Posts tagged "can"

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 Stax potato chip cans?

Tammy Gary has asked:

Would love ideas to reuse the Stax potato chip cans.

We don’t have Stax over here in the UK but my friend Google tells me they’re like Pringles, but packed in a plastic tube instead of waxed cardboard.

Some of the Pringles ideas will still apply: they’re great for storing knitting needles and paintbrushes, can be used as storage for homemade biscuits, and is useful as a small poster tube – for either storing documents without creasing or sending through the post.

As these bad buys are plastic (rather than card) so water-resistant, they will lend themselves to other reuses too – I’d imagine they could easily be turned into a bird feeder (cut a couple of feeding windows about a third/half of the way up, add a perch at the bottom then fill with seed), could be used for storing dried goods in the kitchen or as storage for small kids’ toys (eg lego or jigsaw pieces) or crayons.

Any other suggestions?

Upcycling advice: how can I reuse/recycle cans to make jewellery?

We’ve had an email from Pauline:

I would like to use steel and aluminium cans to make jewelery. Do you know how to cut the metal out? Should the can be crushed first? Do you know how to smooth the edges so they don’t cut? If you could throw any light on this or point me to a website as I am not getting much coming up in google at the moment? Thanks.

I’ve made numerous things out of drinks cans (all aluminium I think) over the years and have mostly just used scissors for the cutting – it’s not as hard to cut as you’d think. I might use a can opener to remove the lid or a knife to start a hole in the body but then scissors suffice. I typically cut down the print “seam” and around the top & bottom to remove the curve so am left with a flat rectangle of metal.

(I’ve tried using shaped hole punches on cans but only lightweight ones so not had much success. Alison Bailey Smith has talked about the heavy duty ones she uses on plastic – I wonder if they’d be good on metal.)

And if the edges are smooth, not jagged, they’re also not as sharp as you might think. I’m not saying I’d necessarily want to wear them as jewellery in their nude state but in all my making, I’ve not once cut myself. Anyone got any tips for making the edges safer though?

Finally, anyone made any interesting jewellery from cans – or seen any inspiring examples of work around the wonderful worldwide web?

How can I reuse or recycle tuna cans?

While we’ve covered food cans in general before, Danielle emailed asking tuna cans in particular:

i have so many, what can i do with them?

There’s a wide variety of uses for tuna cans:

I know some people use them to make “buddy burner” candles and you can use them as candle holders too – but make sure you put a bit of sand in the bottom first to absorb the heat from the candle rather than it heating the metal.

Some people clean them up and use them as “cookie cutters” for making large biscuits/cookies, and because everything in this house gets commandeered for the purpose sooner or later, I’ve used them as drip saucers under plant pots (pull the label off and leave them silver for an industrial look, paint them to make them look prettier – shiny white or cream gloss gives a pseudo-vintage enamel look).

Since they’re essentially just a small pot with a low centre of gravity, they’re useful for holding small quantities of paint/glue. Or as students have been known to do – use them as makeshift ashtrays.

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by TanjaS)

How can I reduce my waste from drinking fizzy drinks/soda?

fizzy_drinks(Apologies for the downtime yesterday – our hosting provider had a huge hardware failure. As I also work for our hosting provider, I was stressed from both sides – not a good day!)

We’ve had an email from Jo:

Hi. Got a question for you. Is it better to buy pop in big bottles or cans from a packaging point of view? Big bottles seem like less waste for the amount of liquid but are plastic. Your thoughts?

Neither are great for a number of reasons. Aside from the actual waste from the packaging, it’s really resource-intensive to ship around liquid in anything other than pipes – and the production tends to be pretty bad for the environment too, let’s not forget about the production.

But to the question in hand, both the plastic and metal are non-renewable resources, the creation of which is very destructive to the environment, but both can be recycled and are widely collected. If though, you can only recycle one or the other in your local area, that might sway you one way or the other.

The easiest way to reduce the waste is, of course, to reduce consumption of the drinks in the first place. Or make them at home – either getting the fizz through a natural process (like making homemade ginger beer) or a less natural one.

I usually prefer bottles – we don’t drink much fizzy stuff at all and when we do have it, prefer little amounts rather than full cans – and even though we no longer have doorstep recycling of plastics, plastic bottles have more reuses around the home and garden.

Anyone else got any input? What about suggestions for reducing the amount of fizzy drinks drunk – what are similar but better alternatives?