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?

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