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Smiling child holding up a "robot" she made out of recyclable lunch box items

Recycle What’s In Your Lunchbox!

By Brenda Ponnay

I know most of us are trying to cut down on disposable packaging when we send our kids off to school with packed lunches these days but sometimes packaging happens. Plastic cups, juice boxes, baggies, lids…it adds up after a while. You could recycle it at the curb OR you could save yourself a bazillion dollars at the craft store and make things with it! Put down those packaged crafting kits and put on your creative thinking caps instead! It’s amazing what you can build with some recycled parts, silver spray paint and a few handy tools.

a child excitedly holding up a juice box monster she made with sharpies, googly eyes and pipe cleaner

How we turned lunchbox items into fun kids’ crafts:

For this craft, I set up stations. All of the stations needed to be manned by an adult since they involved spray paint, hot glue and sharp tools but that did not hamper the kid creativity. The little crafters went from station to station with all kinds of great ideas about what they wanted to make.

"pick your parts" written with marker on the flap of a cardboard box filled with recyclable lunch box items

First we had a box of parts: boxes, bottles, lids and more. I just threw it all in a box and labeled it “Pick Your Parts.” It was really fun to watch the kids rifle through the box and plot out what kind of creature they would make.

"Spray booth" written in sharpie on a cardboard box used for spray painting items inside

The second station was the “Spray Booth” which was just a cardboard box set away from the crafting area so I could spray paint anything anybody wanted silver without worrying about fumes or paint getting on anyone.

plastic cups filled with various items, like buttons, string, beads, googly eyes, for decorating recycled items

Next I set up a station of bits and bobs for decorating our recycled creatures. We made aliens and robots, so buttons, googly eyeballs, chenille stems and beads worked great. I even bought a box of earplugs at the hardware store that really sparked some creativity.

A woman in a pink shirt using a hot glue gun to put glue around the rim of a plastic cup being held by a child

I set myself up as the Glue Technician and Official Sharp-Tool Operator. If any of the kids wanted anything attached or cut apart, they brought it to me and showed me what they wanted glued to what or what cut where.

A young boy showing off his recycled creation, a robot made from a juice box and decorated with buttons, pipe cleaner and googly eyes

Even my friend’s two-year-old was really into it, showing me pointedly where he wanted buttons glued on his raisin-box robot. It was the sweetest!

robots and aliens made from recyclable lunch box items displayed on a kitchen table

We had so much fun making all sorts of robots and aliens.

two girls playing with their recycled crafts made from recyclable lunch box items

And then we played with them of course!

Find More Back-to-School Ideas from Alpha Mom:

  1. Printable Lunchbox Jokes
  2. Lunchbox Napkins for Back-to-School
  3. First Day of School Photos
About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of card...

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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Oooh Isabelle would love this. We just need spray paint.


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[…] for items for your kids to use for crafts? Look no further than their lunchbox! Alpha Mom has such a cute idea (eco-friendly too) for re-using many plastics and other items that would […]


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