Trash to Treasures

I hate throwing things away. No, I am not a hoarder, actually the opposite. But I see potential in little things that most people would throw in the trash or recycling bin. Bits of packaging, old greeting cards, boxes, catalogues.  Perfect art project materials – and all free. So a few years ago I started our very own “treasure box”. In it went all of these fun bits and pieces that I knew could be used again. I was amazed at how quickly I had amassed quite a collection of unique, fun, creative materials to use.

Sometimes, I go into our treasure box looking for materials for a specific project. Sometimes, we pull out a dozen or so things and see what we can create. And when I just need a few minutes (or hours) of quiet time, I pull put the treasure box and let my girl go through and examine and admire each of the treasures in the box. She loves discovering everything, and I love that she is entertained.

The most popular items in our treasure box, clockwise from top left: clothing tags, fabric scraps, egg cartons, paint chips.

A few tips to start your own treasure box:

  • Start with a relatively large box.  (We use an old moving box)  You’ll be surprised how quickly it starts filling up.
  • Keep your box accesible.  If it is hard to get to you will be less likely to add things to it.
  • When in doubt, add it to your box.  You can always throw it out later if you don’t end up using it for any art projects.
  • Don’t be afraid of the mess.  This is a big one for my OCD personality.  I was first trying to organize my treasure box.  Scraps of paper all in an envelope, boxes nested together nicely, etc.  It was too hard to keep up.  So now, I just throw things in and try not to think about it.  :)
  • You will be amazed at how many treasures are waiting for you in your trash / recycling bin!

Some ideas of what to put in your treasure box:

  • toilet paper rolls
  • paper towel rolls
  • mesh bags
  • packaging materials
  • egg crates
  • milk jugs
  • 2 liter soda bottles
  • magazines
  • junk mail
  • water bottles
  • old socks
  • clothing labels
  • business cards
  • newspaper
  • paint chips
  • old calendars
  • paint stirrers
  • fabric / ribbon / twine / yarn scraps
  • buttons
  • plastic baby wipes containers
  • shampoo bottles (cleaned out)
  • cereal / cracker / pasta boxes
  • oatmeal boxes
  • plastic produce boxes
  • starbucks coffee sleeves
  • wrapping paper tubes
  • ribbons and bows from gift wrap
  • used ziplock baggies (washed out)
  • aluminum foil
  • packing materials
  • greeting cards / postcards
  • shoe boxes
  • stickers
  • old art projects / paintings
  • little plastic toys
  • anything else that catches your eye… think creatively!

Would you be interested in seeing some of the projects that we make using treasures from our treasure box?

  • Indoor Snowmen - [...] to get creative. With a few boxes of cornstarch, some shaving cream, and some materials from our treasure box, we made snowmen from the comfort (and warmth) of our living room.  Hours of fun playing with the [...]ReplyCancel

  • Ursula Rosien - Hello! I’m stopping by from Babble’s website and I love your idea of a treasure box! I’m discovering the excitement of using unusual materials for crafting ;) Thank you for the idea.
    Ursula
    {latest post}
    http://kraftmint.com/2013/08/12/gifts-quick-cute-gift-wrap/ReplyCancel

  • Building With The Treasure Box - […] while ago I told you about our treasure box, where we keep all sorts of odds and ends that are just too full of potential to throw away. Well, […]ReplyCancel

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