Upcycling Rubbish

I have been using time lately to look more closely at the world around us and nature on our doorsteps. The images and footage of nature taking back areas of the world where it’s usually too busy have been amazing and the reduction in pollution and rubbish giving the Earth a chance to repair shows the impact we can have and it is still reversible.

A starting point to helping the planet is by following the three Rs; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. A lot of people try to follow these to help preserve resources, in our house we are very good at recycling but trying to be better at reducing and reusing.

When we are trying to reuse we pass things on to other people or give away to charity shops. But these are usually toys or clothes which is quite straightforward. There is a definite trendiness in repurposing things or upcycling with programmes on TV or how-to guides on the internet.

We (myself and my children) decided to have a go at how we could re-use a commonly thrown away item. Over the years we have used many, many junk items for models with lots of robots and inventions giving many hours of fun. However what if we tried to make something a little longer lasting? We decided to try to make something with a plastic milk bottle.

We always recycle these but if we make them into something else; it’s not using resources to recycle them. There are many ideas if you look on the internet but the ones we decided to try were a milk bottle watering can and a milk bottle garden light.

First and very important make sure you wash the milk bottles out very well! Once you have a clean milk bottle you can choose what you would like to make.

To make the watering can you will need:

A milk bottle (it doesn’t matter what size), a hammer, a nail, something to rest on while hammering, marker pens.

Craft materials

  1. Take the lid off the milk bottle and put it on a wooden board or even a large ball of blu tack.
  2. You might need adult help for this. Hammer the nail through the lid to make holes, remember the more holes the faster the water flows.
  3. Also poke a hole near the top of the handle of the milk bottle which will help the water flow more easily.
  4. Put the lid back on the bottle and decorate the bottle with the marker pens.

A watering can made from a plastic milk bottle

To make the garden light or luminary you will need:

A milk bottle, a pair of sharp scissors, sticky tape or sticky back plastic, a few leaves or flowers collected while outside or pictures of leaves/animals/butterflies etc , marker pens, a battery operated tea light, some stones or pebbles if needed.

1. Draw a line around the milk bottle below the handle.

milk bottle with line

2. You might need adult help for this. Cut right round the line. (We are using the base of the milk bottle; what could you use the other part for??

3. Decorate the outside of the milk bottle. You can use leaves or flowers collected on a walk or pictures you have printed or draw with markers. If you use the leaves or pictures stick them on the outside then cover it with sticky tape or sticky back plastic so they don’t fall off.

A child drawing a line around a plastic milk bottle

  1. Put the tealight in the bottom and wait for it to get dark! If it is windy you may need the pebbles in the bottom to weigh it down.

A tea light holder made from a plastic milk bottle

Which ideas would you like to try? What do you have that you usually recycle that you could upcycle? Be sure to send us pictures of what you make.

Written by Joanne McKenna, Learning Assistant, with help from her children.