You may be inclined to toss toilet paper rolls in the recycling heap, but these humble cardboard tubes have a surprising number of applications. And cutting down on household waste while letting your creative juices flow is always a worthwhile endeavor!
Here are 37 ways that kids and adults can put cardboard toilet paper rolls to good use.
1. Recycled Butterfly Oasis – attract a multitude of beautiful and bright butterflies to your garden with something made entirely from recycled household objects! In addition to toilet paper rolls, you’ll need straws, pipe cleaners, colored plastic bottle caps, and yarn.
2. Electrical Cord Holder – sort out your drawer full of entangled electrical cords with this easy craft. Just neatly coil your cord and place it inside an empty tube. Add some colored tape and a label to transform dull gray cardboard into something that’s both pretty and functional.
3. Easy Bird Feeders – for a quick and easy eco-friendly bird feeder to bring all manner of feathered friends to your yard, just smear empty rolls with peanut butter, roll in birdseed and slide onto a branch.
4. Cardboard Flowers – these decorative flowers would look great in a crafting room or home office, especially when added to a simple mason jar. All you need are scissors, a glue gun, buttons, cardboard rolls, and pages from an old book.
5. Marbles Game – this fun game is sure to keep children entertained for hours, especially on rainy days indoors.
6. Party Lanterns – although these impressive looking lanterns have a distinctly festive theme, they can be decorated to suit any type of holiday or special occasion – just choose paint and glitter in colors that suit the occasion.
7. Napkin Holders – these beautiful burlap-covered napkin holders are made from toilet paper rolls, ribbon, and tiny natural charms like mini pine cones, acorns, and pumpkins. They’re sure to lend a rustic look to any dinner table.
8. Santa Decorations – this fun Christmas craft will be a hit with younger children. In fact, these look so good that no one will be able to tell they were made from paper tubes!
9. Wall Art – the ways to use cardboard tubes in wall art are seemingly endless, but this leaf and flower mural is particularly impressive as it is so versatile, and can be shaped to suit any wall or room. The five-minute video takes you through the entire process step-by-step.
10. Easter Bunny Candy Holder – rather than putting your child’s Easter candy in a wasteful plastic egg, consider making this recycled Easter bunny candy holder instead for an eco-friendly alternative. It will also make a fantastic and thoughtful keepsake.
11. Seed Starters – making DIY seed holders and starting your seeds indoors is cheaper than buying starter plants. Nurture your seeds the eco-friendly way with these sustainable planting cups fashioned out of old toilet paper rolls. They break down into compost which is perfect for cultivating healthy organic plants.
12. Glitter Poinsettia Ornament – create everlasting Poinsettia plants – which won’t prove toxic to your pets – with this fun craft made out of toilet paper tubes, dried beans, glitter, paint, and glue.
13. Pin Cushion – this beautiful flower pin-cushion looks store-bought, yet is made with cardboard, scrap fabric, and a few other odds and ends. It’s sure to brighten up any crafting corner or sewer’s workshop.
14. Duct Tape Cuff Bracelet – create disposable jewelry to go with every look you have with these funky wrist cuffs. They make ideal play jewelry for little ones too.
15. No Sew Eyeglass Case – forget buying expensive cases for your eyewear, when you can make one of these. They’re so easy, you can even make several in different styles! All you require is a paper roll, fabric, and some glue.
16. Coasters – these unique and eco-friendly coasters are good for your tabletops and your wallet. So simple to make, the tutorial doesn’t even require words – just step-by-step images!
17. Faux Iron Gate Décor – if you need a faux iron gate for a play or drama, to help your kids enter the world of make-believe, or as an unusual and thrifty piece of wall art, then look no further. Sure, it requires a lot of cardboard tubes, some time, and an entire can of spray paint, but the results are worth it!
18. Scarf Organizer – scarf lovers can keep their collection under control by fashioning this simple and functional organizer from a clothes hanger and several cardboard loops.
19. Mini Photo Album – this clever design is a great way to keep your precious memories together without spending a cent, or contributing to environmental waste. To make this, you will need chipboard, loose notebook rings, embellishments, and patterned paper, ribbons, stickers, buttons etc. for decorating.
20. Fire Starters – get your campfire blazing with one of these eco-friendly fire starters. They take just minutes to throw together, and are an ingenious way to use up old laundry lint!
21. Lamp Shade – this easy and fun project leaves you with a stunning end product, as you shape pieces of cardboard roll, glue them together, and paint them in a striking black gloss.
22. Ribbon / Lace Spool – make a simple spool shape from cardboard and adorn it with all manner of embellishments for a cute and fun ribbon holder that will look right at home with all your other crafting supplies.
23. Sequin Sunburst Mirror Frame – it’s hard to believe this beautiful sequined mirror is made from toilet paper tubes, glue, sequins, and a mirror you find at a thrift store – but it is!
24. Flower Party Favors – these sweet party favors see beautiful paper flowers set in colored tubes, and filled with delicious candy surprises. Ideal for garden parties, birthday parties, weddings, and more.
25. 4th of July Confetti Popper Rockets – have your fireworks indoors with these confetti popper rockets. Explosive, yet completely safe and super fun, these Independence Day crafts mean you’ll need your vacuum cleaner at the ready!
26. Heart Stamp – a sweet and simple craft for kids (or adults) which sees a toilet tube shaped into a heart stamp. Use it to adorn letters, photo albums, notes, lists, and more.
27. Candle Holder – cover up faux or LED candles and soften their glow with one of these clever handmade holders. (Just make sure you never use these cardboard creations next to a real flame or you could be asking for trouble!)
28. Trick-or-Treat Boxes – put toilet paper rolls to good use as favor boxes for special occasions and parties. They also make fantastic trick-or-treat handouts, as you can see from this bewitching craft!
29. Faux Metal Photo Frame – fashioning a faux metal filigree frame from toilet paper tubes is a great way to showcase some of your favorite framed photos without breaking the bank.
30. Wind Sock – these toilet paper roll Koinobori, or Japanese Flying Carp Fish, wind socks are so pretty and colorful. They’re a fantastic summer activity for kids.
31. Countdown Calendar – a cleverly designed countdown calendar – which also makes a great advent calendar – is the perfect way to countdown to your favorite event. Small trinkets or candies inside the tubes can help motivate and excite!
32. Gift Box – given that annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons in the US alone, making this fun craft can help you cut down on your contribution to this figure. It’s just the right size to wrap jewelry, gift cards, a wallet, and other fun-sized presents.
33. Kids’ Tea Cup Set – fashion tiny recyclable tea cups from toilet paper tubes, and sit them on mini cardboard saucers for an adorable tea set to help the children play make-believe.
34. Kids’ Racing Cars – making these little race cars will provide just as much enjoyment as playing with them will! Craft several and paint them in different colors for a fantastic and free bedroom display set.
35. Desk Organizer – store your pens, pencils, erasers, paper clips, staples, and a whole host of other office stationery in this elegant and perfectly coordinated desk tidy. To make it, you’ll need cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls, wooden plaques, Mod Podge, acrylic paint, scrapbook paper, and ribbons.
36. Dragon and Princess Puppets – smaller children will be enthralled with their own at-home puppet show, courtesy of these impressive toilet paper roll puppets. Let little imaginations run wild as they transform painted tubes into dragon and princess puppets using just a hole punch, yarn, paint, and sticks.
37. Sidewalk Chalk – use old toilet paper tubes as the mold for toxin-free homemade chalk which is ideal for drawing hopscotch, or simply letting your inner Picasso out. You’ll also need water, plaster of Paris, food coloring, and baking paper.