Turning Plastic Bottles Into Jewelry: How to Handle Plastic At Home (DIY Jellyfish Earring Tutorial)
You’ve been lied to about recycling. You’ve been given the impression that as long as you put plastic in the recycling bin, you’ve done your part for the environment. The truth is that only a fraction of all plastic really gets recycled. The rest of it sits in landfills for hundreds of years, leaking chemicals, suffocating wildlife, and polluting our oceans.
So what do we do?
You love nature and wildlife. You want to do your part to help the planet. The thought of sitting back and doing nothing while every day more plastic finds its way into the trash, into our oceans, into our food is incredulous. There must be something you can do to stop the cycle. But what is it?
You can stop buying it, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid. What about all the plastic you already have – those packages of water bottles you have stored just in case?
How do you know that they’ll be part of the small percentage of items that actually get recycled?
What else is there to do?
When it comes to plastic, you want to:
- Reduce your consumption of it.
- Reuse what you already have.
- Recycle it when it gets to the end of its life.
This is how we establish a more sustainable relationship with plastic.
We are passionate upcyclers here at Upcycle with Jing. So we’re going to focus on the reuse step in the process. Plastic bottles don’t have to just be reused for drinks. There are many fun, creative ways you can reuse plastic to keep it out of landfills. We’ll show you how to repurpose plastic water bottles into something you’ll have for life.
Turn your plastic into a guilt-free, beautiful statement piece of jewelry that you can wear for any occasion. We’ll show you how to make jewelry out of plastic bottles in your home using our DIY jewelry kits.
Why Should We Reuse Plastic?
Plastic is a major problem in our world. We use a lot of it every day – from snack bags to straws to bottled drinks we can take on the go. We use it because it’s convenient. It’s cheap, waterproof, and doesn’t break down easily.1 However, those same qualities are what make it such a problem once it’s in our environment.
In a landfill, plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose.1 It’ll break down into smaller pieces that get into our waterways, the stomachs of our wildlife, and wreak havoc on ecosystems.
Plastic itself isn’t inherently a bad thing. It’s the fact that we produce so much of it and throw so much of it away that’s the real problem. When new products are made, resources and energy are used. When a product is recycled, fewer resources and less energy are needed to make another product. When it’s reused, nothing is expended again to make another product. This saves space in landfills and decreases the demand for new plastic products.2
Although plastic bottles are convenient, they are a huge contributor to global warming and pollution every step of the way from the start of their production.3 We use PET plastic bottles in our jewelry – these are bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate. It was developed in 1941 and was a breakthrough discovery as a material to hold drinks.4 The creation of PET bottles generates toxic emissions and uses a lot of fossil fuel.5&6 If you think about how many of these bottles are only used once and then tossed, doesn’t that seem incredibly wasteful?
Does Recycling Work?
Why doesn’t plastic get recycled properly?
The truth is that the recycling systems aren’t strong enough to handle all of the plastic that is produced, bought, and tossed each year. This can be caused by things like improper handling or a bad return on investment.7 For example, when things aren’t recycled properly, sorting centers end up “contaminated” with non-recyclable items. This makes it harder to sort and provide high-quality recyclable materials that a company will buy and reuse.8
Most plastic – around 80% – ends up in landfills.9 According to National Geographic, “more than a million plastic bottles are sold every single minute” around the globe.4 Plastic bottles are also usually some of the most common items found on beaches in over a hundred countries, according to the Ocean Conservancy.4
When it comes to things like metal or glass, they tend to have a much longer lifespan before getting recycled than plastic does. Most plastic gets tossed less than a year after it was bought.9
Let’s break that cycle. Instead of buying plastic that will end up in the trash soon after and will sit in a landfill for hundreds of years, why not turn it into something you’ll have for life?
How To Repurpose Plastic
All of the qualities that plastic has that make it a problem for wildlife are qualities that also make it great for repurposing. For example, we can reuse plastic to help build ships because it’s waterproof or we can use it to make clothing that’s stretchy, durable, and water-resistant.2&10
That’s the foundation of our business: to get used plastic out of our environment and turn it into something else. We make our jewelry from recycled PET plastic bottles because we want you to have something that makes you feel beautiful and makes the world a better place. Now you can do it, too, with the plastic sitting around your home.
Our DIY jewelry kits help you recycle plastic bottles into something amazing.
You’re ready to lead the way with an eco-friendly lifestyle. This is a perfect way for you to fully embrace your creativity and repurpose all the plastic you have. No more guilt when you look at it or toss it in the recycling bin and hope for the best.
So if you’ve ever asked yourself, how can I reuse plastic bottles? We have your answer.
Take things into your own hands and design your own luxury jewelry from home.
We have several DIY kits for you to choose from, depending on your style:
- Necklace Kit – makes two necklaces
- Earrings & Necklace Kit – makes four pairs of earrings and one necklace
- Earrings Kit – makes four pairs of earrings
All come with detailed instructions and supplies. Buy your kit here and get ready to make your first pair of jellyfish earrings with our tutorial below!
Make Your Own Jellyfish Earrings Out of Plastic Bottles – Tutorial
Now you can make your own beautiful plastic jewelry at home. Try your hand at making a pair of our jellyfish earrings!
- Clean PET plastic bottle
- 1.5–2 mm hole puncher
- Round nose pliers
- Candle & matches or a lighter
- Scissors (recommend Fiskar’s small scissors)
- Eye pins (two)
- Earring hooks (two)
- Beads (two)
- Cut the top and bottom pieces off the bottle. You can start with a knife to pierce the bottle and then use scissors to cut both sections off. You’re left with the center tube of the bottle.
- Cut down the middle of the tube so you end up with two equal pieces of the bottle.
- With each piece, cut across at the thinner part of the bottle so you end up with a larger piece and a shorter piece.
- Cut off what is left of the thinner part of the bottle from the smaller piece.
Cut off a rectangular piece from the larger and smaller pieces you have. You should have four pieces in total. Two longer rectangles and two smaller ones.
On the longer rectangles, cut small strips into the plastic, stopping about a centimeter from the top. These will be your jellyfish tentacles.
Cut a circular piece from each of the smaller plastic pieces. These will be your jellyfish bodies. Pierce the center of each with your hole puncher.
- Light your candle, pull out each strand of your jellyfish tentacles and hover them quickly over the candle. Bend them into a wavy shape.
Next, we’re going to work on the opposite end of this same piece. Warm up the top edge of the plastic, where you didn’t cut, and roll it tightly into itself from left to right. Repeat the process of warming the plastic and then rolling it. It should look like this at the end:
- Hover the tentacles over the flame again to get them into the shape you like and curl the ends.
Take the jellyfish body piece next and run the edge over the flame to heat it and use your fingers to curl it under. This will also give the body some shape.
- Take your eye pin and slide one bead down to the end. Push it up through the tentacles and out through the top. Slide the top of the jellyfish onto the eye pin on top of the tentacles.
- Use your round nose pliers to create a loop at the end of the eye pin. Attach the earring hook on the loop and then use your pliers again to close it.
You’re done! You’ve made a gorgeous pair of jellyfish earrings out of a plastic bottle! How amazing does it feel to do something creative and beneficial for the environment?
Watch the tutorial video here: