Samstag, 10. November 2012

No more cold feet

As a first step of greening my bedroom I decided to fully turn off the heating. I love to sleep in a cold room, as long as the duvet is warm enough (another point I need to address). But often I go to bed with cold feet and then it takes me hours to go to sleep.

So, here is my fully recycled solution: A small cushion filled with cherry stones, which can be warmed up in the microwave.

The cherry stones I have bought online, although I have just found instructions on the inernet on how to clean your own cherry stones. However, since I am allergic to cherry, my own production is not really an option.

Next I have measured the size of the glass plate in our microwave in order to optimize the size of the cushion, and sewn a circular insert, which I filled
with the cherry stones.

For the cover I have used some wool fabtic, which I had left over from a sewing project. But bits of old sweaters or blankets work just as well.

Finally, since I am planning to make them for the whole family, I added my name to the cushion.

Now all I have to do every evening before taking my cold feet to bed, is this: Take the insert out and place it into the microwave for about a minute. Then put it back into its soft cover and tuck it under my duvet. Mmmh!!!

Sonntag, 4. November 2012

Two sustainable souvenirs from Austria

For last week's school holiday, we went to our forest in the North of Austria. The area is called "Waldviertel" and is famous for its forests and for growing poppies and hemp.

In a speciality shop for local produce I found handmade soaps made out of poppies and hemp. They do not only smell nice, but are wrapped in paper, which
gets me around the problem of what to do with the plastic packaging. 

Since we so far have mainly used liquid soap, I don't have any soap dishes at home. I wanted something, which is cheap, beautiful, non-breakable, has a low impact on the environment and - ideally - comes from the Waldviertel area. 

On our woodpile I found a relatively flat piece of beech fire wood. I asked my dad to cut it off to roughly a square shape, and now I have a soap dish. And when I don't need it any more, I will return it to its original purpose and put it on the fire.

Sonntag, 21. Oktober 2012

Knitting needle chop sticks

I just sat down on a train looking forward to enjoying my salad, when I realised that I had forgotten to bring cutlery.

I had already resigned to eating with my fingers, when I remembered my bamboo knitting needles, which I carry almost wherever I go. Although they are quite thin, it turned out that they work absolutely fine as chopsticks to the point that I will not pick up disposable chopsticks or cutlery when I have knitting needles with me.

Now I still need to find a solution for what to do with the plastic bowl the salad came in. Any ideas?

Montag, 12. März 2012

Oven mitts

Our old oven mitts have become so greasy over the years that even the washing machine cannot deal with them any more. So I have decided we need new ones. Although the store-bought ones are quite functional with their heat-reflective silver fabric, they can only be washed at 30°C which is not enough to get the grease out.

I have used some old canvas scraps, a cotton lining and an old cotton towel as the insulating layer in-between. I have admittedly not done a scientific comparison with the store-bought version, but I have used my mitts a few times now and never burned my fingers.

Tomato hot house

It is time to grow some tomato plants for the summer. The last few years I bought store grown tomato plants, which I put directly into the garden, but this year I wanted the kids to experience growing something from seeds.

As always, I have tried not to buy anything for this project, but only use recycled objects. I decided on cardboard egg cartons and on plastic fruit boxes from the supermarket. I cut the egg carton to size to fit into the plastic box. Then I covered most of the ventilation holes in the box with selo-tape. The inside of the egg-box I filled with soil and seeds.

It surely isn't pretty, but it is cheap and it works. After less than 7 days on my window sill the tomatoes have already sprouted.

Make do and mend 2

After a long break I finally had a weekend with lots of time on my hands, which I could use for more recycling projects.

I have built up a huge pile of things (predominantly clothes) I wanted to mend. So I picked out an old cardigan, which I bought 18 (!) years ago, when I first went to London to look for a place to stay for college. And I have worn this cardigan for all those 18 years since. No surprise the hems are a bit frayed and the fabric is worn through at the elbows. It's also a bit baggy by now, but maybe I can do something about that, too.

So, I have selected some nice fabric to patch up the elbows and the hems. Instead of going for the usual leather patches, I have chosen a flowery print. I was hoping that this would turn the slightly baggy shape into a nice feminine "flowing" look. To fit the look I have also covered some buttons in the same fabric and replaced the old buttons.

I am quite happy with the end result. I will probably not wear this cardigan to any business meetings, but at home or the weekend it looks great and is very comfortable.

Dienstag, 7. Februar 2012

Recycling takes time

I am sorry it has been quiet for some time on this blog. I have been busy with a big project for work and some travelling and did not find a minute for any creative recycling.

This brought home to me how time intensive a more sustainable lifestyle can be and how time pressure promotes unsustainable behaviours.

One example: I forgot to pack a cardigan for my trip, so I needed to buy one, as I did not want to wear a business blazer for 5 days. Ok, I bought one knitted in Scotland from organic wool, but still...

But maybe this could be a new design challenge: Recycling on the go - How to make the most of your waste when travelling?

Any ideas?

Dienstag, 17. Januar 2012

hand-knitted potholders

This is a project I have already worked on some time ago, but added a few more samples this week. The idea was to turn a pile of worn-out T-shirts, which I did not want to throw away because of the attached memories, into something usefull. If you cut up T-shirts into long strips of about 2 cm in width, they make very good knitting yarn. So that's what I did with the T-shirts. For best results try to find ring-spun T-shirts, which are luckily mainly sold in North America, where I have travelled to frequently in the past.

If you want to save the memories attached to a perticular T-shirt, you can add a little embroidered label to the pot holder to mark its origin.

Sonntag, 15. Januar 2012

Bottle decoration

This weekend we went skiing, so there was little time for recycling other than the diligent sorting of our garbage.

But on the slopes I saw this interesting decoration made from colour painted old bottles.

Donnerstag, 12. Januar 2012

No more messy drawer

In our kitchen we have a drawer where everything ends up eventually. Whenever the drawer gets jammed because it is too full it is time to tidy up.

In order to subdivide the drawer I have saved some plastic boxes, cut-off bottom halves of empty milk cartons and - biggest find of all - the inside of last year's advent calendars.

With this neat system in place I hope that at least one more year will pass before I need to tidy up again.

Mittwoch, 11. Januar 2012


I hate mending socks - and children's tights in this case. But I am equally unhappy about just throwing them away. So I tried out something new. First I cut off the damaged bit of the tights. Then I cleaned up the edge on the sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch. Finally I decorated the edge with stretchy lace. When summer comes, these will look great with a mini skirt.

Dienstag, 10. Januar 2012

Leg warmers

To go with my newly patched up jeans I decided to make myself some leg warmers. I still had a grey cardigan, which I had picked up at a flea market with the plan to make a cover for a hot water bottle. Well, the hot water bottle I might still make in the next few days, but in the meantime I decided to use the arms of the cardigan for some leg warmers.

I cut them off at the maximum length and made them a bit tighter to fit my legs. I then cleaned up the top edge with my sewing machine and stitched some stretchy ribbon too it to make it look less grey and more fun.

Montag, 9. Januar 2012

Make do and mend

Which part of your jeans wears out first? For kids it's definetely the knees, but it my case, it is the pocket, where I carry my mobile phone. For the longest time I have looked for a patch, which does not look too shabby or too cute, but couldn't find anything which I liked.

Yesterday I finally had the idea, to put an additional pocket on top of the worn-out spot. I used the back pocket of a seriously shredded pair of baby jeans for this purpose. I certainly like the result. And it is practical, too. Now my mobile phone gets an additional layer of protection, and I have gained a little pocket for storing my head phones.

What do you think? Let me know your Make-do-and-mend ideas!

Sonntag, 8. Januar 2012

More card board stars

When I took the paper garbage out, I discovered an empty Lebkuchen box with a nice print. Great material for more card board stars! At this rate I should have enough for next Christmas in no time.

What to do with all those Christmas cards?

Day 7 in the new year and I am still tidying up! Today I was faced with a (small) pile of Christmas cards, which are too nice to throw away, but too many to keep. Then I remembered a star-shaped hole-punch, which I had bought for the kids last year. It cuts out stars of about 5 cm diameter. Ideal for recycling Christmas cards.

After a few minutes of punching I now own a heap of colourful card board stars, which I will save for this year's Christmas decorations and gift wrappings.

Samstag, 7. Januar 2012

Recycling bins for our bathroom

Every year one of my new year resolutions is to become more tidy. It normally does not last long, but this year, I have at least started by improving our bathroom. 

We used to have one bin for all the bathroom waste. When it was full, I needed to take it downstairs to the kitchen, where all of our seperate recycling bins. Feeling passionate about recycling - I then had to sort the contents of the bathroom bin into the various recycling bins. Tedious work! Much better to have seperate bins in the bathroom to start with, which can then be taken to the main recycling bins individually. 

To find vessels of a suitable size, I talked to a friend of ours who runs a restaurant. He has plenty of large empty food cans, which normally go to waste. I bought some organic paints in a colour matching our bathroom and painted the empty food cans a pleasent turquoise. Then I searched for recycling logos on the internet and printed them out on stickers in the same colour. 

Now we have one bin for empty packaging (mainly plastic), one for paper and one for the remaining waste, which can sadly not be recycled.