Find out what you should do to dispose of old craft supplies responsibly and easily, some of these ideas might surprise you!
After you declutter your craft stash, you may have a pile of unwanted craft supplies that looks daunting. I think for a lot of us, the idea of trying to figure out how to dispose of various materials sounds so labor intensive and annoying that we just toss everything into the garbage just so we can be done with it. But we can do better than that!
Today I’m going to take you through some steps to dispose of old craft supplies easily and responsibly. Are you ready?
Step 1: Reuse
Set aside any craft supplies that can still be used by someone else. If they are full or new but just unwanted, consider asking if you can donate to a local school, daycare, library, nursing home or senior center that may appreciate extra art supplies. There are also charities that specifically collect art supplies, for example, here in Chicago we have a place called The Waste Shed that does just that. To see if there’s something similar near you, google the phrase “where to donate art supplies near me”!
Your local charity resale shop may also accept craft supply donations, but make sure to ask first. We have one in town that does and one that doesn’t.
Another option is give reusable craft supplies that still have life left in them to crafty friends, neighbors or relatives. You could also host a craft supply swap party where you invite a bunch of crafty friends over and trade supplies (though this might not have the intended affect of decluttering, ha!)
And finally, if you’re ready to get rid of a DIY product like leftover paint, don’t forget to see if you can give it to your local rebuilding or reuse depot or put it up on your local freebie page on social media or online!
Step 2: Recycle
Of course you can recycle any paper or cardboard craft scraps: This includes regular paper, cardstock, scrapbook paper, non-metallic wrapping paper, butcher paper, and all kinds of cardboard!
Glass: You can recycle glass in your regular recycling in most places.
Markers: You can recycle markers (this program may be temporarily paused, click the link to check).
Metal: check with your local recycling authority or metal scrappers to find out what kinds of metal can be recycled in your area.
Plastic: Plastic recycling can differ dramatically depending on where you live, so be sure to check. You may be able to recycle that old (clean) plastic paint palette or a clean empty plastic jar, for example, if the item has a recycling symbol on it and your city takes that type of plastic.
Wood: Check out this awesome website for recycling wood. They primarily seem to deal with wood used in home projects, you can also donate things like lumber or old doors or windows to your local Habitat ReStore or rebuilding exhange. If you have unused craft wood to get rid of (balsa, for example) consider donating this to anywhere that takes craft supplies like a school or daycare. Even better if you live near a university with an architecture program, you will definitely find some students who can use it there!
Pencils and Pencil Shavings: I thought this one would be easy, but it turns out there doesn’t seem to be a good way to recycle pencils. Your best best is to buy environmentally friendly pencils and use them up as much as possible. As for pencil shavings, if they are just wood (with no plastic wrapping) they’re biodegradable. The won’t break down in the landfill but if you compost, you can try putting them in there!
Step 3: Toss
If you can’t reuse it and you can’t recycle it, then you have to dispose of old craft supplies. But while there are some things that can obviously go straight in your garbage can (like scraps of pipe cleaners, dried out clay, vinyl scraps, or acrylic yarn) there are other kinds of craft supplies that need to be properly and responsibly disposed of. So let’s talk about those!
How to dispose of paint and sealants: Depending on the type of paint, the answer is different.
- Acrylic and latex paint: if you have exhausted the options for reusing or donating leftover paint, you can simply open the container and let it dry and then throw it out. You can add kitty litter, sand or shredded paper to make it dry faster. Do not throw out wet paint.
- Any other water based paint (like watercolors): ok, to throw in the regular garbage.
- Oil based paint: must always be disposed of in your local hazardous waste disposal. Some localities have collection days, others have dropoff locations or will pick it up from your home. Do not put oil based paints and sealers in your regular garbage can. This includes things like stains, oil based poly and varnishes.
How to dispose of wood: Lots of people would probably be tempted to think that they can just save up any old wood and toss it in their next s’mores bonfire to burn, but it’s important to know that you should NOT burn any wood that’s been treated with chemicals. If you aren’t sure, don’t do it. Treated wood that can’t be reused should be thrown out.
How to dispose of glue: For water-based glues like school glue you can let it harden and throw it in the garbage just like water based paints. Same for a glue stick. But if you have industrial glue or glue labeled as flammable, it needs to be disposed of in your local hazardous waste disposal. This includes things like super glue, E6000, rubber cement, epoxy, etc. Again, some localities have drop off spots or special collection dates for hazardous waste. Do not put these types of glues in the garbage.
How to dispose of box cutter or craft knife blades: Bet you never thought about this one did you?! When I was in grad school for architecture this was actually something we learned about, can you believe it? But imagine what it would be like for the janitorial staff if several hundred students were just tossing craft knife blades in the regular garbage cans. So dangerous! And it would be dangerous for your neighborhood refuse collector to handle garbage bags with loose blades in them too!
Instead, many box cutter and craft knife companies (ELFA for example) make collection containers. Here’s a storage container for snap off utility blades. There are some craft blade refill packs that include a secret little slot to stick old blades inside. When I was in school, I put all of my old blades in an old jar and collected them until it was full. You can also wrap a single blade in a flap of duct tape or stick them in the edge of a piece of cardboard. But don’t just drop sharp metal loose in your garbage or recycling!
How to dispose of spray cans: If your spray paint cans are not empty they need to be disposed of in your local hazardous waste collection like other hazardous paints. But did you know, that empty spray cans may be recycled in some cities? Check with your local recycling facility to find out. To make sure your spray cans are empty, spray them until no more paint or air comes out. Empty spray cans should not make any sound at all when you push the top. The plastic cap should be recycled separately.
How to dispose of glitter: You can’t. It will invade your home no matter what you do. Even if you never open the container you will find it on your hands and clothes and on the floor until the end of time. Glitter is the worst.
Ok friends, tell me, what was the most interesting thing you learned here? Is there anything I didn’t cover? Go forth and declutter your craft stash responsibly!
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…
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