This project eats a serious amount of plastic from your recycling bin!
Preventing all that plastic from entering our environment is really important. Plastic in landfills breaks down into nanoparticles which make their way into our oceans, our food, and ultimately into our bodies through our food and water supplies.
I currently save about 95% of the plastic that comes into my home and business and I am working out a solution for the remaining 5%. Reducing plastic consumption is hard work. Plastic is everywhere and it is hard to imagine how the world can handle it all. The world cannot handle it and a solution for managing plastic must be found.
Turns out shredded plastic + a bit of upcycled synthetic fiberfill makes a very luxurious throw pillow that is weather-resistant which makes these pillows suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
To do my part, any plastic packaging passing through my home or business is going to be used to make multiple throw pillows. Having a goal makes the job of saving plastic from the landfill fun. Plus most recycling centers now do not accept plastic films and bags.
It would be hard for anyone to guess the fillings in my throw pillows was actually from my recycling bin!
18" X 18" organic waterproof throw pillow insert (purchase here)
Upcycled synthetic fiberfill from old pillows (recommended but optional)
Used plastic bags, films, and packaging materials collected and saved from the landfill
Upcycled white or light-colored sateen sheet or other lightweight fabric that measures larger than 42" X 42".
**Sharpies, fabric markers, or *fabric paints
*I have found using fabric paints can make your pillows feel like they have a plastic / rubbery coating. If using fabric paints try and dilute them according to manufacturer's recommendations and use them sparingly.
**Test sharpies on your fabric first to judge if they will bleed.
By placing a designated bin somewhere in your kitchen you can easily collect enough for this project in a few weeks. The above picture is 2 weeks of plastic we collected. A pillow will easily eat four times this amount!
Instruct all household members the bin is only for CLEAN plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic netting, plastic packagings such as bubble wrap or those air cushioning pods. I don't add noisy plastic films as I did not want noisy pillows. Those will go toward another project.
Some plastics that have food smells permanently absorbed into them are not to be put into the bin. Wrappings off fish and meat for example. Set up an easy way to dry other packages that need a quick washing to make sure they are free from any food residue.
Take a few plastic items into your hand and twist it together into a long tube. It will unravel quickly but that is ok.
With sharp scissors, cut strips off the end of your loose tube of plastic, about 1/2 inch slices.
Do this for all your recycled items.
If you wish to also recycle some old pillows filled with fiberfill, remove the filling and give it a good fluff. Just a little fiberfill added to the shredded plastic helps the pillow re-fluff faster after sitting against it. It is optional but a good way to prevent these old pillows with their fine fiberfill from finding their way into landfills to break down further to end up in the ocean and into our food and ultimately into us and wildlife.
Our waterproof pillow inserts are made from soft organic cotton jersey laminated with natural tree rubber (AKA natural latex).
They can be ordered here on our pillow insert product page.
Fill your case more than you think it can hold. These pillows feel best slightly overfilled. Adding a bit of synthetic fiberfill helps the plastic from compacting.
Please reuse this fiberfill from an old pillow, no need to purchase new fiberfill.
A cover is highly recommended.
You can see some lumps in the pillow from the plastic filling, but not after the cover is on.
The cover makes it easy to wash your pillow covers to keep them looking great.
Most importantly you get to choose the design you want for your pillows. You can make multiple covers for each season or change them up for an inexpensive room refresh!
There are many no-sew throw pillow cover tutorials online there but I find they tend to use way too much fabric and end up making something that ends up potato-shaped, not neat with crisp corners, so I came up with my own version.
My solution was to use a shape that requires a minimum amount of fabric so I could yield the most pillow covers from my fabric.
This pattern is 1/2 of the arrow shape you will need to cut out of your fabric.
Fold your fabric in half and lay this pattern with the bottom edge along the fold or trace it into the complete arrow shape on a large piece of craft paper so you can save it for future pillows.
Order your FREE DOWNLOAD HERE.
Print your 14-page pdf pattern on standard 8 1/2 X 11 paper (note page 6 is a spacer and does not contain any lines).
Lay your pages out edge to edge in the order shown above.
The lines should line up roughly to give you a general shape to trace, don't worry if the lines do not line up exactly, you will see the shape. Don't overlap your pages simply tape them edge to edge.
You can now cut out your paper shape to trace onto your fabric!
Remember this is only half of the arrow shape for placing on a folded edge of your fabric.
If you want to make an entire paper arrow pattern simply print 2 of the download to create the full arrow shape.
Note the area of the pillow where you can create your own art. Choosing your design is the fun part!
Here is how your no-sew pillow cover goes on:
Place your large, arrow-shaped fabric cut out art side facing down.
Place your filled cushion as shown. Fold the lower flap up.
Next, fold the point of the arrow down.
Neatly gather the wings of the arrow and tie a knot. Take care to fold in the cut edges so they no longer show and crease the corners so they are pointy. No potato-shaped pillows here!
Flip it over and admire your progress!
I have collected an enormous amount of "pillow inspiration" for how to decorate your pillow.
I have it posted here on a Pinterest board, I hope you enjoy browsing through them!
I cannot wait to make more. I was thinking of inviting some friends over to make some outdoor pillows while sipping wine on a summer afternoon.
These pillow covers have great gift potential as they can really be personalized for fundraising, a bridal or baby shower party theme, or to easily sell on an Etsy store!
Please send us photo of your up-cycled plastic indoor / outdoor pillow below if you make one to firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you enjoy making your throw pillows. I cannot wait to see the photos of finished pillows come in!