Archive for the "packaging" category

How can I reuse or recycle large (catering size) food cans?

Sam has emailed asking about large food cans:

I have a number of large metal food cans, some zinc lined, which are called #10 size. They hold about 5 or 6 lbs (just under 3kg) of beans, or other foods. Now that they’re empty, they are open on one end, with no plastic lid to fit them. Any ideas?

Surely I’m not the only one faced with this. I can recycle them, but would like to reuse them.

They sound like pretty big tin cans – probably similar to what we call “catering size” in the UK. I think at least some of the ideas we have for regular size tin cans could be supersized here: plant pots, candle/tea holders for several candles, or using them as a vessel for making those candles in the first place.

But are there any reuses (or upcycling ideas) that are perfect for these bigger cans? Could the can be flattened out to make anything?

How can I reuse or recycle the nets you get around wine bottles?

Long time Recycle This friend (and very frequent commenter!) Anna has a question about the protective sleeves slipped around wine bottles:

Any ideas what to do with the plastic nets they put for wine bottles for protecting them when you buy one?

I don’t drink wine so I had to turn to my friend Google to see what those nets are like – some have big holes and look foamy, whereas others have smaller holes and look more like the thin plastic netting you get garlic bulbs in (a smaller version of orange/onion nets). I think the former are to provide some “bounce” protection while the latter just keep all the big bits of glass together in the event of a breakage. (Please correct me if I’m wrong about those assumptions.)

Either way, the first suggestion has to be reduce if you can: if they only add the netting at the shop after you’ve bought the wine, don’t let them: either take an old net to reuse or throw caution to the wind and just go nude ;)

As for reusing them for other things, the thinner/smaller holed nets can be filled with bird seed to make your own bird feeders, filled with the ends of old soap bars and hung on an outside tap for garden clean-up, or bunched up to make washing scrubbies.

I’d be tempted to throw a few of the foam type ones in with our reusable shopping bag stash for when we go to the supermarket for a big shop – they could cushion glass jars and other glass bottles to save them clinking together all the way home. Opened out flat, the foam ones would also be useful as cushioning under heavy plant pots (so they’re less likely to damage/dint the surface they’re stood on) or between occasionally use crockery to save that knocking together too.

How do you reuse or recycle those nets?

What food packaging & other household waste do you use for starting seeds?

It’s seed-starting time here in the northern hemisphere and my Twitter feed is full of exciting stories about what fruit & veg people are going to be growing this year. I’ve added half a dozen more fruit bushes to our garden this year but I’ve not sown any seeds yet — my seed box is sat on the side of my desk making sad puppy eyes at me as I type ;)

Gardeners & allotmenteers are just about always resourceful types when it comes to reusing and recycling stuff – I don’t think I’ve ever met a grower who doesn’t keep ice cream/margarine tubs etc for reuse – but I thought it would be worth having a bit of a sharing session about what you reuse for starting seeds, as plant pots or as water-catchers under plant pots, and if there is anything that you choose not to reuse for whatever reason.

At one point, a good few years ago now, I think about 90% of my seeds were started in plastic mushroom tubs — either directly in the tub or using them to catch water draining from plants pots. In the past, I also used shallow fresh pasta packaging as starter trays and multi-serving yoghurt/cream pots for the growing on stage. I know my dad keeps the clear plastic boxes used by supermarkets for muffins or pastries whenever he gets them because the lid gives the tray its own little propagator/greenhouse too – and similarly he cuts down 2ltr pop/soda bottles to make a pot with its own little cloche.

Moving away from plastic – since I do worry about putting plastic in direct sunlight/warm spots when it’s not designed to be used in that way, I’ve used newspaper and toilet roll tubes to make “plantable” pots – the former just require a little folding into shape and the latter can be cut in half to make twice the number or left whole as “root trainers” for growing carrots or parsnips.

(I also cut up plastic milk bottles & drinks cans to make plant markers for all these many, many seeds!)

So, what packaging (or other household waste) do you reuse for starting off your seedlings? What about for the growing on stage?

How can I reuse or recycle margarine tub lids/cream cheese tub lids?

Whitney has emailed us, asking about margarine tub lids:

i’m trying to do my part and make sure that i recycle everything that i can, or at least find a way to reuse it. i recycle my #5 containers of cream cheese, margarine, etc, but have nothing to do with the lids, which even if they are also #5 they are not accepted in my recycling.

any ideas of what i can do with them? typically i just put them under plant pots, but i can only have so many plants. and i thought about making coasters, but i don’t really use coasters, so i’m open to some new ideas!

When we get this type of tub, we tend to keep both the lid & the tub to reuse for leftovers instead of Tupperware or use as small storage boxes in other parts of the house (eg, we’ve got one for batteries, one for fuses and one for shoe polish in our misc cupboard). But there are a lot more uses for the tub part than the lids so I imagine there are a lot of lids going in the bin — let’s see what we can do with them :)

Funnily enough, a lot of my ideas are the same as the ones from Monday’s handicapped tags – add them to your tool box for use while decorating/painting, cut them up for plant markers in the garden, cut the rim off and shape the remaining plastic to use as a dough scrapper etc.

Anyone got any more original ideas though? :)

(Photo by cogdogblog)

How can I reuse roller adhesive refill packs (like Stampin Up snail adhesive)?

We’ve had an email from Carmel:

Hello, I’m a paper crafter and was a Stampin Up demonstrator and use the Stampin Up snail adhesives or the tombow roller adhesives.

Anyhow, to refill these things you have to buy another plastic mechanism that has the tape already in it. With all the paper crafters all over the world I’m sure there are lots in landfills. Wondering how they can be recycled for the plastic.

For non-paper crafters like me, the picture is of a snail adhesive refill – as Carmel says, tape already enclosed in a hard plastic shell.

As for actually recycling it, the lovely people at Stampin Up tell me it’s a whole different set of plastics (details below) so I wouldn’t have thought many people will want to pull them apart to recycle as many bits as possible.

Sometimes I’m a bit worried about always suggesting craft projects as reuse ideas because I know not everyone is the crafty sort, but the people who buy these already are crafty or they wouldn’t be buying them so … any fab craft ideas to re-use or repurpose these babies?

Or any other suggestions?