Family Recycling and Crafting with Recyclables

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This post was sponsored by OCRRA as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Recycling is vitally important to helping our community and conserving our natural resources. With the current social distancing and economic uncertainty lots of things have changed and are unclear – but the importance of recycling hasn’t changed.

This is a great time to reconnect with our families and bond over helping the community and our environment. Recycling is something the entire family can do together, making sure that only the correct things end up in the blue bin. You can also use recyclables for some fun arts and crafts projects, keeping kids busy and engaged.
Learn the recycling rules from OCRRA, a comprehensive trash and recycling system for Onondaga County, so that your family can continue recycling successfully. And then check out the easy denim dog toy my kids and I created from old blue jeans for family crafting fun. Together we can all “Save the World a Little Each Day”.

Current Challenges

My family and I are generating more recyclables than ever right now. Shopping online means we have lots of cardboard boxes. Cooking at home more means more food boxes, cartons and cans to dispose of. Working from home and doing schoolwork at home means more papers are being printed. 
So during these difficult times, it is important to make sure the entire family keeps recycling and knows the recycling rules. This is also the perfect time to get the entire family involved and teach our children the importance of recycling

Recycle Right: Know the Rules

It is vitally important to only put things in the recycling bin that are actually being recycled. Too often well-meaning families add things to the bin that seem recyclable, but aren’t. If you aren’t certain that something belongs in the blue bin check it out at, where you can find a handy searchable database.
But sometimes you don’t have time to check out the rules – so if in doubt throw it out. Putting things that can’t be recycled in the blue bins slows down the recycling process and means OCRRA has to spend time and money sorting. We need to make the jobs of the essential workers easier, not more difficult!
recycle bin filled with recyclables

What to Recycle in Your Bin

Here is a handy list of some of the most common household things you should recycle.
  • Cardboard boxes – If you are ordering online like we are, those cardboard boxes are recyclable.
  • Food boxes – Cereal boxes, pasta boxes, tissue boxes – all clean cardboard is recyclable.
  • Paper – Did you print out coloring pages for your kids? Put your favorite picture on the refrigerator and recycle the rest!
  • Cans and jars – Spaghetti sauce, beans and soup are staples in my house right now. Rinse them out and recycle them.
  • Plastic bottles and jugs – Milk jugs and bottles of juice
  • Plastic dairy and non-dairy substitutes tubs – These are the only plastic tubs that are recyclable. They need to be wide-mouth and stackable.
  • Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, even softcover books

What Not to Recycle

Make sure none of these products end up in the recycling bin!
  • Latex, nitrile or vinyl gloves
  • Plastics that crack when you step on them including plastic cups and berry containers
  • Styrofoam
  • Wood
  • Yard Waste
  • Tanglers – Anything that is likely to wrap around sorting equipment, like hoses, wires, cords, belts and so on. This can cause damage to the sorting equipment.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are a special case because they are recyclable, but you can’t put them in your curbside recycling bin. If you put bagged items in the recycling bin they will slow things down, possibly cause equipment breakdown, and end up being thrown out – they do not get recycled!
But they can be recycled, you just need to take them to a special bin, which you can find at the front of most big box stores, grocery stores and pharmacies. Of course, right now it is not a great time to be dropping off plastic bags at stores. So the best thing to do is to hold onto plastic bags and other filmy plastics and drop them off when it is safe to do so. I have a garbage bag in the garage that I am storing all my plastic bags in for now.


Textiles are another special case which can be recycled, but not in your blue bin. Old clothes and other textiles can be recycled even if they are stained or ripped – they just have to be clean and dry to donate. They can also be made into industrial rags or insulation. 
Many locations will take these items, but not right now. I know I have been spending some of my extra time at home cleaning and sorting my closet, so I have a few bags of old clothes ready to be dropped off once donation centers reopen.
finding clothes to get rid of while decluttering

Make Crafts Out of Recyclables

I think everyone who is staying home more than usual is getting a little stir crazy and bored! So it is a great time to create some cool arts and crafts projects out of recyclables. Using recyclable materials you already have around the house means you don’t need to spend money or visit a store to have some creative family fun.
In addition, it encourages your kids’ creativity while teaching them about recycling. There are many fun and useful crafts you can make with recyclable material. Earlier this week my kids and I turned an old pair of blue jeans into a dog toy. It was fun for us to make and our dog Ziggy is having a blast playing with it. Everyone wins!
dog toy made from old pair of jeans by cutting and braiding

Denim Dog Toy Supplies

  • Jeans
  • Tennis Ball
  • Scissors
I decided to make this toy out of jeans because of the heavyweight denim fabric. Ziggy is a fairly large dog and he loves to chew. For a smaller dog, you could make something similar out of a tee shirt or other lighter weight fabric.
dog playing with his homemade dog toy
If you don’t have an old tennis ball you could just ball some fabric up in place of the ball. Be innovative and make the project your own!

Denim Dog Toy Directions

Younger children can help do the braiding and tying, but an adult or teen should do all the cutting with sharp scissors. Check out the collage to see pictures of the numbered steps.
collage showing steps for creating dog toy
  1. Cut the waistband off the jeans.
  2. Cut the pants apart by cutting up both seams in the legs and cutting them apart at the crotch. You should end up with 2 flat pieces of fabric each with 2 legs.
  3. Arrange the 2 pieces so that the tops of the jeans overlap and the legs extend out from the center. Put the tennis ball in the center.
  4. Gather the fabric around the tennis ball and use the jean’s waistband to tie it tightly. Double knot it. Cut the waistband off to make the tie shorter.
  5. Cut each pants leg into 3 sections that are more or less even.
  6. Braid all four of the pants legs. When you get to the bottom of each leg use pieces of the waistband to tie off the ends.
  7. Trim the edges of the braids and cut off any extra fabric. It doesn’t have to be perfect, your dog won’t care!
  8. Give the toy to your favorite furry friend to enjoy.

dog enjoying his homemade toy

More Fun for Kids

Make sure you check out the OCRRA website for more educational activities for kids. You can play online games and challenge your children to a recycling quiz to see who knows more about what is and isn’t recyclable. And leave a comment and let me know how you and your family are making recycling a part of your lives!

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

1 thought on “Family Recycling and Crafting with Recyclables”

  1. Good work! Very original concepts! I appreciate having the chance to make my family and friends happy. I agree with your views on ecology and the environment.


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