Archive for the "hobbies" category

How can I reuse or recycle damaged books?

As I mentioned on The Really Good Life earlier today, I’m having a bit of an unplanned book buying month this month so I’ve decided to have an equally hitherto unplanned book themed week on both sites :)

Thinking about books reminded me about an email I received a while ago (but can’t find at the moment) asking about whether water damaged books can be recycled. Even though they’re nearly entirely paper, the glue used to bind books can sometimes cause problems along the recycling chain so don’t assume they can be added to normal paper recycling bins – check with your local council/the company that collects the bin first. They can be composted though if you have a compost heap at home – tear them up and add alongside plenty of “greens” if you want them to rot down quicker. On a similar destructive vein, my friend Strowger assures me they burn very well, for a long time, in woodburning stoves, although I’m not sure I could bring myself to burn even a damaged book!

Most people I know get clear out their books by giving them to charity shops – but most charity shops, particularly large chain ones, only want them in a very good, sellable condition so they can charge a decent amount for them. People who do carboot sales or run adhoc jumble sales etc are often slightly less discerning (since they generally have less overheads so can sell them cheaper to offset the condition) – I regularly see boxes of books given away on Freecycle/Freegle labelled as “ideal for carbooters” so that might be an option if the books are still readable and you don’t fancy selling them yourself.

Hardback books – particularly ones with interesting, pretty or retro covers – can be recycled into folders for papers or notebooks (I’ll post some links to how-tos in a “upcycling books round-up” tomorrow). Other people scavenge undamaged pages from old books to use for papercrafts or artwork.

Anyone got any particular reuse, recycling or upcycling suggestions for damaged books, or their parts?

How can I reuse or recycle (or upcycle) cheap glass figurines?

We’ve had an email from Yvonne:

My aunt moved into a care home quite suddenly last month so we’ve “inherited” a few boxes of her stuff to deal with. One of the boxes includes about 40 cheap chintzy little figurines made from glass. I don’t feel right just throwing them away but really don’t want them. What can I do with them? Can they be recycled with glass bottles?

On the latter question, I’d have to say check with your local council but probably not – different types of glass have different properties, which is why bottle banks don’t tend to accept panes of glass or broken tumblers etc, and they probably won’t want to take a chance on this one off load.

Anyway, it would be better to pass them on or reuse them before recycling them. Give them away to a local charity shop or on Freecycle/Freegle, or sell them on eBay – you could sell them as a job lot for car booters or the like if you just want to get rid of them ASAP. They might not mean much to you but some people will collect them and you might have just the figurine they’re looking for.

Any reuse/upcycling ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle boring white buttons?

We’ve had an email from Sally:

I always snip buttons from old clothes before using them for rags but after a few years of my three’s school shirts, I’ve got more plain white buttons than I know what to do with. If they were pretty I’d keep them for crafts but they’re boring! Any ideas?

They could be revamped/upcycled to make them a bit more exciting: I saw a tutorial for spray painting plain buttons a few weeks ago – I’m not a fan of spray paints in general but if you had some ends of cans leftover from other projects, that certainly is one option. An alternative would be to use them to make fabric covered buttons, using up tiny bits of reclaimed material.

Aside from that, they could be used as they are in lieu of beads or the like in a homemade percussion instrument (not one for small kids).

Any other ideas on how they can be reused?

How can I reuse or recycle horse hair?

We’ve had an email from Bea:

I’ve always put my horse’s tail and mane clippings on the his manure heap to compost down but I recently wondered if I could use them for something else instead. I’ve heard of horse hair mattresses but don’t think I have enough for that!

According to Wikipedia, horsehair is/has been used “for various purposes, including upholstery, [artists & shaving] brushes, the bows of musical instruments, a hard-wearing fabric called haircloth, and for horsehair plaster, a wallcovering material formerly used in the construction industry and now found only in older buildings. .. [It is also used in] the crafts of horsehair hitching, horsehair braiding, pottery, and in making jewellery items such as bracelets, necklaces, earrings and [hair clips].” I think the latter group is more appropriate to reuses at home – but the former group might provide inspiration on where you could pass it on — for example, if you had a stables and generated a lot of horsehair, a local old-fashioned upholsterer might be interested in it.

You can compost it of course (as Bea has been doing) and some people use it (along with human hair clippings and anything similarly bit-ty) to discourage slugs from delicate.

Any other ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle not nice homebrewed beer?

We’ve had an email from Simone:

My hubby and I have been homebrewing for a couple of years but our last batch was not nice at all! We’ve got 40 bottles of it but don’t want to drink it ourselves and don’t think it would be fair to force it on others either! Is there anything to be done with it other than pouring it away?

Since I’m obsessed with gardening these days, the first idea that springs to mind is slug traps – they’re not fussy about the quality or taste of the beer. (We’ve not had to use slug traps this year because it’s been too hot and dry for the critters but I’ve used some five years out of date four-for-80p lager for my beer traps in the past and they’ve dived in as if it’s the finest ale of the gods.)

Other ideas may depend on why it’s “not nice at all”. If it’s a problem with the mouthfeel or strength of flavour, you might be able to reuse it for making something like beer bread or in pies/stews.

And if there is a possibility it’s just a matter of taste, perhaps you should try it on some less discerning friends — or if it’s really vile, use it to teach kids not to drink (“this is what all beer tastes like, you should stick to lemonade” “yes mum, it’s horrible” – perhaps an unwise idea from the “smoke a whole box of cigars” school of parenting ;) )

Anyone else got any other ideas?