How can I reuse or recycle foam swimming floats?

Swimming floatsI’ve recently started going swimming at my local pool and every time I go (three times a week at the moment – yay previously incredibly unfit me!), I see old polyethylene (?) floats waiting in the bin to be thrown away.

The pool is pretty much constantly used to for children’s swimming lessons so they must go through loads of them as they get beaten up and (I guess) start to deteriorate because they’re constantly ducked in chlorine-y water.

The floats are either small, flat boards (about 30cm/12inches square) or long, thin cylinders of foam like giant haircurlers.

I think about asking to take them but worry they’re just end up cluttering up my cellar unless I can think of good ways to reuse them. So any suggestions?

(And yes, I will be using the save-the-swimsuit and reuse suggestions for my old swimming costumes. ;) )

(Oh, and apologies to anyone reading the site through an RSS reader who saw a bunch of spam links at the bottom of a post the other day – we got slightly hacked… We’ve looked into it and hopefully it won’t happen again – but if it does, please let us know — thanks to Helen for the heads-up this time)

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16 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle foam swimming floats?”

  1. Malva says:

    I think they would make a good surface to block knitted items on. Some people use those giant puzzle pieces made of a similar material as a blocking mat. Something similar could probably be built from those.

  2. VP says:

    They could be used as insulation for e.g. in a cold frame where plants are being overwintered.

  3. Wen Rou says:

    Nothing crafty, I just thought using the flat boards to sit on the floor or on the grass (if you don’t want to get your clothes dirty) Or they can be use when working in the garden, so you can step/knee on the soil easily.

    About the ones that are like giant haircurlers, I thought of cuting them, so you have many flats circles, and make christmas ornaments.

    • molliewobbles says:

      I like the sitting-on-the-grass idea! you could make little pillow-case inspired covers so you wouldn’t have to sit on the gross peely old board. you could get pretty crafty!

  4. Arnold says:

    You can suggest they get made in compostable material – then you can just chuck them in a compost heap in small strips. Visit link and ask if it’s doable!

  5. jen says:

    Archery targets
    boffing weapons ( a game kids play-they make swords sheilds etc from pool noodles and foam )
    giant puzzle pieces for kids
    cut into foam stamps
    knee pads for gardening or whatever
    cut into cushions and cover for outdoor furniture
    padding for the ground around swingsets?

  6. jen says:

    oh, bulletin board?

  7. graymama says:

    I use a swimming board as a macrame board. The T pins fit in so well! You could see if a local middle school is doing some macrame projects (maybe friendship bracelets). They could use all of the old boards :-)

  8. TweedBunny says:

    The best use I’ve seen for these things is to make Halloween Gravestones props out of them.
    Use a razor blade, stencils, and faux stone spray paint to design whatever you want, then insert stakes for great yard decorations!

  9. Alice says:

    They would insulate incredibly well – putting them around a hot water tank would help it get warm and stay warm, saving fuel and therefore money and the environment.

    If you had enough you could use them to do the loft too!

  10. CTP says:

    i save all “expanded” products like these (and the obvious styrofoam packing/cups/etc.) and repurpose as insulation in my basement and attic. relatively large flat, stiff shapes like these can be good for filling specific holes, whereas most styrofoam i end up breaking up into smaller popcorn pieces and filling cavities.

  11. renee says:

    I’m an ex-swimming teacher. we would cut them up and string them to make the floating dividers so that classes wouldn’t bump into each other.

  12. Katie says:

    Make a lifejacket
    I found two discarded ones on the beach so I made them into a lifejacket, for my kids, using an old raincoat, or old swim suits. I cut up the coat into the shape of two vests added binding and tied them at the sides, so you have one float on the front and one on the back.

  13. I reuse these are targets for my crossbows! Crossbow bolts will destroy just about anything they hit, so this is the perfect replaceable target. They don’t cost much to buy and can take a few shots before they are completely destroyed.

  14. Melanie H says:

    I’m in the process of making a Buzz Light year costume for my son. Can’t use
    cardboard since he must dance in it and choreographer wants him to roll over Woody’s back. The swim kickboard will be the rocket pack from which the wings protrude. It is soft enough for dancing yet hard enough to hopefully make the wings moveable. Hoping i can drill a clean hole in it. Pool noodles are the rockets on the wing edges (ie. cut off pieces of pool noodle)

  15. Anna says:

    Dragonboat paddlers use them as cushions over the wooden seat :) See if there’s a nearby club they can be donated to

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