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[poll id=”139″] The Ultimate Reuse Challenge called on the Earth911 staff to come up with creative ways to reuse common and hard-to-recycle plastics.

Over the past three weeks, we have featured the top designs.

Readers can vote for their favorite design, and the winning designer will get a donation to his or her favorite charity.

Here are the projects:

CD Case Bird Feeder

Matt Saling – Graphic Designer

How to make it

Considering Matt’s role here at Earth911, we had some pretty high expectations for his reuse project, and he didn’t disappoint.

His main goal in creating this project was to only use the CD case and glue.

“I was happy with how fast it was to make, it wasn’t long and complicated,” he says. “I am happy the simplicity, ease and accuracy of my birdhouse. Anyone could do it.”

Yoga Mat Wall Decals

Jennifer Berry – Manager of Public and Strategic Relations

How to make it

Jennifer’s inspiration for her wall decals came from an artist’s usage of the material as stencil for a painting.

“I liked the idea of cutting out shapes,” Jennifer says. “Then I thought about how popular wall decals have become lately, but I think they’re overpriced.”

“I really like birds. So, I decided that I would find bird silhouettes to trace. I also like the idea of taking something that is normally on the floor and putting it on your wall,” she adds.

Drink Straw Lamp Shade

Matthew Kohlbeck – End-User Support Manager

How to make it

Drinking straws’ small size and light weight make them harder to recycle. But as an artist, craft lover and former architecture student, Matthew was up to the challenge.

“My family is really into projects,” Matthew says. “We save and reuse everything we can and use items for cool projects. In fact, every gift I give my wife, I usually make it.”

Matthew’s shade was made as a way to revamp an old lamp instead of spending money a new one.

Candy wrapper BMX pegs

Dave Benjamin – Software Architect

How to make it

Dave admits that he was bummed about getting candy wrappers for his project as he just felt uninspired, calling them the “definition of trash.”

But after a little research for inspiration, Dave decided to apply this project to his own outside hobby of restoring an old bike.

“I was already kind of replacing and repainting things, and a common theme with candy wrappers was reusing them as pattern or as wallpaper,” he says. “So that was perfect for recovering the pegs.”

Plastic bag kite

Tony Ash – Director of Operations

How to make it

Plastic bags are commonly not accepted in curbside programs due to their light weight. However, their durability and ability to hold up to 2,000 times their own weight make them ideal for projects.

“There are plenty creative reuse ideas for plastic bags, involving turning them into a type of fabric either by weaving or using a heat source to laminate them,” Tony says. “However, I lack sewing skills and didn’t have time to weave, so I did something a little different.”

Detergent bottle lacrosse stick

Stacy Boehme – Office Assistant

How to make it

Plastic #2 is translucent and relatively stiff. These properties create a strong barrier, are suitable for high temperatures, and the material is virtually crack-resistant.

At first, Stacy was not excited at all about this project. But she succumbed to peer pressure. “OK, I really did end up having fun, and it was a cool team-building exercise,” she admitted.

When thinking of her project, Stacy wanted to do something that could be used outdoors for fun.

Milk jug luminary

Lori Brown – Executive Assistant, Writer

How to make it

When Lori was assigned milk jugs, she was relieved. Out of all the plastics, Lori thought the milk jug material was the easiest to work with.

In search for originality, Lori found a design template on Better Homes & Gardens for a luminary that sparked an idea of incorporating humor and Halloween (her favorite holiday) into one project.

“I wanted to do something quirky that could be used as decoration,” she says.

Bottle cap abacus

Larry Cummings – Director of Recycling Program Services

How to make it

Larry called on his 6-year-old son, David, his wife Laura and his neighbors to collect as many bottle caps as possible. He then brought the caps to work, dumped them on his desk and started brainstorming.

“The shape of the caps reminded me of an abacus,” Larry explains. “I have always been fascinated by counting machines, and I work a lot with numbers here at work.”

You don’t have to be a master craftsman if you have the right materials for this project. The hardest part is actually learning how to use the abacus!

Gift card Rolodex

Trey Granger – Operations Assistant, Writer

How to make it

Trey’s idea came from his fascination with building a house of cards. Since gift cards are the same size, Trey wanted to learn to make a house of cards and somehow incorporate that design into something practical.

“We get business cards all the time and have no way of filing them,” Trey says. “They’re in an unorganized stack. But this project gives you order so that you can access them easier.”

See the full designs and more photos
Ultimate Reuse Challenge: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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  1. i liked a couple of the projects and some were really impractical or already are recycled curbside.the birdfeeder won’t last because the pigeons and squirells will knock it down and you’ll get sprouts.

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