“I Made a Yard Game Out of Flowerpots”
My sister and I hosted a wedding on her property last summer, and the bride wanted an old-fashioned yard game theme for the reception. We made a simple beanbag toss from discarded plastic flowerpots. The old pots also stack nicely in storage while waiting for the next event.
– Pam Walker
“I Repurpose Fabric From Thrift Stores”
I’ve been making theatrical costumes for many years and have rarely worked with a theater troupe that has any money for costumes. I started hunting thrift stores and have found many things to work with over the years, from castoff dresses with dropped waists to costume The Boy Friend back in the 1970s, to drapes and duvet covers that I made into elaborate Victorian outfits. Now I find I cannot bring myself to purchase new fabric; I much prefer remaking something that’s been discarded. I also use castoff home decor items, such as old pillows, to make tote bags for friends and family and to sell at craft fairs.
– Joan Hemm
“I Turn Aluminum Cans Into Art”
After washing aluminum cans, I cut them apart and flatten them for my art projects. One of my favorite things to make is “Birds on a Wire or Branch.” I trace a bird and its wing on a can, carefully cut both out, then crease each side with an old roller-tip ink pen. I attach the wing with an old button and punch two small holes at the bottom. Lastly, I string the birds on a wire or a twisted wire branch. Saving the planet can be as beautiful as it is useful.
– Deborah Warner
“My Old Shoes Give Birds a Home”
I have a boot tree in my backyard – I’ve nailed old shoes and boots to an old light pole. The boots provide homes for birds. I got the idea from a neighbor in the 1960s.
– Mark Baranoski
New Albany, Ohio
“I Use Bedding Bags To Organize My Knitting Gear”
It pains me to know that the zippered, clear plastic packaging that so many sheets, comforters, tablecloths and other home textiles come in go straight into the garbage. So, I organized my yarn stash using these unrecyclable “tote bags” to contain the yarn in batches by fiber type and by yarn earmarked for certain patterns. It’s easier to see what’s what through these clear containers, and the yarn is protected from picking up dust or house odors.
– Beth Glaspie
Essex Junction, Vermont
“I Make Mosaics From Old Flooring”
I use linoleum and vinyl as my media for mosaic art. Since my pieces consist of discontinued samples and discarded materials, I must create my images using a limited range of color. That is the challenge I enjoy – putting these materials to a new and creative use. It all becomes art rather than landfill! Used shipping crates, scrap lumber and furniture are the backing or “canvas,” completing the recycled theme. I started doing this 12 years ago at age 70. It’s never too late for an old dog to create new art.
– Gordon Campbell
“I Save Empty Hummus Containers To Store Granola”
The best way to repurpose plastic hummus containers? Store homemade granola for breakfast on the go. In a large bowl, toss 4 cups thick textured oats, 1⁄4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup broken pecans, 1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds, 1⁄2 cup shredded coconut and 1⁄4 cup raw pumpkin seeds. In a separate bowl, mix 1⁄4 cup maple syrup and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, then pour and mix into the oat mixture. Line a baking dish with parchment paper, pour in granola mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40 minutes at 350° F or until oats are golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool, then mix in 1⁄4 cup chia seeds and 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries.
– Kátalena Saracino
Loma Linda, California
“Our Dryer Lint Becomes a Campfire-Starter”
Being eco-friendly both at home and outdoors is important to my family. When starting fires at the campsite or in our closed-combustion wood stove, we use toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint. If we don’t have enough lint, we add used tissues or paper towels. A couple of these fire-starters are always in a waterproof bag in our daypacks, in case of emergency while out in the woods.
– Janet Dubiel
Franconia, New Hampshire
“My Bandmate Made a Drum Kit From Discarded Odds and Ends”
My neighbor and bandmate, Dave Driskell, made a drum kit for my granddaughter. I am sure it’s the best-sounding empty kitty litter container, coffee can and laundry soap lid ever.
– Daria Lin-Guelig