Shrink Your Trash


Did you know that there is a stew of plastic twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific? In an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic that I use and throw away, I decided to make shrinky dinks out of used salad containers and document the steps.

Step 1: Eat Salad
You can make shrinky dinks out of plastic containers with the number 6 on them. These aren’t recyclable in New York so I can feel good about shrinky-dinking them. Most deli salad bars use this kind of plastic. Make sure to clean the container and cut the edges off before using.
Step 2: Draw an image onto the plastic
There are different techniques for drawing on shrinky dinks. I like to draw the image with a permanent marker on the right side of the shrinky dink. I made these by tracing images from Fakeproject Corp’s Graf Coloring book.
Step 3: Decorate the plastic
Sand the wrong side of the plastic with a fine grit sandpaper to give the colored pencil some texture to stick to. Color in the design with colored pencils. Since this is the wrong side, reverse your designs. I didn’t do this. The shrinky dinks pictured above are designed to replicate some real and fictional graffiti. My apologies to Borf and KR for shrinking their tags. Cut out your design.
Step 4: Bake in oven at 350 degrees
Baking plastic is generally not good for you. Don’t make shrinky dinks unless you are reconciled to this. I got the best results baking the plastic on a piece of printer paper placed on a cookie sheet with the sanded side facing down. Bake for 1 to 2 minutes in a conventional oven preheated to 350 degrees. Keep an eye on the plastic while it shrinks. The shrinky dink will curl up a lot and start to flatten out as it finishes shrinking. You can help flatten things with a metal spatula.
Step 5: Enjoy
Enjoy your shrinky dink. You can make a number of cool crafts with shrinky dinks including jewelry and kitchen magnets. See more pictures at my Flickr shrinky photo set. Link.
Our Oceans are turning into plastic… are we?
DIY Do-It-Yourself Shrinky Dink Paper
Fakeproject Corp’s Graf Coloring Book
DIY Shrinky Dinks tutorial at Curbly
KR Drips

8 thoughts on “Shrink Your Trash

  1. janiece8586 says:

    Wow! This is really cool. I pray that I wont have any negative affects to this because I definately want to try. I use plastic lids like that when I barbeque but end up tossing them when I’m done. This will be something nice to use in my scrapbooks. Very cool idea.

  2. Sing Yee says:

    Halo! I’m so glad I found this tutorial. :) Is the temperature 350 degrees in Celcius or Fahrenheit? I did a piece and baked at 180 degrees Celcius and it didn’t shrink as much. :(

  3. Michelle says:

    That would be 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If it isn’t working, you may want to put a thermometer in your oven to make sure it is getting to the right temperature. Make sure you are using the right kind of plastic too!

  4. arnique says:

    Does it get thicker after baking like commercial shrink plastic?

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