Your can of Dr. Pepper may be the perfect sidekick to your afternoon snack, but the 75 cents you paid at the vending machine may be more valuable than you think.
When recycled, that can produces enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours. Even more interesting, because aluminum is a durable and sustainable metal, two-thirds of the aluminum ever produced is still in use today.
While more than 50 percent of aluminum cans produced is recycled, we always love a good reuse project. So think before you throw, and put your creative bug to work.
1. Keep Your Pants On
Don’t spend $20 on a retro belt when you can make it yourself. Budget Living Magazine uses soda can tabs to make a fashionable, trendy belt. At first glance, the tabs form an expensive-looking, chain-like material.
All you’ll need for this project is everyday tabs and string. Once you get into the rhythm of stringing together the tabs, the whole project will take about an hour.
What You’ll Need: Soda can tabs (100+), nylon or satin cord
2. Take It to the Bank
Literally put your can back into your wallet. Instructables explains how to create an RFID-proof soda can wallet out of two cans and some packaging tape. Watch out for sharp edges, and don’t forget to wash the sticky residue off your can.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum cans (2), scissors, packaging tape/duct tape, felt-tip pen, sandpaper
While the wallet chain may not be your style, we still thought it was a super-easy and creative idea using soda can tabs. You’ll need to drink a lot of pop for this one – at least 132 cans, depending on the length of your chain. Instructables suggests visiting a local recycling center if you want to skip the obscene amount of soda ingestion.
What You’ll Need: Soda can tabs (132-152), heavy-duty wire cutters, key rings (1-2)
3. The Heat is On
Those attempting this project should use extreme caution. The video below shows how to create a fully functioning stove from two aluminum cans. While the project may sound complicated, the materials needed are basic and can be found in the average household. Bonus: The stove’s portability makes it ideal for your next camping trip. And forget that hot plate – this stove’s small size fits into the tiniest of studio apartments.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum cans (2), high-temperature tape, push pins or drill, marking pin, scissors, ruler, utility knife, OPTIONAL: rubber bands, sandpaper, metal file
4. Holiday Time
So, you’ve finally climbed up to the attic and dusted off the box of holiday decorations, only to find that your ceramic Santa smashed some of your favorite glass ornaments. Instead of spending time and money on new ornaments, simply make a trip to your recycling bin. Little House in the Suburbs suggests creating original ornaments from aluminum cans.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum cans, scissors, sandpaper, pen or pencil, ribbon or cord
After you’ve trimmed the tree, the holidays aren’t in full-swing without some sweet treats. Don’t go on an impossible treasure hunt for that perfect poinsettia-shaped cookie cutter – just make your own! Ehow explains how to create the perfect holiday cookie cutter from aluminum cans.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum can, scissors, pencil, pliers, stapler and staples, cardboard
5. A Girl’s Best Friend
OK, so this isn’t a how-to guide for making your own diamonds (we wish!), but aluminum is a perfect material for stylish earrings. While the construction is easy, an artistic eye comes in handy on this one. Use acrylic paint to customize your earrings for that hard-to-match purple cardigan or your black dress that needs a colorful touch.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum cans, kitchen shears, jump rings, earring hooks, acrylic paints, finish varnish
6. Tote Bag With Flair
This project will require some sewing, crocheting and patience, but the pop can purse is something you can definitely brag about.
A sturdy material, this purse can be used for everyday errands or lugging around heavy groceries. If you’re not an avid crotcheter, it may be helpful to pick up a how-to book. There is also a variation of this bag that incorporates T-shirts and bamboo.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum cans (10), scissors, paper hole-punch, sport-weight yarn, size “H” crochet hook, sturdy fabric (such as denim), sewing machine
7. This Little Light of Mine
Tea light candles create a cozy ambiance for any occasion, from dinner parties to cuddling up with your favorite novel. Add a special touch to your lighting with a lantern and tea light holder made from aluminum cans. While the holder’s design looks complicated, it’s a simple project that requires a steady hand and a couple of craft tools. The design calls for splicing the cans with sharpened blades, so be extra careful.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum cans (2), wire (30 cm.), cutter, small pliers, screwdriver, piercing tool, black marker, dish cloth, basin, tea lights
8. Get Organized
Don’t use that “World’s Best Boss” coffee mug for your pens and pencils. Choose a colorful, empty aluminum can to make a creative pen holder. Cover the can with construction paper and add personal designs with markers, paints or other craft materials to “jazz it up.” Since the average soda can is lightweight, try adding a magnet or gluing a flat piece of wood to keep the holder upright when packed full of pens.
What You’ll Need: Aluminum can, can opener, hammer, weighted material (such as a magnet) OPTIONAL: markers, paint, construction paper, scissors, glue
Raquel Fagan contributed to this article.