Green has been the new black for some time now. Everyone uses re-usable grocery bags, and everyone is recycling, and there are lots of great projects and ideas for making jewelry and beads with recycling and re-purposing things you'd usually throw away.
Everyone remembers doing rolled beads out of magazine pages right? You cut a long narrow triangle, and roll it around a stirrer straw, then glue then end, and cover the whole thing with white glue, clear nail polish or Mod Podge.
The same thing can be done with junk mail, and the insides of security envelopes like bills and things like that come in frequently have great designs.
Origami Stars are really easy to make. You cut a strip lengthwise and about 3/8ths to 1/2 an inch wide from magazine pages and fold them.After they are folded you can seal them the same way you'd seal a paper bead. They can be strung very easily by piercing them with a needle and thread. They look lovely strung on a bracelet and they weigh so very little. My daughter and I make them slightly bigger with wrapping paper after unwrapping presents on Christmas morning to hang from next years Christmas tree.
You could also fold water balloon models and string those. A lot of origami models folded from magazine or junk mail paper look very pretty on earrings or other types of jewelry. I like folding with magazine pages because it takes folds very crisply.
paper-mâché type beads made with glue and newspaper are also very easy and very light, and you can drill them with a craft drill
Timpy Works has some great, inexpensive e-books on making jewelry from some very unlikely materials like foam packaging. I have several of her e-books, and they are laid out very concisely with lots of great ideas and easy projects.
D.I.Y. Network posted this great project for making beads with old glass bottles
And on Craftster has this great project for making beads out of plastic bottles.
You can also make nifty pendants from bottle caps and resin. My husband works at a hotel, and he gets the bartenders to save bottle caps for me for all sorts of crafts.
It's a lot of fun to make beads from things you'd normally throw away, and it's a great project to do with children.