Shredded Plastic Indoor/ Outdoor Pillow




Introduction: Shredded Plastic Indoor/ Outdoor Pillow

About: I design products that break the consumer trap of buying cheap home goods and tossing them a few years later. We can all just stop doing that and go back to a time where if you needed something you would make …

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. Reducing plastic consumption is hard. Plastic is everywhere and it is hard to imagine how the world can handle it all.

Truth is, the world cannot handle it and a solution for managing plastic must be found.

For now, any plastic packaging passing through my home or business is going to be used to make multiple throw pillows, which is what I will be showing how to do in this Instructable.

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.

It would be hard for anyone to guess the material was actually from my recycling bin!


Upcycled 18" X 18" zippered throw pillowcase

(or you can purchase organic cotton + latex, waterproof zippered cases 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.

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.

Step 1: Collect Your Plastic

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 twice 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.

Step 2: It Is All in the Way You Cut It

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 bags, 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.

Step 3: Fill and Zipper Close Your Pillow Case.

Fill your case more than you think it can hold. These pillows feel best slightly overfilled.

The waterproof zippered pillowcase I used is 18 X 18 and made from waterproof organic cotton fabric.
The fabric has natural tree rubber infused into it making it completely waterproof.

Step 4: Make a No Sew Cover for Your New Pillow

Making 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.

The last step of this Instructable will include the to scale pattern for the shape in photo 1 above.

Note the area of the pillow where you can create your own art. The next step in this instructable contains tons of inspiration for you to browse. 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.

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 pointed. No potato-shaped pillows here!

Flip it over and admire your progress!

Step 5: Have Fun Decorating Your Pillow Cover Using Sharpies

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 know I cannot wait to make more. I was thinking to invite some friends over to make some outdoor pillows on a summer afternoon. These also have great gift potential as they can really be personalized.

Please post a photo of your upcycled plastic indoor / outdoor pillow below if you make one.

Step 6: Printable Pattern for No-sew Pillowcase

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.

Print the 14-page pdf pattern above on standard 8 1/2 X 11 paper (note page 6 is a spacer and does not contain any lines).

Lay them out edge to edge in the order shown in photo 1.

The lines should line up roughly to give you a general shape to trace, don't worry if the lines do not connect or 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 each download and create both halves.

I hope you enjoy making your throw pillows. I cannot wait to see the photos of finished pillows come in!

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    1 year ago

    Unfortunately, this does not solve the microplastic problem. Microplastics are generated by plastic being used. Even clothes shed microplastics simply by being worn (or put through the washing machine, dryer, ...). It has mostly to do with friction. So on the whole, I'm not entirely sure whether this project improves matters, or contributes further to the problem. I'm leaning towards "improves", as I can't imagine the microplastics being shed by these pillows being worse than the same amount of plastic ending up in landfills, but I could be wrong.

    That said, still a pretty cool project. Never occured to me to use shredded plastic to make weather-proof pillow filling.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks and you are 100% correct. This does not solve the microplastic problem, only delays the microplastics from entering the environment. The microplastics cannot escape from the case. I do not advocate buying anything wrapped in plastic but when it does come into your home, capture it and save it, use it until we have figured out a way to biodegrade plastics instead of sending it all to the landfill. Each pillow made with the shredded plastic could prevent someone from buying a new synthetic fiberfill filled pillow which is what most outdoor pillows use.


    1 year ago

    the idea is great but what you do with plastic bag sound coming from your pillow? ;) I like the idea but really that was the first thing came to my mind, "how do you sleep with the talking pillow? :))" great job \m/


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comment Danialsa. They barely make a sound! This is an indoor/outdoor throw pillow, for your back - not a bed pillow that you would put your ear directly on. I avoided crinkly plastics like those plastic windows in envelopes as I did not want them to be noisy.


    Reply 1 year ago

    cool \m/


    Tip 1 year ago on Step 6

    In order to best position the art on your pillow simply put the blank case on your pillow as in step 4 and when you are happy with how it is fitted make 4 pencil marks, one on each corner. Remove the cover and give it a quick iron. Next, tape it to a large piece of cardboard and use the pencil marks as the area to center your art / design on.


    1 year ago

    Kudos on finding a useful way to re-use plastic.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! You would be surprised how much plastic goes into one pillow.