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Recycling Old CDs

When CDs first came out (remember that?), we all thought they were practically indestructible. Not like records (whichwhichwhichwhich got scrascrascratched) or tapes (which tangled and snagged)… But CDs do get scratched and unreadable. And you do get CDs filled with old files that you no longer need, or even CDs that are out of date or contain music that you now can’t stand. Or else your conscience has got the better of you and you’ve decided to get rid of pirated music you’ve burned onto CD. Just chuck it in the rubbish, right? Well, no. You can recycle old CDs and do it creatively. Pick up a CD and hold it in the light. Look at it with a child’s eye or an artist’s eye (or even a jackdaw’s). At times, it’s silvery and almost mirror like. At other angles, it’s iridescent. It’s made of lightish plastic that can be cut with a stout craft knife or a small saw, it can be drilled easily and epoxy and hot melt glue both stick to it very well…

These days, using recycled materials as a fashion statement is becoming more and more common. And old CDs have a lot of potential for craft and for fashionable accessories.

Some of the ideas in this article have been adapted from a child’s craft book. However, these handcrafts aren’t just for children, as we all know.

Mirror balls. Whether you want one for mood lighting or for a disco party, you can make your own with old CDs. First of all, you will need a ball of some description – a ball of (hopefully recycled) polystyrene is best, but any ball that can take glue (epoxy or hot melt) will do. You will also need to be able to attach a wire securely to the ball so you can hang it up when you’re finished. Cut your old CDs up into pieces (don’t try and stick them on whole) and glue them all over the ball. Let the glue set. These are even better, in some ways, than the old mirror balls, as old CDS can cast a rainbow effect.

Jewellery. CDs resemble mother-of-pearl somewhat, and are easier to obtain and to work. Cut them up and make them into necklaces, earrings, bracelets and keyrings. As long as you have a sturdy enough knife, a drill to make fine holes in them and something to thread them on (bead shops and craft shops are a good place to source things such as earring fittings, clasps and keyrings, plus things like leather thongs and chains. The only limit here is the number of old CDs you want to reuse and your imagination. Using whole CDs as feature elements on a rather glitzy belt might be a bit over the top – but why not? It’s not me, but it might be you – or your teenager. How about cutting some into small circles (tricky – might need a jig-saw – the tool, not the puzzle – for this one) and making buttons or sequins? If you’ve tried belly-dancing, how about decorating a coin belt or other parts of a costume with pieces of CDs? How about completely covering a shirt with old CDs for a fancy dress party?

Even if you’re not into glittery jewellery or disco mirror balls, you can find a use for old CDs in your garden. Remember the old technique of keeping birds away from a seed bed or from a fruit tree by hanging up bits of aluminium foil (such as milk bottle tops) on string? CDs, either whole or in pieces, can be put to this sort of use. Old CDs have one big advantage over bits of aluminium, as they are more durable and don’t tear off as easily as flimsy aluminium bits do.

Old CDs can also be cut into pieces (shaped, if you like) and made into a mobile to hang above a baby’s crib. You could also incorporate them into a wind-chime, either as glittery elements or as things that strike little bells or tubes (see – the CDs are still good for playing music!).

Old CDs can be used whole or in pieces as Christmas tree decorations. Either use them “as is” or decorate them further. With the use of a jig-saw, CDs can be cut into shapes (stars, flowers, etc) and used in scrapbooking. Small squares or slivers of CDs can be glued onto a picture frame in a mosaic effect.

If you’re really good with your hands, you could even use pieces of old CDs as decorative insets in woodwork. If you can do it with mother of pearl or shell, you can do it with old CDs.

Nick Vassilev founded Anyclean, his London based domestic cleaning company, back in 1998. Nick is an expert on cleaning and loves to help people with his cleaning tips, articles and knowledge. If you would like to know more about his cleaning company, please visit