Fact: I am murder on earbuds. I throw 'em in my messenger bag to get crushed, leave 'em on my floor to get stepped on, and ball 'em up in my pocket to get massacred. The poor little devils don't stand a chance of survival, and invariably end up battered, bruised, and disfigured. Most of the time, they pop their external foam windguards, and sometimes the plastic casings those foam dealies protect, long before their insides stop being able to pump music. So, what to do with all these deformed but functional earbuds crammed into that drawer in my closet? Make speakers!
If you too have a set of mangled 'buds that still have functional hearts of gold, try transforming them into cool, working speakers with the help of a couple items that would otherwise end up in your trash can or recycling bin. The end result might not offer a high-tech subwoofer, and you might want some real green speakers for your stereo system proper, but these little DIY solutions will give plenty of amplification for, say, hooking up to your laptop so you can hear the audio on, say, a cool online video clip of Bill Nye the Science Guy on Recycling.
DIY Speakers from Disposable Cups
If you've got a couple of cups lying around from a party, or have some extra drink receptacles that ended up in your takeout bag but never got used, just poke a couple holes in them, and thread the earbuds through like so, following the lead of resourceful designer Dimitry Zagga.
DIY Speakers from Scratch Paper
Grab a couple of sturdy-ish sheets of card stock or construction paper from your recycling bin, a couple pieces of regular clear sticky tape, and experiment with different shapes. Try rolling them into different sizes of cones, or get fancy with a pair of scissors and some off-the-cuff origami to fold them into boxes or anything you can imagine that looks cool. Since the paper is already post-consumer, you've got nothing to lose by wasting a few sheets in trial and error, so use it as an opportunity to explore what kind of acoustics you can get out of different shapes.
DIY Speakers from an Altoid Tin
After you've reaped the rewards of minty-fresh breath, repurpose the container into a tiny portable speaker ala this headphones speaker project on Instructables. You'll need to be comfortable using a dremel, but hey, it's totally worth it for the indie cred.