There is something immensely gratifying about saving something that would be trash from the landfill and using it for a whole new purpose. I have no shortage of crafty and home dec projects on this blog that take an old recyclable and turn it into something fun.
However, when you are pondering the items in your recycling bin, or see that cute idea on Pinterest, you should seriously consider exactly what that container was used for originally, because there are some recyclables that are NOT worth crafting with.
The main concern for reusing or repurposing containers is the possibility of misidentifying the contents. This can confuse children as to what items are safe to play with verses those that could be potentially harmful. Laundry products are something that should always be stored in their original containers. For instance, if you use a liquid laundry packet container as a decorative piece to store candy, children might associate liquid laundry packets as items safe for play.
Children (and even adults) may have a difficult time telling the difference between candy stored in a detergent container and actual detergent.
There are also many recyclable materials that pose other hazards such as lacerations, poisoning, or choking, that should to be taken into account when deciding whether something is appropriate for a project that could get into the hands of small children. That is why I have teamed up with the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) to remind crafters that cleaning product containers should be used for their intended purpose only, and never replaced with contents other than their own.
The one thing you should ask yourself when repurposing a container is:
“Would I allow my anyone (including a child or pet) to play with this container if it was full of its original contents?If the answer is NO, then I would strongly advise against you from using it in a craft.
Examples: Newsprint, magazines and even junk mail
Examples: Baby wipe tubs, formula canisters, baby food containers
Examples: Shipping boxes, cereal boxes, pizza boxes, paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes, potato chip canisters
Examples: Capri Sun, Kool Aid
Examples: Pie plates, chafing dishes, foil
Examples: Take out containers, styrofoam cups, meat trays
Examples: Soup cans, tuna cans
Examples: Plastic and paper plates, paper cups, plastic silverware** **Sharp knives can pose a laceration risk
Containers you should USE WITH CAUTION:Glass containers:
Examples: Peanut butter jars, wine bottles, milk bottles, incandescent light bulbs
These shouldn’t be used for crafts with children unless there is proper supervision. These crafts should NOT be stored within reach of small children. >
Examples: Styrofoam packing peanuts, soda bottle or juice bottle lids, bottle caps
These are not ideal since if the object falls off from the craft project it can become a choking hazard.
Containers which may have contained allergens:
Examples: Peanut butter jars, egg cartons,
If these items are not washed completely and thoroughly, they may pose a risk to people with allergies
Examples: Plastic wrap or aluminum foil boxes, sheet glass, soda cans, **soup cans, plastic cutlery Sharp edges can pose a laceration risk if improperly handled.
Materials which may contain mold or bacteria:
These materials may be safe to use if clean or dry, but they also may harbor bacteria or mold which can cause illness if they are contaminated.
Examples: Egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, meat/poultry trays, cardboard or paper that may have gotten wet
Examples: Dry cleaning bag, grocery store bags **These are only safe is opened with a smooth edge opener. Use caution if the cans have sharp edges after opening. Bags that come loose can pose a suffocation risk. Children’s crafts involving plastic bags should be supervised at all times.
Recyclables you should AVOID using:The most common area of concern when reusing these types of recyclables is that it makes it difficult to differentiate between the repurposed use and the original use of the container. Children and pets cannot always read if something has been relabeled so they cannot tell the difference between a fun decorative item and a potentially unsafe one.
Examples: Concentrated Detergent Pack containers, liquid or powdered detergent containers, bleach containers
Using a detergent container for an alternative use can lead to confusion. Children can easily misunderstand the contents of a repurposed container are NOT the same as the original container. I have seen crafts including CANDY JARS made from these types of containers. Removing the labels is not enough for someone to tell the difference. It is best to steer clear of using these types of recyclables for anything other than the original purpose. These recyclables should be just that: RECYCLED. Compressed gas or Aerosol containers
Examples: Propane tanks, hairspray bottles, spray paint canisters
Even if they appear empty, puncturing a can under pressure can lead to injury. The lids also tend to come off and can be a choking hazard to small children. Anything used to store flammables
Examples: Lighter fluid, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, paint thinner
These containers are typically very difficult to get completely clean and even small amounts of material can be flammable in the wrong situation. (You wouldn’t want to take a hot glue gun to a bottle of alcohol for example.) Additionally, you would never want someone to confuse a craft with a potentially dangerous bottle of flammable materials. Pill/medicine containers
Many tablets, pills and capsules look very similar to candy. Therefore using these bottles for crafts or to store materials like beads or office supplies can be very confusing for children. Although many of these bottles have ‘safety’ lids, it is still not a good idea to blur the lines between craft and medication storage. Fluorescent Light bulbs:
Examples: Tube light bulbs, “curly” bulbs
These bulbs contain mercury and can be toxic if broken. They need to be disposed of properly (not in your regular trash) and you certainly don’t want them lying around your house for crafting purposes.
Examples: Window cleaner, Powdered cleansers, drain opener
For similar reasons for why you don’t want to reuse laundry detergent containers, these types of materials are also something you should only use for their original purpose.
Examples: Fertilizers, Weed killer, Bug Spray, Rat Poison
I love a great upcycled craft as much as anyone, but we need to be completely aware of the possible unintended consequences from using recyclable containers and materials for their unintended purpose. It isn’t worth risking an accident to create a craft, not when there are so many safe alternatives out there!
Pledge to keep your laundry room safe by taking ACI’s KEY Pledge! You’ll be entered to win a $2,500 gift card* for a laundry room makeover!
This post was written in conjunction with ACI and I was compensated for my time and materials. The project idea and post is my own. *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends on December 31, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Open to legal residents of 50 U.S. and DC, 21 and older. Void where prohibited. For Official Rules, go to http://www.keypledge.com/Keypledge/TermsConditions.html