Archive for the "toys" category

Green Halloween: How can I reuse or recycle Halloween masks?

With Halloween at the weekend, the shops are full masks and costumes at the moment.

To keep this blog reasonably rant free, I shalln’t go into my feelings for a) the sudden importing of Halloween as a large scale holiday and b) the rise of shop-bought fancy dress outfits and costumes (isn’t half the fun making it yourself and it being a laugh rather than perfect replica?). Whether I like it or not, Halloween is big business nowadays and that means that come next Monday morning, there will be a lot of masks facing brief visit to the dustbin on their way to landfill.

The cheapest sort are face-only flimsy plastic, held on with a thin piece of elastic. They’re seemingly intended for one time use before tearing at a weak spot. The more expensive specific-character ones are often latex or thicker plastic.

Of course, there is an obvious “reduce”: don’t buy them in the first place or keep it and use it again in the future – but people rarely go as the same thing year after year. But what about reuses or recycling ideas?

Has anyone remodelled an old mask to use for something else? I teach drama one evening a week and wanted some masks in the summer to use as a basis for making Japanese Noh masks – I didn’t need them in the end but having something already modelled around a face shape would have been useful then.

Or what about using them for moulds for something? I’m not sure the plastic of the cheap ones would be strong enough for repeated uses but you might be able to use them for something… any ideas?

I doubt many theatre groups would want the a raft load of horror masks unless they were doing a halloween spectacular – and they might be too scary/too adult for schools to want them – can anyone think of anywhere else that might need some en masse?

(Photo by creativedc)

What can I reuse or recycle to make a dog/puppy toy?

Recycle This regular Anna left a question on the Suggest an Item page:

What could I use to make dog toys?

My friend got a puppy and I’d like to make him some toys. I’ve made cat toys for ages, but puppy toys definitely need to be stronger and bigger.

Dog toys do typically need to be bigger and stronger than cat toys – it’s quite important that they’re the right size for the hound, given the variety of pooch sizes — neither too big or too small.

I’m still quite new to dog ownership – we’ve had Lily for about six months now – and she’s not really one to play with toys, just carry them around, so we’ve not made any toys for her.

I do know though that a quick and easy tug toy can be made plaiting together old tights/stockings/pantihose or strips of an old tshirt.

Or make the equivalent of a ball on a string by placing an old tennis ball (or the like) at the end of an old stretched sock, tie a knot in the sock to secure the ball, then play away!

Any other suggestions? What homemade toys have you made for your dog? Or, more typically, what has your dog found itself to reuse as a toy? ;)

(I illustrated the equivalent cat toy post with a picture of our cat Boron going mad with a piece of string. Lily refused to perform. So comedy photo by Miguel Vera instead – great expression!)

How can I reuse or recycle jigsaws?

We’ve had an email from Kathy asking about getting rid of her children’s old jigsaws:

I just know they’ve got pieces missing so would feel bad about giving them to a charity shop. They’re cardboard with a shiny paper top so they could be recycled?

Probably – as long as it’s just paper and not plastic laminate. Most (but not all) paper recycling bins take light card & glossy paper but best to check the advice in your area.

Since it’s getting to the dog days of the summer holidays and they’ll be bored, perhaps use child labour to do the jigsaws and check for missing pieces, then you’ll know what’s missing. If it’s not an important piece, you could mark on the box what is missing and some charity shops/thrift shops still might take them.

Other than that, I’ve seen old puzzle pieces used as decorations in a number of craft projects – photo frames & on ornaments and to make Christmas decorations (wreaths & baubles).

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by pzado)

How can I reuse or recycle plastic toys from Christmas crackers?

Another one from the “Suggest An Item” page, Covert_Operations’78 asked:

How can I reuse or recycle those cheap, tiny plastic toys that come in Christmas crackers, snack packets and the like, please? These are mostly just brittle, non-recyclable plastic ‘shapes’, not like the playable and durable fast food premiums. I don’t buy them, but what do I do with the bunch I’ve acquired over the years at parties and such? Even if I try to reduce by not accepting them, they would have been purchased, and would be given out to others anyway, even if I decline. Thank you in advance!

As I explained last month, I don’t celebrate Christmas so it comes across as Bah-humbug when I say it, but ugh, I hate Christmas crackers – so much waste for a split second of cheer. I understand the “it’s hard to reduce” point – they’ve already been bought and few people want to kick up a fuss and refuse to pull one at a party – but so. much. waste. One idea for the future might be to ask if you can provide the crackers for the party – you can then make them out of recycled materials and/or at least know exactly how to recycle all the paper waste, and you can include small but actually useful items as opposed to the random useless stuff you get in commercial ones.

But what to do with the commercial stuff – those little plastic toys? I know a number of people who would use them to make fun costume jewellery or mobile phone charms. You could also use them in little terrariums. Other ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle a broken Guitar Hero guitar?

guitar hero controllerWe’ve had an email from Jamie:

Hey. I’ve got a broken Guitar Hero guitar. Don’t know what to do with it and saw your page about game controllers so thought you might be able to help.

Depending on how/why it’s broken, you might be able to send it back to the vendor: if it’s their fault, they should replace it. If however, it’s broken because you got a little too into the Rock moment and smashed it on the floor… they’ll probably be less like to replace it ;)

Again depending on how it’s broken, it might worth eBaying it for “spares or repairs” – I know the head and neck separate on the newer guitars, I wonder if if the broken part could be swapped out… If it’s broken for an electronic switch issue, someone that way inclined might be able to fix it in a shot.

Aside from that, a toy for a kid?

Other ideas?

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)