17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects (For Kids & Adults Alike!)

17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects (For Kids & Adults Alike!)

If you love traversing the aisles of your local craft store to gather supplies, it may be time to rethink your strategy. While it’s admittedly fun to browse for new materials, it’s not always eco-friendly. Plus, you likely already have the supplies at home — though they might be hiding in your garbage bin. 

Toilet paper rolls, empty milk cartons, broken crayons, and even styrofoam can all make for perfect art supplies. You just need to know how to use them.

Repurposing and upcycling these materials will reduce your waste and create something new and usable, which is a win for both you and the planet!

Today, I’ll be showing you 15 different arts and craft projects (mainly using materials you’ll already find at home) that are great for both children and adults. I’ll also be including how-to details or links to tutorials for each item on the list. 

Let’s get started!

1. Eggshell Mosaics

Next time you hard boil eggs, save the shells and use them to make colorful mosaics. This craft is perfect for preschool and elementary-age children. 

Eggshell Mosaic Bird Craft - 17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects
Here’s a Possible Egg Mosaic Craft Idea / Photo courtesy of  June Campbell / CC BY-SA 2.0

Dye the eggshells different colors using food coloring and have your kids draw a picture on a piece of paper. Then, help your little ones glue the shells to their drawing. Spray with hairspray for a glossy, finished look and display them on your fridge. 

2. Styrofoam Stamps 

Do you happen to have some leftover styrofoam packaging? Don’t throw that away — it takes decades to decompose. Instead, repurpose it and use the material to make stamps. 

Related Post: 30 Ways to Reuse Styrofoam (With How-To Details and Instructions!)

You’ll only need a few other materials, like tacky glue and scissors, for this project. When finished, you’ll have a handful of handmade stamps with which to decorate stationery or make frameable art. 

Styrofoam Stamps - 17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects

Step 1: Draw a design on the flat piece of styrofoam. This will be the stamp’s design. If you are drawing a letter or a word, make sure that it will show properly (and not backwards) when it is stamped on paper.

Step 2: Cut out the design that you drew using scissors.

Step 3: Glue the stamp design to the bottom of another piece of styrofoam to create a handle. Or, you can glue the design onto a wood or cardboard handle to make it look nicer. 

3. Bedazzled Pinecones

This craft really is as simple as it sounds. Gather some pinecones on your next walk through your neighborhood or local park. Then, bring them home and bedazzle them with glitter, paint or googly eyes. 

Pinecone Animals Craft - 17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects
Here are some pinecone animals and craft ideas / Photo courtesy of  Virginia State Parks
CC BY 2.0

If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can turn them into potpourri with essential oils or a mixture of spices. Place them in a bowl on your bathroom counter or any other area of your home that might need some freshening up. 

4. Homemade Marble Crayons

Make good use of broken crayons by melting them down and making new ones. All you need is a muffin tin and a handful of old, unwrapped crayons. Throw the bits and pieces into the tins and pop them in the oven. 

You can either place similar colors together or mix and match for marbled crayons with different colours. Once they cool and harden, pop them out of the tin and draw away. 

5. Wind Socks 

Instead of tossing empty toilet paper rolls and oatmeal containers, turn them into windsocks to hang on your porch. This craft is super fun for kids and only requires basic art supplies like markers, glitter, string and anything else you’d like to decorate the socks. 

You might even hang some bells from one end so that it doubles as a windchime. 

6. Twig Vase 

While you’re out scavenging for pinecones, you might as well pick up a few twigs, too. Break them so that they’re all relatively the same length. Place the twigs vertically around a vase (as a template) and then hot glue the sticks together. 

(Tall, cylindrical vases work best as a base).

After the glue dries, remove the vase and you’ll have a new twig vase! Add a ribbon for some extra flair or tie some twine around the bundle to make it rustic chic. Light candle and enjoy your new outdoorsy ambiance. 

7. Pressed Flowers

Pressed Flowers Craft - 17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects

This craft is incredibly simple and still popular today, even though it’s been around for centuries. Head to your favorite botanical garden, wooded area or your backyard and pluck some pretty flowers, leaves and petals. 

Then, press them so that they’re flat and dry. You can use the finished product by adding them to phone cases or candles, framing them, using them to decorate cards, make bookmarks and more! Your options are endless. 

8. Plastic Bottle Planters

Plastic is a huge problem, especially in our oceans and fragile ecosystems around the world. Reduce your waste by turning plastic containers into planters. 

Plastic water bottles are perfect for herbs and succulents, while milk cartons and larger containers work well for bigger plants. Simply halve the containers, decorate them any way you’d like and plant your favorite flower, vegetable or another leafy green friend inside. 

9. Crochet Water Balloons

Classic water balloons are the essence of sunny summer days and childhood fun. However, when the last balloon has popped, it’s nearly impossible to ensure you’ve picked up every last piece of rubber. 

Of course, littering your yard with shrapnel from your water balloon fight isn’t too eco-friendly. That’s where these crochet water balloons come in handy. Simply make, soak and throw — shrapnel-free! The best part is you can reuse them every year. 

10. Magazine-Coil Jewelry & Art

Magazine Coil Pendant Jewelry - 17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects

This project will take a bit of patience, but with enough practice and work you can make some very nice necklace pendants or art designs with magazines, scissors, and some glue. 

To make the individual coils, cut a magazine page into long but thin strips and then roll each of the strips into a tight coil. You can fold the strips into multiple layers before you roll them together if you want your coil to be larger. After rolling the coil, glue them or tape them together. 

You can also check out more detailed instructions here.

11. Magazine Beads

Alternatively, you could also use magazines to create paper beads that you can string onto a bracelet or a necklace. Check out the youtube video below for more details:

12. Button Jewelry

What do you do with all those extra buttons hanging out in your sewing kit? You make jewelry, of course! While you can make any number of pieces with buttons, bracelets may be the simplest and most kid-friendly option. 

Simply string them together and tie or clip around your wrist for some instant bling that’s both classy and eco-friendly. If you ever tire of the bracelet, simply cut it and use the buttons for something else. 

13. Wallpaper and Calendar Cards

If you have a surplus of wallpaper left over after a home renovation, use it to make one-of-a-kind stationery. Fold the paper into cards and use whatever scrapbooking skills you have to personalize them further. 

Stickers, bows, ribbons and stamps are perfect additions to your wallpaper stationery. Additionally, if you happen to have old calendars, cut out scenery and images and use them to decorate packages. Just make sure to use tape made of hemp fibers, which are biodegradable and natural.

14. Patchwork Blankets 

Transform fabric scraps and old t-shirts into a colorful patchwork blanket. This craft is straightforward and perfect for beginners. Plus, it’s super customizable. 

Feel free to make your quilt as large or small as you’d like using whatever materials you have lying around. This project saves you from buying more blankets and the environment from needlessly taking on your wasted fabric scraps. Moreover, these quilts make great gifts for family members and friends. 

15. Jar Photo Snow Globes

Picture Snow Globe made from a jar - 17 Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts Projects
Image from Parenting.com

These picture snow globes (made from any clear jar or container) are a beautiful way to display pictures and memories. Decorate the outside of the jar with paint, glitter, or ribbon, and add some cotton swabs inside to give the impression of snow. Then, add your picture inside and you’re done!

You can find more detailed instructions over at Parenting.com, where I found this DIY craft project.

16. Mason Jar Sewing Kit

Some store-bought jams, nut butters and other products may come in mason jars. Instead of throwing your empty ones away, give them a second life as a sewing kit. The pincushion will rest on top of the lid, and all smaller items will fit nicely inside the jar. This way, you can take your all-in-one kit with you anywhere, just in case you have to perform an emergency mend. You might even make a few extra and gift them to your friends. 

17. Eco-Dough 

If you have children or are a teacher, your kids will love this eco-friendly playdough from Eco-Kids. This dough is made from all-natural ingredients, making it a safe option for molding, kneading and shaping. 

Essential oils add a light scent and help to keep the dough pliable during longer playtimes. If you want to go even more DIY, you can make your own spin-off of this name-brand dough for a fraction of the price and just four ingredients. 

Using the Most Eco-Friendly Materials 

Most of these projects are eco-friendly in and of themselves. From upcycling to reusing materials, the above arts and crafts reduce waste and create a more sustainable environment. However, some of the extra materials — like glues and tapes — may not be so green. 

Luckily, there are plenty of planet-friendly craft supplies and materials out there. You can also use natural dyes made from plant and flower pigments instead of food coloring or artificial chemicals. 

By following some of the advice above, you can get crafty with your materials, as well as your projects.  


About the Author: Dylan Bartlett

Dylan Bartlett, aka, “The Regular Guide,” writes about a range of topics on his blog. Check out his site, Just a Regular Guide, for more, or follow Dylan on Twitter @theregularguide for frequent updates.

Edited by: Hugh

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.