Looking for low waste crafts for kids? Check out these eco-friendly kids’ crafts books that highlight projects using recycled, repurposed, and recyclable materials. These books include hundreds of simple kids’ crafts projects using materials you probably already have at home and might even find in your recycle bin or trash can. Read on for 12 sustainable kids’ craft books your kids will love.
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With summer in full swing for most of us, lots of kids have plenty of time on their hands. Encourage the youngsters in your life to get creative with materials already around the house. We’ve rounded up some amazing craft books for kids and teens that focus on using recycled materials, materials from nature, or materials that can be composted after creation.
Many of these books use materials like paper and cardboard which can easily be composted after the project is finished, even if they have non-toxic markers, crayon markings, or paint on them. Some of the books use food, and an edible craft project is always magical.
Several recommendations for craft books for teens and tweens encourage them to use thrifted or repurposed materials to make new and novel creations they can wear and share with friends or family.
Skip materials like sequins or glitter if you can. These are made of plastic, can’t be recycled or composted, and pollute our waterways. Even ‘eco-glitter” products that claim to be biodegradable aren’t great because they still contain microplastics that don’t decompose efficiently.
There are so many amazing things already in our recycling bins and headed to the trash cans that make wonderful arts and crafts materials. Encourage your kids to use things you already have at home and give them new life before they end up in a landfill.
A Note On Buying and Borrowing Books
We’ve included affiliate links to each of the books below. If you purchase through one of these links, Raising Global Kidizens earns a very small commission that has no impact on your purchase price.
If you can find the books from your local library, from a friend, at an independent bookstore, or through a used book shop, those sources are ideal. Using the library is zero waste, saves money, and saves space in your home because you can read all the books without storing all the books on your bookshelves. If you’re not sure of the best way to use your local library, check out these tips to make the most of your local library. With a little exposure, your kids will learn to LOVE the library!
If you prefer to listen to audiobooks, we recommend using Libro.fm, our favorite audiobook app. We’ve tried several audiobook apps and love that Libro.fm supports independent bookstores and offers a great user experience.
Low Waste Craft Books For Kids
The following craft books for kids are perfect for older preschool and elementary school students.
This book offers lots of ideas for simple projects using repurposed materials that would otherwise be trash. The ideas are creative and quite easy to execute. Additionally, readers explore information about climate change, protecting the planet, and why it’s so important to make the most of the materials and things we already have. Further, many of the projects themselves have a sustainable purpose, such as the creation of a bee hotel to protect pollinators in our communities.
Vehicles: Create 14 Amazing Cardboard Vehicles by Fiona Hayes
Help your child use their imagination to bring cardboard boxes to life as all sorts of vehicles. From trains and planes to cars and a rocket ship, this book includes instructions for 14 different cardboard vehicle creations.
I Am Not a Cereal Box: 10 Exciting Things to Make with Cereal Boxes by Carlton Publishing Group
This book provides step-by-step instructions for several projects including a robot, an aquarium, a teddy bear car, and a puppet theater. Each cereal box project can be completed within an hour using a repurposed cereal box that would otherwise end up in a recycling bin or trash can. The picture-book style narrative also offers fun anecdotes about each project and creative ways to use each item that your child makes.
Transform paper rolls, egg cartons, newspaper and cardboard into colorful decorations, amazing wearable masks, hats and jewelry or even sturdy desk organizers, puzzles and paint palettes. Other projects include a kaleidoscope, a marble maze, a dinosaur terrarium, and even a cardboard castle.
Fun and Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials: 60 Cool Projects that Reimagine Paper Rolls, Egg Cartons, Jars and More! by Kimberly McLeodLow-Mess Crafts for Kids: 72 Projects to Create Your Own Magical Worlds by Debbie Chapman
This book has a host of projects that are super simple and require really basic craft materials. The projects are not developed specifically around the use of recycled or repurposed materials, but many of them are made of paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, and other paper materials that can be recycled or composted. Additionally, the projects don’t require a big collection of miscellaneous art supplies. This book is full of projects your kids can complete independently with things you probably already have at home.
What’s more fun than playing with your food? Your kids can create these low waste craft projects with food that can be composted (or even eaten, if they haven’t manhandled the food too much while creating) after they are done creating.
Help your kids connect with Mother Nature and see how to protect it too with 150 illustrated and educational nature-friendly projects. There are things to do for every season of the year, crafts that use recycled materials, and activities that encourage youngsters to investigate the natural world. Fantastic color photos capture real children happily working on the projects, and every project mixes fun and learning.
Cardboard Creations: Open-Ended Exploration with Recycled Materials by Barbara Rucci
This book includes 20 different sustainable art projects created with cardboard and other materials you can find in your recycling bin. Each project includes several variations.
Paper Crafts for Kids: 25 Cut-Out Activities for Kids by Stefania Luca
Crafting with just paper and scissors, kids can use their imagination or follow instructions in the book to make all sorts of different crafts with paper. When they are done enjoying them, they can recycle or compost the projects to make space for new projects and prevent the paper from heading to the trash.
The Ocean Craft Book by Clare Beaton
Explore a variety of simple craft projects, most made from recycled and repurposed materials, that encourage kids to connect with the ocean and the many animals who live there. The book includes thirteen different ocean-related projects, including the creation of a coral reef. You can also check out another book in the series, The Nature Craft Book.
Low Waste Craft Books For Teens and Tweens
Tweens and teens may find plenty of creative energy in the books listed above that are great for all ages. They may also enjoy these additional books with more complicated projects that are geared toward a slightly older crowd. Both books offer lots of ways to repurpose t-shirts in a variety of ways. We would have loved to try so many of these as teens and know they can help keep textiles out of our waste stream.
Many t-shirts end up in landfills. This book puts the t-shirt, a common clothing article, front and center with 28 projects to create using everyday t-shirts you no longer need. Many of the projects are great for tweens and teens and are created for a variety of skill levels.
Generation T: Beyond Fashion: 120 New Ways to Transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay
If the previous book didn’t offer enough t-shirt refashion and repurposing projects, this book has over 200 pages of creative ideas to use t-shirts in new ways. Offer this book to your tween or teen along with a few extra t-shirts you no longer need and let them go to town creating new from old.
Do you have any other kids’ crafts books you love? Share them in the comments below so others can check them out!
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About The Author
Jen Panaro, a co-founder of Raising Global Kidizens, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. She’s also a serial library book borrower and a messy gardener.
As a mom to two boys, she is passionate about helping families be more responsible stewards to their communities and the planet. She also owns Honestly Modern, an online space focused on eco-friendly living for modern families.