Unicorn, tower, decorated eggs, natural toiletries and seed paper

Make: A Load of Old Rubbish?

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I’ve been in pain a lot recently and, as a result, I’ve spent a lot of time crafting. I find it useful for pain management, as it distracts from pain and can help stop the brain loop of, “Ow, ow, ow”. Theres also a fair bit of research on the wellbeing benefits of art and craft – and it’s a good way to feel productive when pain hampers brain function.

Getting into a ‘flow’ state can help time pass – always good when you’re forced to lie with your feet raised up above heart level due to ankles that are three times larger than usual (I made the mistake of Spring cleaning without wearing compression wear, boots and ankle braces, foolishly thinking it was just pottering around the house. My hyper mobile EDS body does not allow for such things, apparently.)

However, crafting can be pricey. I’m also anti waste. As such, I try to use recycled materials as much as possible. A little creativity can reduce your waste a lot – and provide hours of fun.

Here’s some of the so-called rubbish I generate (in front of a papier mache and cardboard box Tree of Life cupboard I made to hide my toiletry making equipment, and prosecco cork toadstools).

Eggshells, fruit peel and packaging

Much of it could go into compost: the fruit skins (not too much citrus or it can be too acid), paper, cardboard (I rip it up), teabags (make sure yours are plastic free – most aren’t – and if not, just empty the grounds but not the bags into your compost) and eggshells (crushed. They can also be laid around seedlings to try to keep slugs at bay, with limited guarantees of success in my experience).

However, you can also get creative…

Unicorn, tower, decorated eggs, natural toiletries and seed paper

The unicorn and dragon were made from kitchen towel, bubble wrap (to fill the unicorn body cavity), PVA glue, ecoglitter and fabric scraps (the googly eyes were a gift, though I try to avoid using plastic as far as I can). If kitchen towel has only been used to mop up spilt tea or wipe glue off your hands, it can be reused for crafting (obviously, I wouldn’t reuse kitchen towel with bodily waste or anything perishable on it, though I tend to use rags, not kitchen towel, for cleaning anyway).

The eggs were painted with nail varnish that had gone lumpy, and some were rolled in ecoglitter. Thinned with nail varnish remover, old nail varnish makes great paint – complete with free brush (the Tree of Life is painted with nail  varnish). Once empty, I clean the bottles with acetone then rinse thorough and use for holding aromatherapy blends that can be painted on to the skin.

The Smarties tube was a super simple craft: cover tube in PVA. Roll in ecoglitter. Add door and window from card offcuts. Drying time aside (ten minutes or so), it’s a great craft for  those who require speedy gratification.

The toilet roll was turned into plantable seedling/cutting holders by cutting slits in the base and folding them in to form a tiny pot. These are ideal for giving friends cuttings or taking to seed and plant swaps. Similarly, yogurt pots are great for starting seeds off.

The coffee grounds were turned into morning body scrub with citrus peel, oats and peppermint aromatherapy oil. Stored in the  fridge, it will last a week or two. Eggshells make the perfect holder to transport a single portion of scrub if you want to give it to (non vegan) friends (wash well first and wrap in recycled foil).

The tea was used to stain paper, which I then age further by burning the edges using incense (more controllable than a lighter). I also used it to cover this bookcase I made for #NatureBookClub.

Bookshelf decorated with leaves and flowers

The pink paper was stained with raspberry juice from old raspberries that were inedible but still had viable seeds. Squishing them onto kitchen towel both dyes the paper and turns it into raspberry seed paper. I cut it into hearts and add it to gift packs. You can do this with tomatoes too, though the colour is less intense so it doesn’t look as good.

Plastic ready meal packaging can make mini gardens and terrariums. Foil and baking parchment can be washed and reused. Boxes can be turned into shelves, drawers, book covers and countless other things.

Obviously, reducing consumption is important for sustainability, but sometimes that’s not easy. For me, ready meals are sometimes the only way I can eat, thanks to my disability and small freezer. However, just because something is designed for single use, it doesn’t mean it can’t be used in other ways. How much of your recycling box can you use this week?



One comment

  1. Especially like the raspberry idea. Afraid I am guilty of buying the occasional ready meal and need to find an option better than just recycling.

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