10 Ways to Reuse Plastic Straws

July 30, 2013
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Do you have old plastics straws you’re thinking about getting rid of? There is no need to throw them away, as we have some great tips to help you put them to good use. At the Planet Forward blog we are always looking for ways to help you live a more sustainable and economical lifestyle, and part of that is embracing upcycling. Upcycling is the term used for reusing something or using it for a purpose other than the one it was originally intended.

(photo: ssww.com)

So far in our sustainable living series we’ve shared with you how to reuse: plastic bags, paper towel rolls, tin foil, old t-shirts, coffee cans, coffee grounds, tennis balls, potatoes, tea bags, ice cube trays, old towels, wine bottles, wine corks, citrus scraps, mascara wands, pop can tabs, baking soda, old pantyhose, plastic bottle lids, mason jars, tissue boxes, bananas and their peels, coffee filters, olive oil, duct tape, milk jugs, mint tins, shower puffs, lemons, rubber bands, shower caps, silica gel packages, onions, seltzer/soda water, cardboard, bread tags, bread bags, Q-tips/cotton swabs, old bed sheets, safety pins, burned out light bulbs, rice, contact lens cases, old candles, plastic cups, maps, chalk, K-cups, nail polish, paper coffee cups, eggshells, bobby pins, toothpaste, and old toothbrushes. Today we’ll be adding 10 ways to reuse plastic straws to our upcycling list.

1. Keep jewelry from getting tangled: Chains, especially thin ones, tend to easily get knotted when you put them away. According to Reader’s Digest “before storing a chain, run it through the inside of a straw, cut to proper length, and close the chain clasp before putting it away. It’ll always be ready to wear.”

2. Give height to your flower arrangement: When some of your flower just aren’t tall enough for your vase or are shorter than the other flowers you now have the perfect solution. Place the stem of the too short flower in a thin plastic straw, and then cut the straw to the desired length. This works well because the hollow straw will allow your flower to still get the water it needs to stay vibrant.

3. Recycle Plastic Bags to Make Jewelry Beads: Straws play an integral part in making your plastic beads. What’s great about this craft is that is has two interactive parts as you and your children can make the beads and then later make your own jewelry. You can find the instructions on our blog here:

4. Jewelry pieces: if making your own beads might be a little advanced for you, you could cut up different coloured straws and allow kids to thread them along left over pieces of string, twine or yarn. This is a fun and easy way for them to make their own necklaces and bracelets.

5. Juice carton sail boats: Using a plastic straw to hold up your sail you can have fun on a rainy summer day making this craft project with your kids.

6. DIY bubble wand: This is a great trick to have up your sleeve if entertaining multiple children. To make bubble wands cut the end off the straws on a sharp angle. If you don’t have enough straws you could cut them in half on the sharp angle to get two wands out of each straw. If you don’t have enough bubble mix, put a mix of slightly diluted dishwashing liquid in a shallow pan. To make different coloured bubbles mix in a little bit of food colouring to the soap mixture. This is a fun and inexpensive way to keep kids occupied this summer.

7. Blow art: Put a dime sized amount of water colour paint on piece of paper and blow on it using a straw, this will give you a fun splattered look. Repeat with different colours. You can then use your art to cover a can or other item to make a cool pen or other supply holder.

8. Solve caulking problems: According to Care2.com “Quite a few DIY blogs suggest taping a small length of drinking straw to the nozzle of a caulking gun to get caulk into tight corners. Silver Spring, MD HVAC contractor Harvey W. Hottel also recommends using drinking straws to smooth caulk lines.”

9. Buffet Labels: You can use a straw as the base for a buffet label. Write the pertinent information on an adhesive label or piece of paper, like what the dish is, if it contains an allergen like nuts or if its vegan. Then wrap the paper or label around the straw and secure with tape (if needed). Place the flag either in the food or tape it to the back of the bowl or platter. Straws are longer than most toothpicks so this might be the better solution for certain food items.

10. Balloon holder: if you blow up balloons and want to place them on a table or in a centerpiece without using helium, tape the balloon to the end of a straw. This will not only hold up the balloon, but will allow you to mix the balloon with flowers or anything else.

With these simple tips you can see how easy it is to upcycle the humblest of items.
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