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


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.


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

How to Make a Blue Braided Rug

If you want a unique focal point for your floor think about making a braided rug in shades of soft blue and white. Braided rugs are made by braiding a long stretch of rope and then coiling it into a pattern and stitching the coils together tightly to keep them in place. The braids can be made from natural fibers like cotton, sisal or jute, or artificial fibers like nylon. The actual braiding is done using a technique called flatbed, to make sure the rug doesn’t have uncomfortable bumps and ridges.

An interesting suggestion that works well for a modern, largely white or Scandinavian style room is it to make a blue rug by braiding rags in various shades of blue and white taken from old clothes, jeans, towels, or anything mainly blue that can be braided and stitched. The method is quite simple. You cut the fabric into strips, making sure that you take out any seams, buttons, zippers or fasteners as these items won’t braid smoothly and will destroy the flatbed effect and you join the strips into long lengths.

Braiding is usually done using three strands of material, but you can use multiples of three, depending on how narrow or thick you want the braid to be. Thick braids have better tensile strength, making the rug tougher, but they will also reduce the flatness of the rug. To make a braid, you can stitch the three strands together at the top, or make a knot, and then fasten them onto a firm surface like a pillar. Braid the three strips as tightly as you can. The tighter the braid, the smoother the rug. Remember that the rug should be made of one continuous braid, so once your strips run out, attach more material by stitching the ends of new strands on the old ones. Do the joining carefully to maintain the smoothness of the braid.

Once you have a long enough braid, coil the whole long braid into shape. Round and oval rugs are the most common shapes, but you can be creative and come up with something different. Stitch the coils firmly in place, and if you wish, reinforce the bonds by stitching a backing material to the lower side of the mat. It can be rubber, nylon or raffia. You now have your very own blue braided rug, and you have also helped the environment by recycling fabric.

How To Make A Braided Rug

3 Places Other Than Ebay to Find Cheap Used Furniture

There are so many ways to “live green” and using items that are already in existence, whether aquired from your grandmother or purchased from someone else’s grandmother is totally in line with the “Irish Attic” philosophy. Thank you to today’s Guest Author for giving us some tips for how to aquire vintage pieces, whether antique or not, if they find a new life in your home, they will be treasured.

An almost limitless resource of used furniture exists just waiting to transform your home into a dream interior at a fraction of the cost of new furniture. Of course antiques and collectables make this choice of furnishing expensive so how do you find the sort of furniture that you can afford?

Fortunately because of the proliferation of old furniture, there are plenty of sources to check out and not just online either. You might even find an antique for a bargain at the same time.

Auction houses

Auctions can be a great place to find bargains. It’s important to attend the viewing day which is usually a couple of days before the auction. Make sure that you decide in advance what you are going to spend on your desired piece and STICK to it! Find out where your local auction house is by looking in the local press, the phone book or searching online. make sure you can collect your purchase within the allotted time. You will need a truck especially if you’ve splashed out on a complete set of bedroom furniture!

House Clearance

Auctioneers also run house clearance sales. Again look online for these companies and join the mailing list. You will be bidding against professionals who are looking for bargains but don’t be put off by this, you may be willing to pay more than they are as you are not looking for a profit.

Garage Sales and Garbage Skips

The easiest place to find cheap and free used furniture. Don’t be afraid to barter. Ultimately, garage sales are designed to get rid of unwanted stuff. They’ll be grateful that you are taking it away for them! Make sure you get the owner’s permission to look through their skip if you decide to try this idea.

Although Ebay is a great place to find all sorts of used furniture and unwanted items but it’s actually quite a lot of fun acquiring your heirlooms of the future offline. Each piece will have a unique story of its own to tell.

How to Make Used Furniture Look Awesome

Heat Curtain

Last winter I decided that I was going to put to use several quilts that are typically stored in the cupboard for guests and so rarely make an appearance. I used curtain clips to hang each one on a spring rod, then placed them around the house in areas that would help to corral the heat.  One went across a stairwell, but it was easy to push it aside to go up and down the stairs. Another hung at the beginning of a hallway and another in the doorway of a rarely used formal dining room.