Flexibility is the key to materials used to crochet. Traditional materials used are yarn, thread, and ribbon. Anything flexible that can be manipulated with a crochet hook to form loops can be used to crochet.
Thin wire that is bendable can be threaded with beads and crocheted into jewelry. Even beads and clasps can be salvaged from old jewelry to thread onto the wire to be crocheted and made into a brand new, one of a kind piece of jewelry. Yard sales and flea markets are two great places to search for used wire, beads, and jewelry clasps.
Plastic shopping bags and plastic wrap that are destined for a land fill can be salvaged. The plastic is cut and looped together to form long, plastic strands, and can be crocheted into handbags, hats, rugs, placemats, and the plastic material make great rain ponchos.
Any stained, outgrown, and outdated clothing can easily be disassembled and prepared to reuse. Wash and dry the garment to remove dirt and dust. Use a seam ripper to carefully cut the seams. Know what you want to make before cutting the fabric so you can gauge the width of the strips. A rug or jacket would use wider strips than what you’d want for a hat or handbag. The strips are then folded and sewn together so there are no rough edges. They are then sewn into long strips and rolled into a ball, waiting to be crocheted.
Instead of cringing at the amount of Christmas and birthday wrap being discarded, grab a bag and rescue both the ribbon and the paper. Mix the ribbon with salvaged yarn to create a one of a kind scarf or hat. The wrapping paper can be twisted and crocheted into a straw hat.
Old sweaters that are out of style can be unraveled, washed and dried, and made into a whole new item. Try to use bulky; one color sweaters. The bulky sweater will produce more yarn. Multi colored sweaters will yield too many short, unusable pieces.
Unusual materials to crochet with are the tapes from old cassettes and twine. Both make textured, durable handbags, placemats, and novelty items.
Most patterns can be adjusted to accommodate the recycled material. It is important to try different sized hooks and different widths of material to obtain the proper gauge for the pattern.
Not only will you have made something unique, you will have the satisfaction of giving an item destined to become trash a second chance at life.