Get creative with holiday wreath-cycling project

December 8, 2013 

Here is an example of a wreath-cycling project made by students visiting the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.


Looking for new, creative ways to decorate during the holiday season? How about creating something personal and environmentally friendly that will barely crack open your wallet?

Recycled-material crafts make a fun family project and give a second life to otherwise discarded objects. The goal is to flex your “green” imagination to make original recycled wreaths through “wreath-cycling.”

This activity, inspired by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, challenges you to make beautiful and interesting wreaths out of reused and fully recyclable materials. The idea is to keep the project as waste-free as possible, so the entire wreath can be dismantled at the end of the holiday season and recycled into new goods.

Here are the basic materials you will need to make your own recycled wreath at home:

A wire wreath frame, available at most craft stores, or reused from an old wreath you might have hiding in storage.

Hot glue gun and glue sticks.

Markers and/or crayons.

Jute twine, available at arts and crafts stores and big-box home supply stores. Jute is made from plant fibers and is biodegradable.

Heavy-duty craft scissors.

Washed items that can be placed in recycle bins for curbside pick-up, such as the following:

 • Plastic and/or paper grocery bags

 • Plastic water, juice, shampoo or soda bottles

 • Plastic jars from peanut butter, jam, pickles, etc.

 • Plastic tubs from yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.

 • Paper/cardboard-based egg cartons

 • Paper/cardboard cereal, cookie, toothpaste or cracker boxes (without the liner)

 • Clean aluminum foil

 • Clean aluminum and tin cans

 • Clean newspaper, junk mail and magazines

 • Shredded paper strips

 • Paper (nonmetallic) gift wrap

 • Paper towel/toilet paper rolls

To get started, spread out your collected materials. Sorting them will reveal a variety of shapes, colors, forms and textures to trigger your imagination. You might want to work with a theme. Winter scenery, favorite animals, miniature habitat, wishes and goals for the coming year, sports and outdoor recreation activities, all things sparkly, your favorite colors or family stories. Find something that inspires you and get creative.

You can leave the frame base bare or wrap it with newspaper, plastic grocery bags, jute twine or other material. Now, get ready to give it your personal style.

Color and cut paper grocery bags, junk mail and dry-goods boxes into stars, animals, human figures, hearts and other shapes. Use advertising text and images to piece together your own messages. Cut bottoms off water bottles for clear bowl shapes; cut bottles lengthwise into carrot shapes for icicles. Pile up shredded paper for little bird nests or flower bursts. Twist scraps of old gift wrap tightly like licorice vines to bend and tie into various forms. Add shine with strips of aluminum foil and shapes cut from soda cans.

If you really want to test your paper skills, use origami techniques to fold scraps into cranes, butterflies, frogs, fish, lotus flowers and seemingly endless other characters. Make squid or octopuses out of toilet paper tubes. First, color the tubes with markers or crayons. Then, to form arms, cut one end of the tube lengthwise into fringe-style strips and curl the strips outward. Draw or glue eyes and camouflage spots to finish. Finally, glue or tie your shapes and figures to the frame to assemble the wreath.

Get involved

 • See examples of wreaths created by Chicago-area students. sheddaquarium. org/4570.html

 • Join others in making wreaths at the Arctic Animal Conservation Celebration at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Saturday.

 • Visit the Point Defiance Zoo Facebook page to see pictures of wreaths made by zoo visitors and volunteers as well as students at Tacoma Public Schools’ Science and Math Institute. https://www.

 • View completed wreaths on display in the zoo’s upper North Pacific Aquarium through Dec. 31 and vote for your favorite.

Holiday cleanup

Girl Scouts of Western Washington and Metro Parks Tacoma are teaming up again to offer free recycling of used or unwanted holiday light strings. For drop off locations, visit -recycling-program.

Learn more

To learn more about local recycling, origami techniques, the Arctic Animal Conservation Celebration and see examples of Shedd Aquarium’s winning wreath entries, visit: portalId =169&pageId=14404

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