Recycling Projects Using Large Cans

There are so many things that you can do with large cans. They’re great for organizing, storing, building blocks for children, crafts … There are so many things that you can do with large cans that we wanted to start this page to give our readers some ideas. If you have a project or idea for using large cans that we haven’t listed here, please feel free to leave a comment.

Decorate Your Recycled Can

You can cover the outside of your recyled can using any of the items or methods below:

  • wallpaper sample or scraps
  • decoupage pictures
  • decorative napkins
  • aluminum flashing
  • mosiac using broken dishes
  • mosiac or glue on buttons
  • mosiac tiles
  • paper mache
  • gift wrap
  • construction paper
  • book cover
  • decorative contact paper
  • paint

Bank

Cut a thin rectangle out of the lid using a craft knife. Decorate your new bank however you like.

Craft Storage

Store craft & sewing supplies in large cans with or without a lid. Use labels or pictures to identify what’s in each can.

Flower Vase

Set a jar or water glass into a decorated can.

Hanging Vase

Paint or decoupage as many clean aluminum cans as you will want for vases. Punch a hole near the top of the can with a nail and fill half way with water. Hang on picture hooks and place flowers or greenery in each can.

Kitchen Utensil Holder

Prepare plaster-of-paris or cement according to package directions. Pour 1 to 2-inches of plaster into utensil holder to make it more stable. Allow to dry before adding kitchen utensils!

Magnifying Waterscope

Use a can opener to remove both ends from a large can. Cover the sharp edges on both ends of the can with strong tape such as duct or masking tape to protect your child and prevent the plastic wrap from tearing. Stretch plastic wrap over one end of the can and secure with a rubber band, then wrap tape around the can to secure the rubber band. Tip: to get a better view line the inside of the can with anything black, such as black paint, craft foam or construction paper.

Dip the covered end of the can into the water and look into the can from the open end. The pressure of the water against the plastic wrap curves it, making it into a magnifying lens!

To make your waterscope more fun place objects in the water to view or take your waterscope to a tide pool.

Make Life Easier

Keep your small survival items in a large coffee can stored in your trunk and/or in a convenient place in your home.

As a campfire cooking utensil you can boil foods in the can and place the aluminum lid directly on your coals as a fry pan.

Store candle stubs.

Use cans for mixing custom paint colors then just snap the plastic lid on to store. Don’t forget to dab a bit of paint on the outside of the can to make finding the color you want easy. If you’ll be storing your paint for longer than a week or two seal the lid with tape to make it airtight.

A plastic lid from a large can will make your next painting job less messy. Cut a slit in the center of the lid and pull the paintbrush handle through the slit so that the brush is on the side of the lid with the lip. Dip your brush in the paint and slap away at the wall just like you normally would only this time there won’t be any drips down the handle of the brush or splatters on your hands or eyeglasses.

Pantry Storage

Store opened dry goods in cans that have reusable plastic lids such as empty coffee cans. Leave them right in their paper or plastic bags, just drop into the can & label, or pour into can, cut label off original container & tape to can.

Safe Bank

Glue a few of the original potato chips to the inside lid of the can. Keep it in your pantry as a safe place to store valuables. Few burglars will even bother to glance twice at the can, but if they do they’ll see the potato chips through the lid and hopefully won’t bother to open the can. As further insurance instead of gluing chips to the lid you can put your valuables inside, then stack chips on top of them. It will be harder for you to retrieve your goodies when you want them but they will be safer from prying hands since the can will look and feel more like a real potato chip can.

Tip: don’t use this method to store heavy valuables as the can will feel too heavy and be a dead giveaway that there’s more than potato chips in it.

Safe Mailer

Use an empty container with its original lid to mail cookies, other baked goods and breakable items. Just fill with goodies, securely tape the lid in place, wrap in plain paper, address and mail. Don’t forget to label your package “Fragile”, although I label all my packages “Breakable” and “Glass” to ensure they are treated gently.

Stilts

Turn two 1-pound coffee cans upside down so that the plastic lid is on the bottom. Leave the lid on as it will help to protect your floors. There are several ways to attach foot or hand holds:

Spread epoxy glue on the bottom of two old shoes or sandals that are large enough for your kids to put their feet into. Attach shoes to the metal top of the now upside down coffee cans. When epoxy is dry your kids can put their feet inside the shoes and take off.

Using a nail poke two holes, one on each side of the can about half and inch from the top. Thread several strands of ribbon or string that have been braided together, or some rope, through holes in cans. Tie a knot inside the can. Kids can stand on the cans and hold onto the rope handles. They’ll need to practice lifting each foot with the corresponding rope to be able to walk in their stilts.

Cut an old belt into six-inch lengths so that you have 4 lengths for each pair of stilts. Nail one end of each length to the top of each can so that there are two straps on each can that are spaced so that a child can slide his/her foot into them. You might want to start by having your child stand on a pair of cans while you position and mark the straps. After nailing the straps in place (without the child’s feet in them!) turn the cans over and bend the nails down.

Wine Rack

This project can be made using aluminum or cardboard cans. I used a mix of coffee canisters and oatmeal canisters. Give them a rinse. Spray with three coats of paint. Let dry completely.

Use just a bit of tape at the mouths of each canister to connect three canisters together for the base. Do the same with two cans for the second tier. Glue each row of canisters together with clear silicone or any other strong glue, then glue the row of two cans to the row of three cans and top the two can row with one can. When glue is dry, remove the tape and you have a wine rack for FREE – whee!

more great recycling ideas

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