14 Creative Ways to Make Recycled Jewelry

When most people think of recycling their household items, they only think of their city’s curbside service. Sending off those items to a recycling center that prepares the materials for a new purpose is a great way to give back to the environment. However, there are other ways to recycle. Repurposing the items you have sitting at home is a great way to recycle the materials you no longer use. In fact, this practice helps you to get even more use out of the material before you send it off to a recycling center. One way you can repurpose your household items is to make recycled jewelry. Other people pay money for a good looking necklace, but you can make your own for free!

Using Metal

Let’s begin by talking about the recycled jewelry you can make with the different metal pieces you have at home. Granted, a lot of jewelry requires metal, like the chain of a necklace or earring hooks. These ideas go beyond that. There are pieces of metal that you probably do not use or rarely use that you can use for jewelry instead. Here are a few ideas.

Studs and Push-Pins 

If you want to make a statement with your jewelry, use studs and push-pins. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can create a variety of looks with them. One easy way to use them is to push them through fabric or leather. This immediately gives your choker or bracelet a more edgy look. You can also paint the studs or pins beforehand to make them all uniform. 

Old Brooches 

If you have some old brooches from your parents or grandparents, you can find another way to wear them around. Gather them together on a chain or fabric necklace to create the ultimate antique necklace. You can use as few or as many brooches as you want because you get to decide your style. Some people choose to spray paint them beforehand to create uniformity.

Bobby Pins

Sometimes, the coating on bobby pins starts to fade away, showing the plain metal underneath. Instead of leaving them in the bottom of your drawer while you use newer, better looking pins, use them in jewelry. Take a metal wire and create a triangle. On the top of the triangle, attach the hardware for your earrings. On the bottom of the triangle, hang your bobby pins. You can paint them a variety of bright colors and patterns or go for a solid color. 

Guitar Strings

It seems to be such a waste to toss out a guitar string just because it breaks. Guitar strings generally consist of nylon with a kind of metal wrapping, which makes it easy to mold it. You can wrap the string into a loop or any other shape. You can add these shapes to earrings, a bracelet, a necklace, or a brooch. 

Safety Pins

We have already covered here on Green and Growing a variety of ways that you can use old safety pins. You can find more ideas to make safety pin recycled jewelry in the article here, but here is one of the ones we discussed previously. After painting the safety pins the color you want, hang them on a chain for a simple statement necklace.

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Using Paper

Other than metal, you can also use paper to create recycled jewelry. This includes any kind of paper product, whether you have scrap cardstock, regular paper, or even cardboard. Paper is quite versatile, so take a look at the following ideas.

Paper Beads

One way to use paper to make recycled jewelry is to make paper beads. Start by cutting the paper into half-inch wide by two and a half-inch long triangles. Next, spread glue on one side of the triangle, which will be the inside of the bead. Starting with the wide end of the triangle, roll the paper tightly around a straw. Once dry, your beads are ready to go!

Toilet Paper Rolls

If you want to give your kids a great project to work on, let them make bracelets with toilet paper rolls acting as the base. The kids can then glue on buttons, patterned paper, and other decorative items. This allows them to have a creative project to work on that they can also wear around and show off.

Crimped Cardboard

Though it may not look like much initially, crimped cardboard is actually a great material to work with for recycled jewelry. All you have to do is cut out the shape that you want and paint it. Shiny silver, gold, and bronze paint make it look like it is not even cardboard! You can then easily attach the pieces to earrings.


If you have old magazines at the house, you can actually use the paper inside for different patterns. You will also need the glass transparent pebbles that many people use for decorating. Cut out the pattern on the paper so that it fits on the bottom of each pebble. This creates a cute bubble effect looking at the pattern through the glass. You can then attach these pebbles to earrings, bracelets, necklaces, or brooches.

Using Fabric

People may not think about using fabric to create recycled jewelry, but it actually works really well. It does not matter if you have light, almost transparent fabric or heavy fabric. You can find a fun jewelry project to use it for.

Scrap Fabric

With any kind of scrap fabric you find, you can braid or weave it into a bracelet. This is really simple, but there are several ways to glam it up. For example, if you have a drawer with nuts and bolts in it, nuts are a great accessory. Paint the nuts silver, gold, or any other color, and pull the fabric through them. This also helps bunch up the fabric in intervals, which adds to the look of the bracelet.

Cotton Shirt

Another great idea is to use an old cotton shirt that you no longer wear. Cut out a wide section of the torso so that all the fabric is still connected and forms a circle. Then, cut the fabric into thin strips, but keep the fabric all connected in the back. Once you cut all the strips, you can cut more strips from the rest of the shirt to wrap around the back. Adjust it how you want, and it doubles as a necklace and a scarf.

Using Plastic

If you have extra plastic sitting around at home, you can also use it to create recycled jewelry. Plastic is causing major problems in the world today because there is so much of it. We should keep reusing plastic before we send it off to a recycling center so that we can reduce how much plastic we use. Here are some great ways to use it for jewelry.

Plastic Bottles

This idea works for both plastic bottles and any other scrap plastic that you have. You can cut out several pieces and attach them to earrings to create dangly ones. If you apply a little bit of heat, you can also cause the plastic to warp and curl a bit. (Just be careful if you heat plastic because it can give off chemicals that you do not want to inhale!) You can keep them plain if you want or paint them to add some color.


Most people have a container of mismatched buttons that they say they will use some day but never do. Thankfully, there are several uses for buttons if you are making jewelry. You can glue them onto earrings easily. You can also take elastic string and weave it through the buttons to create a thick bracelet. Someone has even woven string through a bunch of buttons to create a statement necklace! The possibilities are endless.


Though it seems obvious, you can also use beads to create jewelry. There is an endless supply of tutorials on the internet that show you a variety of ways to make jewelry with them. You can create necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, and it just takes a bit of creativity to help you do it.

Make Your Own Recycled Jewelry

It does not take much to make recycled jewelry because you most likely already have most of the necessary items at home. This is a great way to get more use out of the materials you buy because it means that you will keep them longer. This cuts down on waste and prevents materials from going to a recycling center too early. It should be that once you can no longer use the material that you get rid of it, so it is best to keep using what you already have. Recycled jewelry is a fun craft for both kids and parents and it helps the environment in the long run.

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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