Archive for the "reverse this" category

What can I reuse or recycle as moulds for making new crayons from old ones?

We asked about stuff to reuse/recycle as homemade soup moulds not too long ago but Danell has messaged with a variation on that theme:

I want to melt old crayon stubs together to make new crayons for kids. I know I could use old muffin tins or ice cube trays, neither of which I have, but I was wanting them in a little more interesting shapes. I’ve seen them made in candy molds, but again, I don’t have any. Any ideas?

A lot of the soup mould ideas we had resulted in practical rather than interesting shapes – but I’m sure there are interesting shaped potential moulds out there too :) I’d look to kid-related packaging – sweet (candy) packaging or toy packaging which is formed plastic around a shape. With Easter coming up, there might be a few egg or bunny shapes floating around for reuse.

Another idea might be to make your own moulds: I suspect Danell doesn’t have all the time in the world for carving intricate shapes but — and this is a complete I-have-no-knowledge-about-this suggestion — could they be made from something like salt dough? Could you make a sheet of salt dough in a baking tray and press fun shapes into it – again toys or magnetic letters – then varnish it to use as a mould? Please feel free to correct me if that wouldn’t work!

One thing to remember – there needs to be a balance between interesting shapes and usability. I’ve seen some new crayons made in star shaped moulds but I imagine the pointy bits would hurt small hands and be a bit awkward to hold too.

Any other ideas? What have you used for interesting shaped moulds — whether for crayons, soap or sweets? Have you made your own moulds from anything in particular?

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?

What can I reuse or recycle to repair the mesh on bicycle panniers?

Good friend of Recycle This and The Really Good Life, Su, has got a question for us:

Bicycle panniers – mine have a really useful stretchy mesh pocket on the outside, unfortunately now more hole than mesh. Any ideas on repairing them? The actual pannier part is absolutely fine.

The summer before last, I bought some mens’ shorts for myself and since I don’t have things down there in need of containment, I removed the “netting” layer – that wouldn’t have been pretty but would have fit the bill perfectly – stretchy white mesh. (I ended up using it in the greenhouse to store bulbs.) Can anyone think of anything else in the same vein to reuse instead? Heavy (so they won’t run) nylon tights maybe?

Another idea which is less reusing/recycling but still repairing: could you crochet a flat mesh from a plastic twine using a variant on a string bag patten? I used to make a version of this bag from all sorts of different yarns when we were short of shopping bags – makes up very quickly because it’s so much hole :)

Any other ideas?

(Photo by arifm)

What can I reuse or recycle to make knitting/crochet blocking pads?

If you follow my simple living blog The Really Good Life, you’ll know that I’ve been crocheting recently. I can’t stand to touch yarn in the warmer months but now it’s cold outside, the hook is pretty much glued to my hand.

I’m currently crocheting a tank top thing to wear as a woolly layer over long-sleeved t-shirts and it’s going to need blocking. For non-crafters, blocking is a finishing technique used for handmade items using natural fibres, which involves gently stretching the dampened garment into its correct shape and pinning it in place to let it dry. It’s not essential but it can improve the hang/drape of the finished item and needs to be done, to a slightly lesser extent, whenever the item is washed (which is why some items have “reshape while wet” on the label).

Purpose-bought blocking mats can be bought – usually rubber or foam mats that allow the item to dry without developing damp mould, are flexible to use (often interlinking so you can use a small piece or a large sheet, depending on your need) and easy to store. Crafters tend to plough all their hard-earned money into precious yarn though so are good at making their own or finding cheaper alternatives: I’ve heard of people using swim floats, garden-kneelers or the like from the £/$ store, of others using clean carpet tiles and others still using cardboard in a pillowcase or under a light towel.

They’re all good ideas but I wondered if the Recycle This community, which I know contains a lot of crafty people, had any other ideas.

What do you use for blocking? Have you made or repurposed anything for the task? Any ideas or advice will be gratefully received!

What can I reuse or recycle to be an eco-friendly pen-pal?

Mary has asked a fun question:

I have a bit of a dilemma. I’m from Minnesota USA, and I have a pen pal in California. We love sending “snail mail” to each other in this day of somewhat impersonal emails/Facebook. While it’s very fun, I’ve recently been thinking about the waste. I keep the cards she sends me, but is there a way to purchase/make more eco friendly cards and envelopes? Thanks!

I’ve been thinking about going back to snail mail for keeping in contact with some people recently (to cut down my computer time) so this is a very well timed question!

You certainly can buy cards and envelopes made by upcycling old paper – old packaging, old maps, old books – all sorts of stuff. If you search for “recycled envelopes” on Etsy, you’ll see the range of stuff available (including ones from friend of Recycle This, SwirlyArts.) You could make your own if you’re that way inclined too.

Look around your home/office to see what you can reuse as writing paper – on my desk in front of me right now, I could use the white-side of some pretty-designed security envelopes, a brown paper bag or if I was feeling more delicate than I generally am, an old sewing pattern. I’d probably cut them neatly with a guillotine or straight scissors, but scrapbookers/papercrafters with the tools on hand could jazz them up with wavy scissors or punch designs. One pre-cut idea might be to use old blurry photos – the type that aren’t suitable for the photo album but look pleasantly abstract by themselves.

Another idea might be to use cards that will serve a different purpose once they arrive with your message – the most obvious idea is picking ones that are so pretty that they can be framed as art, either individually or if you fancy something bigger & bolder and a fun ongoing project, you could make your own large scale design (perhaps by decorating/upcycling card/cardboard packaging) and chop it into card size pieces for gradual reassembly at the other end. More practically, you could find/make a design for recipe cards or dividers for a seed box (or anything your penpal might use for a hobby) – print it on one side of your card/paper and write your message on the back.

A finally suggestion/question from me: it is, of course, better to Reduce than reuse or recycle – would it be possible to make a secure reusable envelope/pouch that could be sent back and forth? If it can be made from existing materials all the better – any ideas?

Any other suggestions for Mary?