Thursday, 3 May 2018

Create a Cheerful Craft Nook on a Budget! (Part One)


Like many of you, I pour over craft blogs and gaze longingly when they profile their work spaces. Such beautiful storage! Such beautiful lighting! But, how do you begin?

For years, that’s as far as I went. I didn’t set up my own work space because I thought that it would be too expensive nor did I have the time or the room. I didn’t even know where to start!

That all changed when I saw a profile of a sewing space that was simple yet functional on the British Tilly and the Buttons blog. It looked like a charming place to curl up with a tea and a project on a rainy afternoon.

When I flipped through the crafter’s blog, I realized that she and I had actually been neighbours! If she could make it happen in her space, then so could I. All I needed was the UK profile of an Edmonton blogger to help me realize it!


Photo: Karlene L.

Although my space is a work in progress, it brings me joy every time I see it. Using a small corner of the basement, I designed an inexpensive, functional and eco-conscious playground for creating and exploring - and you can too! Here’s how to start.

1) Find a workstation. Your workstation needs will vary depending on your crafting interests and the space you have available. If you’re into crochet and lettering, you’ll need less flat space than someone who quilts. If you have the luxury of setting up a full sewing room, you’ll have more space for tables than someone carving out the corner of a larger room.

Photo: Karlene L.

In my nook, my eco-friendly workstation is my mother-in-law’s beautifully re-purposed dining room table. The wood is solid, the construction is meticulous and it’s expandable with two additional leaves hidden under the table top. Look for similar vintage gems at thrift stores, garage sales, Find or the Ambleside and Kennedale Eco Station Reuse Areas.

2) Think about storage. If you’re a minimalist: well done, this part will be easier! If you’re more like me, less so. Having all of your craft supplies handy makes projects faster and far less frustrating. Less time finding bobbins means more time stitching.


Photo: Karlene L.

My main storage piece is a happy yellow IKEA KALLAX, which offers space for both storage and display and is a more environmentally sustainable version of the classic EXPEDIT. I also re-purposed a pink IKEA office storage unit from several years ago, which is fantastic for storing patterns and notions. For smaller items such as buttons and crochet hooks, I reused mason jars (from preserves that we had received as a gift) and old coffee mugs (like the one from the Ambleside Reuse Area on the right).

Check back next month for Part Two where we work on lighting and accessorizing our new spaces!



-Karlene (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

2018 Reuse Resolutions

Happy 2018! With another year, comes another list of resolutions. You may have committed to some resolutions that are still going strong, or your resolutions may already be nonexistent. In any case, there's still time to take action this year, especially with regards to reuse. Let's change our waste habits together in order to produce less waste in 2018. Who's up for the challenge?

To get started, here are some simple reuse resolutions that you could commit to this year.

1. Be a reuse champion in the kitchen

We often transport our food or store away leftovers in the fridge. These are great habits; yet, how can we make these habits even more sustainable? One way is to remove disposable packaging materials such as plastic wrap, plastic bags, disposable containers or any other 10 Disposables to Ditch from your Kitchen. You may not choose to eliminate them all at once, but removing one kitchen disposable at a time can decrease your waste. Then, add in reusable products such as reusable containers, reusable snack bags, reusable wrap or even just start reusing your yogurt containers.


Want to go one step further? Start bringing your reusable containers to restaurants and other events where there might be food. Package up your leftovers in reusable containers, while encouraging others to do the same next time.

2. Rethink the free swag

It can be hard to resist something that is free: lanyards, stress balls, pens, notebooks, magnets, buttons and other trinkets. You can accumulate a lot of free swag, but do you ever use it? Not always. It is definitely great to repurpose free furniture and eat free food, but maybe let's slow down on all the free swag. Stop to think -- will I use it? If not, leave it for someone else who might really need it.


3. Bring out the reusable grocery bags

How many times do you go shopping and forget to bring your reusable grocery bags? With more and more grocery stores charging a fee for plastic bags, it is also a cost savings solution to bring your own reusable bags. Stash them in your vehicle or hang them on your doorknob to grab them on your way out of the house. 

Want to go one step further? Invest in reusable produce bags or make your own DIY produce bags. Use them at the grocery store, instead of disposable plastic bags. Or just grab your produce, without a bag!

Source: Wellness Mama

4. Borrow instead of buy

As consumers, we are prone to buying new items whenever we see a need. It can sometimes be the easiest and simplest solution; yet, definitely not the most cost effective nor sustainable option. This year, before making a purchase, look at other lending option beforehand.


For example, head to an Edmonton Public Library to borrow books instead of buying new, check out Edmonton's Tool Library to rent tools for your next project or even reach out to a friend to borrow a dress for a special occasion. You would be surprised how many people are willing to lend out their things. Or you could even organize swaps in your community such as clothing swaps, baby item swaps or even tool swaps.

5. Box up those Reuse Centre donations

In order to reuse waste in your home this year, why not commit to the goal of bringing your accepted items to the Reuse Centre. To make this happen, find a box, label it, attach the Reuse Centre accepted items list and place it near your other waste containers (garbage, recycle, Eco Station).

One of the best ways to create a change of habit is to make a resolution simple and accessible, while also having a visual reminder. Therefore, the first step of creating a purposeful Reuse Centre donation box will get you on the right track. Need help sorting your waste? Don't forget about the WasteWise app which can help you learn what goes to the Reuse Centre and what goes to the other waste streams.
Source: CBC Edmonton

Have some other reuse resolution for 2018? Share them in the comments below!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

DIY Vision Boards: Making Your Dreams a Reality in 2018

Every December, nearly all of us make New Year's resolutions with the best of intentions - maybe you want to eat healthier and start exercising more, or get out of debt and start saving money. A new year means new possibilities and opportunities; but, by February most of us have already lost sight of our often lofty goals. Unfortunately, only 8% of us will stick to our New Year's resolutions and accomplish our goals by the end of the year.

How can we increase our chances of achieving our resolutions and stay focused on our goals all year long? Cue vision boards! Visualization techniques are incredibly powerful mind exercises that have been helping professional athletes increase performance for years. By creating a vision board that legitimizes your goals and aspirations, you create a sacred space for your hopes and dreams that will help keep you focused on your resolutions all year long.

Here at the Reuse Centre, we are always looking for ways to reduce our waste and lessen our impact on the environment. Follow the steps below and create your own vision board for 2018!

1. Set your goals before you start

Even before you pick up a thumbtack or a pair of scissors, take some time to focus on what you want to accomplish over the next year. Reflect on your achievements from 2017 and visualize the direction you'd like to go in 2018. What would you like to change about yourself? Are there areas in your life that you would like to improve? Successful vision boards focus not only on material things, but also how you want to feel. Once you have a clear vision, you can start building your board!

Source: Louise Gale

2. Choose a base and gather materials

There are so many amazing vision board ideas out there! A quick search on Pinterest will deliver endless ideas and possibilities for designing your board. You can choose to keep it simple and fluid with thumbtacks and a cork board, or you can create something more permanent with a specific flow of ideas on a poster board. Personally, I really like the designs that feature goals and aspirations radiating outward from a central point, but the choice is yours!

Source: Happy Soiree

Once you decide on an overall design or theme, start gathering your materials. The sky is the limit! You can include personal photos, inspirational quotes, daily mantras, magazine clippings, art or doodles you've created, bucket lists or literally anything else that speaks to you. Try to keep your visions as clear and concise as possible to help you stay on track. Here at the Reuse Centre, I used a variety of magazine cuttings, paper scraps and letter tiles to create the foundation for my vision board:


Laura's vision board in progress
Source: City of Edmonton

3. Make it your own!

After you've added the bulk of all of your goals and aspirations, feel free to add details to make your board come to life! Experiment with 3D elements and don't be afraid to use different colours, patterns or textures. I used a variety of materials found at the Reuse Centre, including calendar photos, burlap, artificial flowers, puzzle pieces, sequins and bottle caps to finish off my board:


Laura's vision board details
Source: City of Edmonton

4. Put it on display

After you've finished your board, place it in a visible area where you will interact with it every day. This could be your office at work, your room, your kitchen or anywhere else that you could use some inspiration. Take a few moments each day to focus on the goals you have laid out for yourself in order to keep your resolutions in check. Check out a few more examples, including my finished one!


Source: Instagram

Laura's finished vision board
Source: City of Edmonton

Want to make 2018 your best year? The Reuse Centre will be hosting a free DIY Vision Boards workshop on Saturday January 20, 2018. Drop-in anytime between 1-3pm to create your own board with repurposed and reusable materials.

Have you made your own vision board before? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

6 Recipes to "Reuse" your Holiday Dinner

One of the best parts about the holidays is all the gatherings and shared meals. I love a turkey dinner with all the fixings, but by the third day of turkey sandwiches for lunch after the holiday it gets a little old.

I hate to see good food go to waste so I make every effort to avoid throwing out my leftovers. Here are some quick and easy recipes to "reuse" those holiday leftovers.

Image source: Creme de la Crumb
Turkey Enchiladas
These healthy turkey enchiladas are a great way to use up leftover turkey while feeling like you're eating a brand new meal.

Check out the recipe at Creme de la Crumb.

Turkey Soup
The air is cold and the nights are long -- it's the perfect time of year to warm up with a hot bowl of soup.

Try Uproot Kitchen's turkey orzo soup, or for something a little heartier, creamy leftover turkey stew from The Goldilocks Kitchen.

Image source: The Cooking Jar
Mashed Potato Puffs
I admit that I haven't tried these yet, but these mashed potato puffs from The Cooking Jar look absolutely amazing. I might just have to make some extra mashed potatoes to try them out!

These look like they'd also work really well with sweet potatoes, beets, or any other mashed root vegetable.

Mashed Potato Rolls
Potatoes and bread rolls -- honestly how could that be a bad thing? Num's the Word's mashed potato rolls are a little bit more work than most of the other recipes in this list, but they're worth it!

Image source: The Recipe Critic
Hawaiian Fried Rice
You can't get much further from a cold and snowy winter day than sunny Hawaii. Toss rice, veggies, pineapple, and your leftover ham together for this "better than takeout" dish.

Get the recipe from The Recipe Critic.

Ham and Potato Cheddar Soup
Also from The Recipe Critic, this ham and potato cheddar soup will warm you from the inside out.

For a double leftover-busting whammy, you can substitute leftover roast potatoes or throw in any extra cooked veggies after you've cooked your soup.

What are your plans for finishing off those holiday leftovers? Share your favourite recipes in the comments!

- Sarah (Volunteer)

Friday, 22 December 2017

Tis' the Season for a Wasteless Christmas

The holiday season is in full swing as the Christmas carols are playing and the smell of gingerbread is in the air. There are many festivities to enjoy with an ample amount of food, decorations, gifts and more. Yet with the holiday season, comes more waste.

Did you know that the Edmonton Waste Management Centre receives increased volumes of waste over the holidays. Household waste doubles in the weeks following December 25. Now that's a lot of waste! We may love the holiday season, but how can we reduce our waste?

Here are some changes that you can make this holiday season to decrease your waste. Don't forget to share this information with your family and friends, so that we can all work together to reduce our holiday waste.

1. Waste-friendly gifts

Still need some last minute gift ideas? You may not have time to upcycle reusable materials into a unique gift; however, you can still give waste-friendly gifts that are easy and affordable. Why not give experiences such as movie tickets, attraction passes, workout classes, theatre tickets or a gift certificate for a dinner for two.

Source: Pixabay

Another option is to donate your time and skills as a gift. Maybe you can gift house renovations, a resume consultation, pet sitting or even child minding services.

2. Waste-smart gift wrapping

Source: Tree Hugger

Why not wrap your gifts using reusable materials. This can include scarves, tea towels, blankets, magazines, newspaper and more! Be creative in your wrapping by re-purposing materials to reduce wrapping waste this year.

3. Decorate for lasting memories 

If you are feeling crafty and have the time, making your own holiday decorations out of recycled materials is a great way to reuse. The Reuse Centre has plenty of materials to choose from. You can follow us on Facebook for some creative ideas.

If you don't have the time to create your own upcycled holiday decorations, try to buy quality decorations that will last from year to year. For low prices and a varied selection, visit the Reuse Centre.

Have any unwanted holiday decorations? Donate them to the Reuse Centre or a local charity.

In addition to seasonal decor, the Reuse Centre accepts artificial Christmas trees.

Did you know that the City collects natural Christmas trees? Pickup begins January 9, 2018. Visit edmonton.ca/christmastrees for more information.


4. Plan your festive feasts

The holidays are the time of year when we gather with friends and family to enjoy the best this season has to offer - Christmas dinner!

When planning your meal, check your cupboards before hitting the grocery store to avoid buying too much.

Plan to store and use your holiday leftovers. One way to deal with extra leftovers is to ask guests to bring their own container to take leftovers home.

Source: Bon appetit

Donating any unopened treats to a local charity is a great way to reduce food waste and support the community.

5. Waste sorting

Even if we make a conscious effort to reduce our waste, most of us usually have waste items for disposal after the holidays. It is important to put that waste in the right place, so it can be collected and processed properly.

If placed in the garbage, long, stringy things like Christmas lights can get tangled it the processing equipment at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, resulting in serious damage or even plant shut downs. These items, and anything with an electrical cord or battery, should go to your nearest Eco Station.


Source: Flickr

Another confusing item is wrapping paper. While plain wrapping paper can be placed in your blue bag, foil wrapping paper cannot be recycled. Metallic/foil wrapping paper goes in the garbage, or if the pieces are in good condition, bring them to the Reuse Centre! 

To learn more about what goes where, download the WasteWise app or visit edmonton.ca/wastelessholidays

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Reuse Centre Holiday Contest

Get in the holiday spirit by upcycling reusable items into festive creations! We are hosting a holiday contest at the Reuse Centre from December 1-20, 2017. Check out the details below.

Enter to win an exclusive 2 hour crafting workshop for up to 20 adults or children (min 6 years) at the Reuse Centre. All materials included, plus some treats.




Ready to enter?

1. Snap a before photo of your reusable items.
2. Upcycle your reusable items into holiday d├ęcor, Christmas presents, advent calendars or other festive creations.
3. Take an after photo of your holiday creation.
4. Send your before and after photos to reusecentre@edmonton.ca or drop off copies in person at the Reuse Centre.
5. All entries will be entered into the draw. The winner will be notified on December 21, 2017 by phone and email.

The contest runs from December 1-20, 2017. All entries must be received by 11:59pm(MT) on December 20, 2017.

Please see the official contest entry rules for more information.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Makeup Palette Upcycle

What can you do with all your expired makeup palettes? Let's admit that the amount of makeup product that is expired or that you may not use, can be a bit excessive. A friend recently gave me a great idea which I have adapted to make more versatile. Her suggestion was to use nail polish to upcycle your old palettes, so that kids can play dress-up with "makeup" which won't make a mess. It's an easy task:

1. Use a pointy or sharp object to dig out and remove the expired makeup. Alternatively, you could also wait until your palette is empty.
2. Clean out the trays with rubbing alcohol and let dry.
3. Pour a small amount of nail polish in different colours into each section.
4. Let it thoroughly dry.
5. Add a clean foam brush.
6. Give it to your child!

Photo: Ellen Hanna
Play makeup palette. Photo: Ellen Hanna
Added bonus: a super neat design on the front. Photo: Ellen Hanna
Another option is to use acrylic paint. Since my son had no interest in pretending to paint colours on his face (he's much more effective with his actual markers), he used the different colours as buttons. He calls the palette his "com" for communicator that talks to people like a walkie-talkie: issuing and receiving commands and addressing emergencies. Yet, my daughter uses it as a smartphone. She particularly loves the mirror and pretends to talk to "dada" (she is one and a half).
A secret compartment reveals an emergency button linked directly to the fire department or something.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
We added a smiley face directly on the mirror to remind my son to SMILE!
Photo: Ellen Hanna
I painted buttons since this compact didn't have individual wells.
Photo: Ellen Hanna
This is a great upcycling idea if you cannot recycle your compacts and palettes directly with the manufacturer. The uses are only bound by the creativity of your kids, so the sky's the limit!

And a fun little coincidence is that whatever pattern you paint onto the mirror will cast a fun reflection when playing with light.
Photo: Ellen Hanna