5 reuse hacks to turn waste into kid-friendly entertainment

With some thanks to Craig Reucassel, Australian families are embracing the #waronwaste and are doing their bit to avoid, reduce, re-use and recycle. We’re always looking for clever hacks and ideas to give everyday items that would normally make their way into the bin, a new lease on life.

Look no further for today’s ideas, here are five items you might find yourself throwing away that can be reused in a clever way to reduce waste, save you money, and entertain your kids:

5 ways to turn waste into kid’s entertainment


Did you know that if you thoroughly handwash ’disposable’ swim nappies, you can use them again? That’s right! You may not want to do this where a ‘number 2’ has been involved, but if the nappy is just wet – take it home, give it a wash, and it’s good for a few uses. At around $15 a packet, this little hack can save you, and the environment big over the summer months.

If you want to avoid the waste of using disposable swimmer nappies altogether, there are some great reusable, cloth swim nappies available that will pay for themselves in no time – and look super cute! They come in one size that can be used from 5kg – 20kg, adjusted with buttons or Velcro, and easily machine washable.


Need a quick activity for the kids? Before you pop your cardboard cereal or biscuit boxes in the recycling, repurpose them into a jigsaw puzzle. You can use any thick, cardboard packaging with a picture on it – just cut it into squares or shapes that connect together and put your little one to work reassembling.

You can make the puzzle as easy or hard as you want by varying the number and shape of the pieces. Or, if your little one is old enough for scissors, you can even get them to make one themselves for you to try.


Got an old pastry or paint brush whose bristles have gone awry?  Give it a new life in sand or water play. In the sandbox, hide some bottle tops, plastic toy animals, rocks or shells and watch your little one transform into a budding archaeologist as they use the brush to carefully search for buried ‘fossils’. Just try to remember how many things you hid so you know if they’ve found them all!

If you’d prefer to keep your little one out of the sand, set them up outside with a small bucket of water and their brush and let them paint water pictures on the pavement or decking.


Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own chickens roaming around at home, chances are you’ll accumulate an empty egg carton every week or two. There are so many ways you can reuse these, but a favourite around here is to use it as a paint tray.

Each egg nest holds just the right amount of paint, you can choose up to twelve colours (and they don’t mix!) and the carton is nice and stable. You can even use it over and over again – just let the leftover paint dry and refill with matching colours next time you paint.


While using washable cloth wipes is a great option to reduce waste, occasionally you might find yourself with an empty disposable wipes container. These plastic boxes can be reused in a couple of fun ways so they don’t go to waste. Try putting 5 or 6 items of different textures and shapes inside the box and then get your little one to reach in through the lid and guess what they’re holding before they pull it out (just make sure each item is small enough to fit through the wipe dispenser hole in the lid). You can take turns to see who can guess the most correctly.

Alternatively, if your bub enjoys emptying a wipes container as much most kids do, try filling it with inter-folded pieces of coloured fabric which they can empty again and again! Happy days!

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Melissa Sellen

Mel holds a Master of Environmental Education and has worked as an educator for Planet Ark and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, as well as State and Local Government. She has sat on the Executive of the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) NSW Chapter for the past 7 years and helped write the latest NSW Framework for Environmental Education. Mel is a mum to two lovely world-changers under 5 who help her put all her ideas into practice!

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