is so much you can do with trash. Let's all join together to save our planet. Let's recycle and reuse! 

The hazards of plastic 

  • Plastic bags, if not disposed properly, end up in the drainage system resulting in the blocking of drains, thus bringing about an unhygienic environment and causing water-borne diseases.
  • Recycled/coloured plastic bags contain certain chemicals, which can leach into the ground and contaminate soil and sub-soil water.
  • Plastic bags with leftover food get mixed up in garbage dumps. This can be extremely harmful for cows, dogs and other animals, who live on our streets. 
  • As plastics are non-biodegradable, they can form an impervious layer and arrest the recharging of groundwater aquifers.
  • Turtles that consume plastic found in the seas, often choke and die. This is happening to other sea creatures too. 
  • Plastic contains chemicals that can harm human health, especially when used in containers for food or water. 
  • Plastic bottles are made of fossil fuels, hence its production results in greenhouse gas emissions — the main culprit in man-made global warming.

Other ways of recycling

Reuse or recycle plastic bottles in the following ways: 

In gardening: The lower half of a plastic bottle can be cut out and used to sow seeds and grow saplings until ready for transfer into the soil. Also, use a large perforated bottle to water plants in your garden. 

As toys: Collect and paint similar-sized bottles in varying bright colours. And lo, behold, you get a set of colourful skittles for rounds of bowling fun! My sons also make boats and whales out of bottles. Believe me, it’s a wonderful water game! 

As artwork: Cut and paint plastic bottles using glass colours and fill your home with flowers, vases, wall hangings and paintings.

So, what are you waiting for? Go on and collect those waste products lying around your house and create something splendid out of it. Involve your child with small activities and instil in them, a love for nature and the art of recycling. 

Salma Banu is a freelance artist, a recycler and a ‘go green person’. She conducts art workshops on recycling waste called eco-art.

Looking for expert tips and interesting articles on parenting? Subscribe now to our magazine. Connect with us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube