We all use it: Toilet paper, that is. And eventually, you get to the end of the roll and are left with that pesky tube. Some just toss it in the trash, while others — those a little more eco-conscious, maybe – recycle them. But in the age of global warming and hipster environmentalism, upcycling is the word of the day.
So let’s make something of this, shall we? A creative mind can come up with all sorts of uses for the little cardboard tubes. But here are a few suggestions to get you started.
The most obvious craft for the tykes are binoculars. This can be a simple or elaborate project, depending on the attention span of your little one and the availability of crafty items around your house. The idea is to use stuff you already have laying around, so look under beds and in drawers for stray beads, gem stones, pipe cleaners and so on.
Again, the simplest binoculars would consist of two toilet paper rolls taped together or connected with a strip cut from another roll. That’s pretty much it.
The more crafty approach involves painting or coloring the tubes with markers, and gluing on knobs, beads and other nutty stuff. The imagination is the only limit here. Let the little ones go bonkers with some household glue and various trinkets. The results may surprise you. For longer binocs, use paper towel rolls.
For those of you with mini-green thumbs running around your homestead, biodegradable planters may be the way to go. Cut several toilet paper rolls in half, arrange them in a plastic tray and fill them almost to the top with potting soil and some dirt from your garden. You can also use full rolls, if you need a longer root base for the seeds you plant.
Care for the seedlings as you would any other, and when they are ready for transplanting into your garden, simply lift the tubes out of the container, dig a suitable hole and insert the entire tube. The paper will break down over time as the roots burst through. What could be easier?
Various animals — simple and complex — can be crafted as well. For an owl, simply fold in the tops on opposing sides to make the ears and draw little owl faces and features with a black or brown marker.
For the more ambitious, you can glue on googly eyes, add paper wings and pipe-cleaner legs for any number of creatures. Connect several tubes — toilet paper or paper towel rolls — together for a long and slithery snake. Again, the imagination is the only limiting factor here. Go crazy. What’s the worst that can happen? A few end up in the recycling bin while you create the perfect toilet paper roll beast.
Sci-fi fans can go to town with empty toilet paper rolls, crafting rocket ships and entire futuristic cities. Rockets can include flames trailing through the bottom of tube, various tail fins and cone tops.
The future planet can involve paper towel towers and castles, shorter houses made of TP rolls, trees and other weird plants cut from the rolls, tubular transport systems (i.e. Habitrails for aliens). The more creative, the better. Help spark your young one’s imagination by showing them kid-friendly sci-fi films, wondering what their futuristic civilization might be like.
There really is no limit to what you can do with a leftover toilet paper and paper towel rolls. You could throw a handful in front of any child and, with little urging, they will show you a few things about upcycling. Let them go wild.