Friday, 31 May 2019

‘Recipes’ to Reuse Packaging - Part 1

I recently had a chat with someone who wondered how useful the Reuse Centre is to a person who "doesn’t craft”. It's an honest question from a conscientious person and one that I simply had to share because reuse is for EVERYONE! 

        So, if you...
a) DO NOT know how or lack the equipment or time to sew - "There was no Home Economics class at my high school. "
b) Get anxious at the thought of pulling out a glue gun - "I’ve burnt my fingers too many times to count!"
c) Have more DIY disasters than successes - I’ll save these for future posts๐Ÿ˜
d) All of the above
     ...Then look no further! 

Courtesy of Giphy

Craft skills are NOT needed to reuse packages for their original purpose; we save valuable resources from travelling to a landfill or piling up at a recycling facility when we use them again in our own home. 

Step 1:
Next time you finish with a laundry soap bottle and are ready to put it in the recycle - STOP! Instead, keep it to refill with some homemade laundry soap!

Step 2:
Gather these 3 easy-to-find and reasonably-priced ingredients from your local grocer. A Sunlight soap bar (or natural alternative, if preferred), Borax, and Washing Soda.

BONUS: Take the Environment Week challenge and bike or walk to get these ingredients!

Step 3: 
Follow the recipe below to cook up some fresh-smelling laundry soap that does triple duty: it saves your socks from stinking, saves money, and is an easy way to reduce excessive packaging waste.

 One batch filled 4 bottles (more than 8L of soap)! 

Here is the recipe:

Other craft-free ways to reuse plastic packages:
  • Mesh bags from produce can be reused to buy your bulk produce items next time you're shopping. Visit us at Reuse Centre if you need some.

Simply cross out UPC codes and put them in your reusable grocery bag to have handy for next time you buy bulk produce items - no need for film plastic.
Want to read more about an effort to Reuse packaging?  Loop is partnering with some large companies to sell their products in refillable containers.

So you see, Reuse is for EVERYONE and the Reuse Centre has practical items that are ready to be reused by you, no glue gun nor glitter required! We would love to hear your " recipes " for refilling containers and ideas to reuse packaging in the comments section below.

Photos and Submission by Andrea (Staff)

Friday, 8 February 2019

DIY Valentine's Decor

Valentine's Day is next week! Thursday, February 14th, in case you need a reminder of the date ๐Ÿ˜‰ I always find that Valentine's Day sneaks up on me and I'm usually scrambling to put some kind of decoration up to celebrate the day. It must be that I still haven't come out of the fog of the holiday season and the start of a new year. It could also be that it's the middle of winter and I'm in hibernation mode. This year is no different and the extremely cold weather that we've been experiencing over the past couple of weeks hasn't helped. Luckily for me, I found these really quick DIY projects that have inspired me to get crafting and get into the Valentine's Day spirit.

Photo Credit: moneyhipmamas

This is a simple and pretty way to add some Valentine's spirit to your home. All you need is a vase, some branches or twigs, and paper and glue. You can customize your bouquet by using different colored or textured paper or adding some ribbon and bows to your branches. Check out the full tutorial details at moneyhipmamas.

Photo Credit: iheartnaptime

This is another example of a very quick DIY project. All you need is an old frame, paper, and markers, crayons, or lipstick, which is what was used for this example. Don't have an old frame at home? Don't worry the Reuse Centre carries lots of frames, in a variety of colors and sizes. Check out iheartnaptime for full instructions.

Raid your craft supplies to make this heart art for Valentine's Day or year-round! ||
Photo Credit: designimprovised

The final project that I found are these cute custom heart canvases. All you'll need are some blank canvases, pom poms, doilies, foam pieces, scrap paper, and glue. The different colors and textures are so appealing. The beauty of this project is that you can use anything on hand to create your patterns or designs. You could use buttons, puzzle pieces, or yarn to create hearts or spell out LOVE. Basically, whatever you're feeling inspired to create! Full instructions can be found at designimprovised.

I'm feeling pretty excited about getting started on making these projects and getting them up in my home this weekend! If you're still looking for something fun to do on Valentine's Day check out the details for the Reuse Centre's Valentine's Day date night workshop.

Vanessa (Staff)

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Reuse Resolutions

It's 2019 - have you made a list of resolutions for the new year? If you have, great job! If you're still looking for ideas about how you can resolve to live with less waste this year we're happy to help. Check out this list of Reuse Resolutions for inspiration:

1. Reduce Food Waste
  • Try growing your own food. There are a multitude of ways that you can grow food from food scraps such as green onions, potatoes, celery, lettuce, the list goes on!
  • Meal plan so you buy only what you need.
  • Buy in bulk and create individual servings at home with reusable containers.
  • Create a "use me first" shelf or box in your fridge or pantry.
  • If you have an unopened item you know you won't consume before it will expire, donate it to a local food bank or charity.
Photo by Del Barrett 
2. Choose Reusable
  • Try to find a reusable option for the single-use plastic item you use the most. This could be a reusable coffee mug, reusable shopping bag, cloth produce bags, steel straws, reusable paper towels, etc.
  • Create an emergency reusable kit to keep in your car or bag in the event you forgot your reusable item at home. Add a reusable cup, food container, water bottle, shopping bag and cutlery, and you'll be ready for most situations!
    Photo by Goran Ivos
3. Try a No-Buy Week
  • For one week commit to buying nothing (other than food).
  • If one week was easy, try and increase it to 2 weeks.
  • Before you make a purchase, ask yourself first if you could borrow or buy this item secondhand?
4. Make a Waste Log
  • Write down all the items you put into the trash and see if there are any "repeat offenders" for one week. From there try and find a reusable or recyclable alternative for the most common items you throw away.
5. Reduce Energy Consumption
  • Replace burnt out incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs to reduce energy consumption. You will also need to replace bulbs less often, which means less waste.
    • Don't forget to bring your old light bulbs to your nearest Eco Station.
  • Need a new thermostat? Look into "smart" thermostats that lower energy usage by learning your habits and saving you energy and money when no one is home.
  • Unplug electronics that aren’t in use or use a power bar to turn off items when not in use. Many appliances use energy to power appliance features such as display lights.
Photo by Glen Carrie

6. Think about adding a 4th R to your waste hierarchy: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  • Say no to single use plastics
  • Refuse junk mail in your mailbox
  • Opt out of unwanted mail and mailing lists

Saturday, 22 December 2018

10 Waste-Less Gift Wrapping Ideas

You've read our previous post and have made the choice to do some waste-less gift giving this year, wonderful! However, there is still the sticky point of wrapping those gifts. In addition to the waste created from product packaging, there is also waste created from gift wrapping. Luckily, we are here with some great waste-less gift wrapping ideas for you!

1. Wrap with fabric

Wrap your gift in a tea towel, reusable bag, tablecloth, doily, scarf, belt or bandanna. The fabric can also double as a gift. You can also use scrap fabric leftovers from other projects or find some at the Reuse Centre or a local thrift store.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska

2. Basket or a container

A basket or reused container can also form part of the present and can make a gift look lovely. You can add recycled paper and tie it together with a bow. We have many different baskets and tins available at the Reuse Centre for a one-stop shop!

3. Newspaper or other reused paper

Look around, and you'll likely find an assortment of paper waiting to be recycled. Your recyclable paper can be used in the traditional way to wrap gifts, then add any decorative touches you want. If you have a traveler in your family, a paper map makes for great wrapping!

4. Recycled brown paper

This can be a great option if you're looking for something more traditional because it's made from recycled products already and can be recycled again. The neutral colour and plain pattern means you can make it as festive in any style you want. Try adding some ribbon or lace to the bag. Using decorative stamps would also work well on the plain paper.

Photo by Samuel Holt

5. Wooden ornaments as gift tags

This is yet another wrapping item that doubles as a gift. Finding locally made wooden ornaments or even just cutting some fallen branches into small segments can make for a unique and thoughtful gift after the unwrapping is done.

6. Foraged greenery

On your next winter walk, look down and see if there are some pine branches or pine cones that have fallen from a tree. This greenery can add some festive cheer to your gift wrapping and the items can be composted or left in your yard to decompose naturally after you're finished with it.

Photo by Caley Dimmock

7. Make your own bows

If you have some old magazines laying around they can be turned into beautiful gift bows! The only thing you need for this is the magazine and some double sided tape or a glue gun.

9. Old Christmas cards

Cutting used Christmas cards into fun shapes creates instant gift tags! The Reuse Centre has a number of used cards available, if you don't have any at home.

10. Make your own gift box

Maybe you need a gift box but don't have anything other than some cereal boxes on hand? This post from Instuctables will help you make a gift box out of a cereal box. You don't need anything more than scissors, a cereal box, and a glue gun!

Let these ideas inspire you to wrap those presents without giving the gift of excess waste.  Have other innovative wrapping ideas? Share them in the comments below!

- Krista (Staff)

Monday, 17 December 2018

Festive and Holiday Vase Decor

The Reuse Centre recently hosted a drop-in crafting activity where participants made Winter Scene Tealight Holders. The pieces of art that were created during this session were stunning, and we just couldn't resist sharing them with you.

Most participants opted to stick to the original project, and designed their own tealight holders using decorative beads and ribbon but there were a few people who thought outside the box and used their vase/candle holder to create beautiful winter and holiday scenes, sans tealight. Here were some of the creations.

Photo Credit: Tessa M.

Photo Credit: Tessa M.

 Photo Credit: Vanessa

Photo Credit: Vanessa

Want to create your own festive vase for this holiday season? Here's a quick tutorial to get you started. One added bonus, all of these items are available at the Reuse Centre.

  • Glass vase, candle holder, or other type of glass jar
  • Table salt
  • Small holiday or winter figurines and ornaments
  • Artificial greenery or floral type material 
  • Ribbon 
  • Glue gun and glue sticks 
  • Any other accoutrements that you like (i.e. sequins, bells, glitter, beads etc.)


1. Ensure that your vase or container is clean. Once you start to add items, it will be difficult to wipe off dust or fingerprints.

2. Fill the bottom of your container with salt. A 1-2 inch layer should be enough, but you can add more or less, depending on how much "snow" you want in your scene.

3. Once you've added your "snow", start creating your winter/holiday scene. I'd recommend placing larger items in first and then working the smaller items around them. Try experimenting by adding some glitter to your snow. And don't be afraid to trim down your artificial greenery and floral material to create little trees or shrubs. A great part of this project is that you can put items in and take them out relatively easily, so you can create exactly what you're envisioning.

4. When you've finished creating your scene inside of your container, try adding some ribbon or other items to the outside of your container. Just a word of caution, adding too much to the outside may make it difficult to see your scene on the inside. Pay attention to what your scene looks like from eye level and not just the top.

Taaa-Daaah! You're all finished!

Interested in attending our next crafting session? Be sure to follow us on Facebook to find out about any upcoming drop-in crafting activities and workshops.

- Vanessa (Staff)

Friday, 7 December 2018

Waste-Less Gift Guide

The holiday season is upon us, snow is on the ground and lights are on the houses. It's a wonderful time of year to show people what they mean to us. The holiday season is also a time of year that we create a lot of waste. The Edmonton Waste Management Centre sees twice as much waste in the last weeks of December compared to all other weeks in winter.

Here are some gift ideas to show how much you care, while also minimizing your waste this holiday season! Share these ideas with your family and friends too and we can all have a "green" Christmas!

1. Give experiences instead of things

This could be tickets to sporting events, movie tickets, attraction passes or classes. In a study on the Science of Happiness, Cornell University's Dr. Thomas Gilovich determined that we get longer term happiness from experiences over material possessions. By giving the gift of an experience to your loved ones you are not only reducing waste but giving more lasting happiness. A win-win in our book!

Photo Credit: City of Edmonton

2. Gift cards

These could be gift cards to stores you know the person loves, or gift cards for an experience that a person may not buy for themselves, such as a massage or a spa day. Purchasing a gift card helps to remove the risk of someone getting an item that they may not use and may end up in landfill.

Photo Credit: City of Edmonton

3. Re-gift or give pre-loved items

We need to remove the stigma around re-gifting or giving previously loved items. Second hand stores and buy and sell sites offer many interesting and unique gifts that still have a lot of life in them. Giving these items is a great way to reduce your environmental impact this season. It also helps support local charities and businesses. The important thing to keep in mind, much like all gift giving is to match the item to the recipient and make sure it's something they would want and use.

4. Handmade Items

Gifting something homemade is a great way to show you care because you took the time and effort to create this one-of-a-kind gift. There are a number of things you can make, such as bath products, kitchen seasonings and spice mixes, children's toys, home decor, the list goes on! Bonus points if the packaging is reusable or second hand. If you're searching for some inspiration, we have a number of ideas on our Pinterest page!

Photo Credit: One Good Thing

5. Charitable Donations

Some people on your list may say they don't want anything. This can be a tricky situation, since you may still want to acknowledge them at this time of year. A donation to a meaningful charitable organization is a great way to let someone know that you care while still respecting their wishes.

Hopefully, this list will give you some inspiration to give green and save green this holiday season! Stay tuned for our Waste-Less Gift Wrapping post.

- Krista (Staff)

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

DIY Tea Cup Candles

I was recently enlisted to help plan a bridal shower and the theme was a high tea party. As with most parties, I wanted to provide some kind of favour or keepsake to thank guests for attending.

I've seen tea cup candles in stores and craft fairs over the last few years and always thought they were pretty. When it came time to come up with an idea of what I could give guests I thought, why not try to create my own tea cup candle. It turns out, that they're pretty easy to make. I was able to find almost all my supplies at the Reuse Centre. The only thing that I couldn't find there was a tea cup, but I manged to find one at a local Goodwill store. Yay! A 100% reused project.

  • Wax (any of these will work): old candles in similar colours, with wicks removed; paraffin wax; beeswax; soy wax
  • Ceramic/porcelain/china tea cups
  • Candle wicks with metal base
  • Skewers
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Small metal coffee can  
  • Pot 
  • Water
  • Oven mitts or other heat resistant gloves


1. Chop your old candles or wax that you're using into small bits. This will make it easier and quicker to melt the wax.

2. Place your chopped up wax in your metal coffee can.

3. Submerse the can in a pot of water. The water should be about halfway up the side of the coffee can. Start to heat the water on medium heat. The water should be hot but not boiling. Occasionally stir the wax as it melts.

4. While your wax is melting, prepare your tea cups. Place one wick in each cup with the metal base resting at the bottom of the cup.

5. Place your skewer, perpendicular, on top of the tea cup and rest the excess wick on top of it. This will ensure that the wick stays upright when you pour the wax in.

6. Once the wax is fully melted, remove the pot from the heat and carefully remove the coffee can from the water using your oven mitts/gloves.

7. Pour the melted wax into each tea cup about 3/4 full. Adjust the wick, if needed, to ensure that it is upright and straight.

8. Allow the wax to completely cool, remove the skewer, and trim the wick to about 2cm above the wax.

Presto! You have a cute tea cup candle.

The guests loved the candles and an added bonus of creating them was that they doubled as decor during the party. These candles would also make a great gift for lots of other occasions. Happy crafting!

- Vanessa (Staff)
All Photos provided by Vanessa