Crafty Richela Recycles

I first met Richela Morgan when I stumbled upon her blog, Crafty Richela. It was about the time Richela's mother had passed away quite suddenly. As a way to sort her emotions, she wrote an eloquent series called 100 Days of Norma that drew me in.

You may have heard of Richela's book, The Green Crafter: 52 Eco Friendly Projects for Every Week of the Year. No way would she stop creating once the year was over... Richela has a knack for bringing new life to mundane supplies that the rest of us pack off to the recycling center without a backward glance... brown paper bags, milk cartons, cereal boxes... you name it.


How stylish is this brown paper totebag?! Varnish and duct tape make it extra sturdy.

I asked Richela to tell us how she happened to get started on this recycling/crafting venture:

Though I've always had a tendency to make things, I didn't craft on a regular basis until my early twenties. I worked in publishing as a production/design assistant in an office where the environment was rich with creativity... lots of graphic designers and production managers with a keen sense of order and color. I started making holiday gifts and cards out of items bound for the trash can/recycle bin as a way of saving money, but I also found it satisfying to work with my hands.

I bet this smiling cow wallet would make spending more fun!


Your mother had such a huge impact on your life as evidenced by 100 Days of Norma. Was she a crafter too?

My mom sewed a lot while I was growing up, from regular play clothes to my sister's senior prom dress. I used to think it was out of necessity because we had little money, but when I was writing the book, she looked at my projects and gave me advice on how to make them better. And more often than not she was right! I realized that she was a kindred spirit, and after the book came out I would call her up to discuss projects I was working on. I only started sewing paper right before she passed away, and I can imagine how happy she would have been to see the progress of my sewing.

This greeting card is part of an alphabet series that combines dishwasher detergent boxes with magazine and newspaper illustrations.


A functional journal makes clever use of coffee holders.


Another notebook... this one with a stitched beer carton cover.


Richela's Etsy shop tagline is completely appropo: "Little things with the big picture in mind."
Ann Martin
Ann Martin

This is a short biography of the post author and you can replace it with your own biography.


  1. Those are not only functional & totally impressive, they are lovely! I'm SUCH a coffee junkie, I really need to make use of all my Starbuck's things. Thank you for making me THINK about the creative possibilities to be found in EVERYTHING!

  2. Absolutely inspiring! I am always so worried about the amount of waste I throw away every 2nd or 3rd day! I think I will start off with some recycling soon too! :-)

  3. These are so good Ann,The smiling cow wallet really adorable. I love to sew too ,may be I too can try them on cards.

  4. Very creative! Really love the first two.

  5. Fantastic ideas .i try to make recycle projects whenever possible. these projects are fabulous .

  6. This is weird. I just left a post saying how awesome this stuff is, but now it's not here. Maybe I missed something. Anyway, I commented on how clever this is and what a great way to reuse things that many people (myself included) toss into the trash or recycle bin without thinking. I also mentioned how cute that cow wallet is.

    When I checked out her Etsy shop I just couldn't resist, so I'm sorry to inform everyone that the cow wallet (and a starbucks notebook!) are now officially off the market. But maybe if you ask nicely she can make another one for you. :)

  7. Yay! Ann: thank you for this. And everyone that left comments: I appreciate your kind/supportive words.

    As for the wallet and book: YES, I can definitely make more. There will always be milk and coffee to drink!

  8. Oh that tote bag is pure genius

  9. Awesome!! My fave is the first one. Fantastic idea!

  10. Thanks for sharing these Ann, I just love how practical they are and so unique and quirky. Right down my alley :)

  11. Oh WOW! People amaze me with what they create. The card alphabet series is neat. Love every single one of these!

    (After reading more, I do think I need to learn how to thread my sewing machine.)

  12. i love it - recycling and adorableness all in one. that cow wallet is so freaking cute!

  13. I just wanted to post an update. About five minutes ago the mail lady delivered my package from Richela. I ordered the milk carton wallet and the notebook made of starbucks coffee sleeves.

    I have to say that the cow wallet isn't as cute as it looks in the pictures here. It is CUTER!! Even my husband thought it was cute! Both the wallet and the journal are SO well made with an amazing attention to detail. My husband says I'm really persnickety in my projects, and he's always amazed when I spend extra time to make something just exactly right. I think Richela has me beat in that department. Her stuff is just great! So well made and so very clever.

    And Richela really walks the walk. Even the invoice she included with the items was printed on a paper bag!!

    I originally bought the starbucks journal as a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. But I'm going to keep it for myself, so I'm heading back to her shop for some more goods! :D

  14. The first bag is so fantastic! The wooden handles are the perfect touch.

  15. Loved the idea. I have made a recycled wallet before with magazine paper using the weaving technique. But I loved the stitching details on the milk wallet! What sort of machine do you use to stitch it up?

    1. Hi Pinaz, I was just in touch with Richela and this is her answer to your question:

      I use a basic Kenmore sewing machine. It's the least expensive model that I bought from JC Penney for about $75! I haven't done (nor will attempt to do) anything fancy with my trusty Kenmore, and I often roll the stitches along by hand rather than use the pedal.


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