Posts tagged "newspaper"

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?

Recycled Christmas Decorations: our favourite ideas for 2011

Who wants generic shop-bought Christmas decorations when homemade ones are so much nicer, cheaper and better for the environment? ;)

Our 2010 round-up of our favourite ideas for making upcycled/recycled Christmas decorations has been very popular this year and I hope it’s provided lots of people with lots of inspiration – but if you’ve still got a little space to fill before the weekend, here are some more last minute ideas:

Paper wreaths have been very popular over the last couple of years but I love this one from EcoEmpire because, aside from staples, it’s entirely made from reusing household waste – newspaper, cereal boxes and a little scrap of ribbon (Kat suggests the loops from clothes – I’ve got a drawer full of those!)

Sticking with paper crafts, I also love these paper ball ornaments – either as individual baubles or strung together into a garland. I also love the idea of using foil packaging to make silver or otherwise shiny ones.

These letter ornaments, decorated with scraps from old sweaters, would also work well on their own or as part of a garland spelling out a holiday greeting/special word. “Merry Christmas” if you’ve got a lot of scraps, “joy” if you haven’t ;)

If you prefer your decorations a little more natural, these mini Christmas trees made from twigs are just fab – a simple idea but really nicely executed.

The Crafty Green Poet also reminded me that you don’t have to just use special Christmas ornaments on your tree – any ornaments or little items that don’t usually see the light of day can be hung up on there – even earrings on smaller trees for a little sparkle/bead-y delight.

Finally, Deb/Urbanwide sent me this fun Nativity scene idea: the whole Nativity crew painted on champagne corks. Perfect if little ones want to play with the scene – although if you want one for this year, you’ll have to get working on drinking all the champagne ASAP ;) (A slightly healthier alternative – but one that needs nearly as much forethought – is to use Actimel bottles for the bodies instead.)

Anyone else got any fun recycled Christmas decoration makes or discoveries to share?

(Photos © EcoEmpire & MicheleMadeMe respectively)

Upcycling ideas: bows & flowers & tins & umbrellas & everything

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “links round-up” post about some of the things that I’ve been emailed or spotted around the greater internet recently so … here goes!


  • With the major gift giving time of the year looming in the near-distance, I love this idea of reusing colourful children’s pictures to make gift bows instead of using generic plastic ones. Of course the same idea can be applied to any old paper – as the tutorial shows black-on-white newspaper text looks pretty cool too.
  • I’m always a sucker for stuff made with drinks cans but these flowers are rather cute – I especially like the painted ones.
  • Tinplategirl emailed recently her new tutorials site about working with tinplate – the smooth heavier-weight metal from various large tins & cans. The site includes a number of free videos introducing the craft – where to find the materials and how to work with them – and how-to PDFs for making all sorts of things (some free, some costing up to $9.95). A great resource for people wanting to move on from working with the more malleable drinks can metal.
  • And speaking of large tins, this tiered unit made from old biscuit/chocolate tins has been around for a while now but I thought it was worth mentioning because it’s a lot of fun and useful.
  • Another thing that’s a bit old but feels newly relevant given the sudden switch to autumn this week: how-to recover an umbrella frame. Great for revamping a brolly or fixing it if it gets torn – double up your green points by using old fabric (an old tent? old synthetic clothes?) for the umbrella and reclaiming the best bits of the original fabric for other craft projects (a water resistant swimming bag? or to make foam bath cushion?)
  • Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, do check out, which started as a 30 day/30 upcycled things project but is now a wider collection of upcycling ideas. No how-tos but lots of inspiring, pretty pictures.

Have you seen any fun or interesting reusing or recycling projects recently? Or have you got anything you’d like to show off of your own creation? Do leave a comment below!

Reusing, recycling and upcycling links – and a video

It’s been a while since I’ve featured some of the wonderful reusing, recycling and upcycling links I’ve spotted recently. So, without further ado…:

  • Drinks can pop top lampshade I love this lampshade made with drinks can pop tops – it’s like modern chainmail :)
  • Drinks can bottoms necklace The other end of the cans – a great reuse since so many crafts using the pop tops or the sides of the cans, but I’ve not seen many using the stiffer curved bottoms.
  • Fake shell-like pendants from bubble wrap Following on in the “you’d never guess what this necklace used to be” line, this tutorial shows you how to make shell-like decorations for jewellery from bubble wrap.
  • Old jeans into placemats I think I’ve seen something like this before but it’s still a great idea – denim placement from old jeans, using the pockets as cutlery/napkin holders – cute!

(Bench photo by Kindall)

Seven fantastic ways to transform rubbish into storage

I don’t know about you but I’m itching to get a start on spring cleaning this year – or rather spring decluttering – and as well as getting rid of a whole bunch of stuff, I’d like to have better, neater storage for the stuff I have.

Here are some of the ways I’ll be making recycled storage solutions from rubbish around our home:

Cereal boxes (or scrap cardboard) into magazine files

We have approximately eleventy-hundred tons of paper in the house at the moment – even if half can be thrown away, that’s a whole lot of stuff that needs filing.

Cereal boxes make quick and easy magazine holders – for magazines, notebooks or just papers. Paint them or cover them with pretty paper (or newspaper for a more modern look) to coordinate with your decor/hide your addiction to Coco Puffs.

If you need them to be a bit sturdier, it’s also easy to make your own magazine files from scratch from any scrap cardboard.

Wall mounted storage cans

Lee Meredith turned some coffee cans into fun wall mounted yarn storage – and the same principle can be applied to any cans. They can also attached in the same way but mounted vertically to store other things – like pens, paintbrushes or kitchen utensils.

(I just showed my boyfriend John’s Lee’s yarn pics and he said “phwarr!” and pointed out that if you attached the cans to the walls with stronger screws, you could use them as fun and functional brackets for shelves.)

Storage boxes made from old magazines or newspaper

Old magazines or newspaper can be transformed into storage in a number of different ways – layered up to make mini-hat boxes, coiled into open bowls, or woven into a useful open box for storing … more newspapers.
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