What to Do with Old Trophies You Don’t Want

If you looked inside your childhood closet, then you would probably see boxes of your old things. Inside those boxes, you would likely see old pictures you drew, field day t-shirts, and awards. You probably received awards for sports, school, or religious group activities. Whether it was a national championship or a participation trophy, you should still be proud. Personally, I have dozens of medals from soccer tournaments growing up. Also, I have trophies from cheer competitions and certificates from school events. All the things that mark a modern childhood. But, what are you supposed to do with a bunch of trophies you got when you were a kid? Especially, when you’re an adult. Luckily, you have a few options. I am here to tell you what to do with old trophies that you don’t want anymore.

The Different Types of Awards

There are many different types of awards that you, probably, got as a child. There are trophies, medals, plaques, and certificates. Trophies are the fun, tall awards. Sometimes, there’s a figure on the top of the trophy. Medals are the awards that go around your neck. Typically, they’re circular. However, some medals are made into fun designs that represent the event. Plaques are the awards that your parents hung up on the wall. These have your name on them. Also, sports team pictures came on plaques. I had a lot of those growing up. Lastly, certificates are a piece of paper that you received commemorating an achievement. Why did I spend a whole paragraph explain the different types of awards? Well, it’s because they’re all different. However, they’re all easily recyclable.

What Your Awards Are Made Of

If your awards are made of materials that aren’t recyclable, then they’re not recyclable. An easy way to know if you can recycle your awards is to know what they’re made of. Each award is made of materials that make it strong and, sometimes, heavy. So, let’s see what your awards are probably made of.


It’s impossible to tell you what your specific trophy is made of. However, most trophies are made from the same or similar materials. Most trophies are made out of plastic. Sometimes, they’re made out of a lot of different types of plastic. Luckily, plastic is recyclable. Also, some trophies are made of other recycled materials. If the trophy has already been recycled, then you can definitely recycle it, again. Other materials that trophies are made of is metallic, gypsum, and acrylic. Usually, plastic, metallic, and gypsum are used together. If your trophy is cheap, then it could be made out of wood materials.


Contrary to popular belief, a gold medal isn’t made of pure gold. In fact, an Olympic gold medal is made of silver. The Olympics haven’t made a solid gold medal since 1912. So what are medals really made of? Well, that depends on how expensive the medals were. Really cheap medals that you buy at the dollar store are made of plastic. Some medals are made of a variety of metals. Manufacturers use a spin casting process to combine the medals. Other medals are made of PVC, plastic, or other recycled materials. All of these materials are recyclable.


Again, cheaper plaques will be made out of cheaper materials. Some plaques are made of plastic. The most popular type of plaque is wooden. However, the expensive plaques are made of tough and heavy materials. They’re made of stone, marble, glass, acrylic, and metals. All of which are recyclable.


These awards are the easiest for you to recycle. They’re made out of paper products. There are some paper awards that you don’t want to get rid of. Such as, your diploma. However, you don’t necessarily need to remember that you had perfect attendance in first grade. You can shred your certificates or simply throw them in the recycling bin. 

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What to Do with Old Trophies, Medals, Plaques, and Certificates

Now let’s get down to the good stuff. What should you do with your old awards that you don’t want? There are two main options. You can recycle them or you can reuse them.

Recycle Unwanted Awards

Overall, there are two main ways to recycle your old awards. First, send them to a recycle plant. Second, donate them to be refurbished. Both of these are easy. However, you may need to send your old awards to them.

Send Your Awards to a Recycling Plant

Since most awards are made of recyclable materials, you can recycle them. Realistically, your local recycling plant should be able to take them. However, it’s important to call first to confirm. Trophies will be broken down and recycled, accordingly. Something that’s unique about medals is that the ribbons are also recyclable. The medal is broken down for scrap recycling. Meanwhile, the ribbon is sent off to a cloth and textile recycling plant.

Donate Your Awards to Be Refurbished

This is the most popular way to recycle your old awards. There are a lot of places that will take your old awards and make them look new for someone else. These companies will break down your award for parts. Then, they will rebuild an award using those parts. Next, the rebuilt award is re-sold by the company. Sometimes, your refurbished award is donated to non-profit organizations to use. You can choose to ship your trophy to a company that refurbishes them, or you can see if your local award shop has a refurbishing program. It should be easy to find a place to donate your old awards.

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Reuse Unwanted Awards

The number one way to reuse your old awards is to craft. At first, I didn’t think that there was any way you could craft trophies into something useful. But, there are a ton of ways that you can craft your old awards into something amazing.

You Can Reuse the Trophy Topper

Most of the crafts you can do with old awards involves a trophy topper. Whether it’s a person or a sports ball, you can use a trophy topper to spice up everyday objects. First, you need to remove the trophy topper. Most of the toppers can be unscrewed. If yours can’t be unscrewed with your hands, then you may need a screw driver. Next, you can put the trophy topper on just about anything. For example, you can screw the trophy toppers onto a cork for a wine bottle. Or, you can glue the topper onto a plate cover and use it as a handle. I’ve also heard of people making the trophy toppers into heads for a coat rack. There are endless possibilities!

You Can Store Stuff in the Trophies

Most vintage trophies are cup shaped. This means that you can put things into them. For example, you can put utensils in them during a dinner party. Or, you can put beautiful flowers in them for a center piece. The trophy works like a vase. Most people prefer vintage trophies for these things. However, I’m sure your parents would appreciate a vase that has your name on it.

You Can Build a Wind Chime

If you’ve collected medals over the years, like I have. Then, you might be at a loss for what to use them for. You can build a wind chime out of old medals. First, you need to cut the ribbons off of your medals. Next, find durable string that can hold the medals. Then, loop the string around the medal where the ribbon was. For this next part, you will need to find a top for your wind chime that has multiple holes and is strong. Once you’ve found it, then you will tie the other end of the strings to the top. The medals should dangle from the top of the wind chime on a string. Lastly, hang the wind chime up on your porch!


In conclusion, there are quite a few ways that you can get rid of your old awards. From recycling the materials to crafting with them, your old awards don’t have to go to waste. The most popular way to recycle old awards is to donate them to refurbishment programs. The programs are a great way to get rid of your unwanted awards and give them to others who could use them! Overall, your old awards don’t have to take up space in your home if you don’t want them to. I’m sure you can easily find something to do with your old trophies you don’t want.   

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Bailey Longhurst

I am amazed every day by the beauty that this world provides for us and think it is important to preserve it! Taking care of ourselves and our earth is crucial and I want to help people discover new ways to do both. Publishing for Green and Growing is a unique way that I can get my message across, and I hope you all enjoy what we write about!

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