Thursday, 26 December 2013

Reuse tips to get you from Christmas to New Year

It's that time again - the season of peace, love, and the spirit of giving.  Unfortunately, it's also the season of increased waste and energy consumption.  Sometimes we get a little carried away during the holidays, but there are a few simple things that we can all do to make sure this season is merry and bright.

1) Whether it's after Christmas breakfast and you're heading out to visit family and friends, or it's Boxing Day and you're about to brave the shopping malls, remember to unplug your tree! The increased power usage for Christmas lighting is the equivalent of adding 300,000 homes to the province, just over the holiday season.  So do your part to lighten the strain, and don't light up your tree unless you're around to enjoy it.

2) My fellow volunteer, Michelle, gave us some great ideas for non-traditional ways to wrap our Christmas gifts. But the fact is no matter which way they're wrapped, once those gifts are opened you've got a mess of paper to deal with. My family typically recycles our used wrapping paper, but if I can find nice pieces without tape or crinkles I like to keep them to cover books and such. There are other creative ways that your Christmas wrapping can be reused, like origami tree ornaments or d├ęcoupage.

3) You will always find a very small Christmas celebration at my house, but we always cook an absurd amount of food. What to do with the leftovers? How many days in a row can we choke down turkey sandwiches (not many)? Websites like "Love Food Hate Waste" offer great tips on how to get from Christmas to New Year by making the most of your leftovers and what's left of your spending money.

4) Finally, one of the best things you can do this Christmas is recycle your tree! Edmonton Waste Management has been picking up our Christmas trees from single-family residences, Eco Stations and Recycling Depots since 1990 for chipping and composting. Your old tree can help new trees and plants grow, and help keep our city beautiful.

Wishing you all a merry and reusable Christmas,

Nichole (Volunteer)

Friday, 20 December 2013

It's a WRAP!

My supply box
Instead of spending a load of money on gift wrap, how about use common items around your home?  Here I will show you a few new ways to wrap presents for your family and friends this Christmas, using items you can find at the Reuse Centre or around your home.

Here is the list of the supplies I used:
  • Foam/decorative tape
  • Decorative paper
  • Scissors
  • Old shopping bags
  • Tissue paper
  • Brown/white paper
  • Used boxes
  • Old magazines
Double sided tape

Idea #1
Paint swatches make great gift tags.  You can also visit Rona, Home Depot or even Walmart to find them. I used paint swatches in shades of green and brown. I cut them up like Christmas trees. You can hole punch one end and add a ribbon or use a safety pin.  My friends were not surprised with my choice to use paint swatches as an element in gift wrapping since I have a thing for interior design!
My Christmas tree gift tags
Idea #2
I keep all of my shopping bags, especially the recyclable and paper ones to reuse. I like to add  a cute bow or gift tag to reuse them as gift bags. Here is what I have created:

To create the bow, I used five layers of tissue paper and a rubber band.  I folded the sheets back and fourth to create a strip and then tied it with the rubber band in the middle. I cut both ends kind of like petals. Put it on its side and start puffing the edges and pulling the layers of paper towards the middle. I then used double sided tape to attach it to the bag.

A pretty, bright bow!
The final product! 

Idea #3
A neat way to get kids to help out is if you ask them to paint onto plain paper, and then use that as wrapping paper. It is also a way to personalize a gift. Using my finger, I dotted different colours onto a large white piece of paper I found at the Reuse Centre. I doodled the wires on with a sharpie to create a Christmas light design.
Painted dots

Sharpie lines between dots

You almost don't want to open it!

I enjoy doodling so much that I created some other designs. It's a great way to personalize a gift for any season.

Idea #4
I use the pages from old books, maps and magazines like scrapbook paper. Another idea for using old magazines is that you can try a weaving design.  I did this by cutting out pages from magazines and then cutting them into strips. Begin to wrap more than one strips around the gift in one orientation. Next, take one strip and weave it over and under perpendicular to the strip that are already wrapped around the gift. It looks quite neat with more layers. As I was doing this I think I was purposely trying to make this gift difficult for my sister to open. Oops!

Supplies needed

Weaved gift wrap

Here are some other ideas that I found on the web that I did not get to try out.
  1. Newsprint flowers from Brit + co..
  2. How to make a gift bag from Craft and Creativity.
  3. Wrap Party from Design Love Fest.
  4. Cute DIY Gift Wrapping video from Michelle Phan.
These ideas and gift-wrapping techniques are great for any gift-giving occasion, not just Christmas.  Have you tried any? Comment or leave a picture on our Facebook page. I would love to see your creation!
-Michelle (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Reuse Filled Christmas!

I love Christmas. Spending time with my family and friends means a lot to me. But as most of us know, the Christmas season is also a time of increased spending and waste production. But how much extra waste can actually come from one single day? I decided to do a bit of research, and found that in the two weeks after Christmas in 2012, the city of Edmonton collected 12 793 tonnes of waste and recyclables, compared to 5 666 the two weeks before. That’s over double the amount of waste! So I decided that this year I would try to reduce my impact on the environment, while also making creative and thoughtful presents and maybe even saving a buck or two.
I began my shopping (of course) at the Reuse Centre! What better way to reduce your impact than buying items that are in need of a second home? There I found all sorts of useful things, such as wine corks, frozen juice lids, Christmas cards, ribbon, puzzle pieces, paint and everything else I needed to make a list of meaningful Christmas gifts.
From here, I got to go nuts! Making your own Christmas presents means that the sky is the limit. You can go as far as your creativity is willing to take you! Here are a few ideas that I came up with:

This is a Christmas ornament is made from a frozen juice lid, a Christmas card, lace and sequins, all found at the Reuse Centre. I made a few different ones with different images, this one of a cardinal as well as Santa and a snowman. The craft was adapted from one I found on the Mrs.T's Christmas Kitchen blog.

This is a Christmas wreath made of a straw wreath frame, wine corks, ribbon and a bow. It was incredibly easy and great for the wine lover of the family! There's a step by step how-to instruction guide on the Save on Crafts blog.

This Christmas ornament is made from the other half of the card I used for the juice lid ornaments, puzzle pieces and paint. I made a craft like this as a kid, and I thought it would be nice to relive the memory! If you would like some direction, there is a nice tutorial on Lisa's Craft Blog.

These are just a few ideas of what you can do with the items found at the Reuse Centre, or any that you have saved for crafts. Next up are star shaped wall decorations made of magazines!
Not only did these gifts reduce my impact on the environment, but I have also spent a fraction of what I normally would on Christmas gifts (under $20 for all of these items and more!), and I have made presents that are unique and special to each one of my friends and family members. I am by no means an overly crafty or creative person, so if I can do this, anyone can! Where will your reuse filled Christmas take you?

- Leigh-Anna (Staff) is a program specialist for the City of Edmonton Waste Management Services and a Reuse Centre aficionado.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Glitter Houses, reuse-centre style

Glitter houses (sometimes referred to 'putz' houses) are an old decorating favourite around Christmas time. Nowadays, the store bought ones are made of various products, but in early to mid- 20th century, glitter houses were made of cardboard and mostly imported from Japan. The trend nowadays is to replicate these little houses, experimenting with modern materials to create the look and feel of the originals.  

Our blogger group got together a few weeks ago, holiday treats in hand,  to see what reusable materials we could use to make these vintage holiday favourites, and we had a whale of a time.

It was three hours of fun! We ate lots of delicious sugary homemade treats, and cut, pasted and sprinkled our way to glitter house glory.

We got our template for the glitter houses from (we used Cottage Plan 1). It specifies quite a few supplies to make glitter houses, but we were a bit informal and used what we had access to. This strategy seemed to work just fine! However, if you would like more specific instructions, check out this blog post on the Christmas Notebook blog.

What we used:
  • used Christmas gift cards
  • copious amounts of glitter
  • various kinds of glue (glue guns, glue sticks and white glue)
  • various crafty embellishments (e.g. puff balls, pipe cleaners, lace, fabric)
  • thick cardboard (for the house foundation)

Emma impressed us with her skills opening the glue bottle

then we ate some delicious treats 

Then we got down to business! 

The creativity was flowing

Viola! Michelle shows off her creation

Emma made some smokey smoke stacks

A close up of the glittery houses

Sarah's wintery scene

A penguin watches over Lana's little village
Glitter houses are fun, cheap and a great idea for reusing those items that can be found around the house and turn them into charming holiday display items that can be reused for years to come. Add a dessert potluck to make a party of it!

We've displayed our glitter houses at the Reuse Centre so stop by to have a look!

- Hayley (Staff)

Monday, 9 December 2013

Recycled Advent Garland

Advent calendars made the countdown to the big day so special when I was little, each tantalising perforated door opening and the chocolatey goodness inside, just a little hint of the sugar induced mayhem that was to follow on Christmas day.

I still love Advent calendars today but now I prefer a much less sugary and waste free celebration of the countdown to Christmas for our family.

This is a calendar that can be used every year. It's made completely from either thrifted or Reuse Centre fabric and cardboard from cereal boxes. There are 24 little bags, each with an embroidered number, that have to be hung in order so putting it together is an event in itself!

Instead of chocolate, I slip a little gold ticket (reusable the following year) into each of the bags with a special seasonal treat to share with the family here are a few ideas:

* Have hot chocolate with marshmallows

* Christmas lights tour (A pyjama clad, chauffeur driven, tour of our local areas lights, complete with a sippy cup of warm milk, a blanket and a favourite toy to enjoy the ride)

* Make salt dough Christmas decorations

* Write a letter to Santa

* Popcorn and a Christmas movie

* Drink some hot apple cider (or for little ones, warm apple juice with cinnamon)

I like to think it adds something to our Christmas experience to have these little planned events to enjoy every day.

This was a simple sewing and paper project that can get the whole family involved, from choosing fabrics and sewing and embroidering the treat bags, to tracing and cutting stars to finally hanging 24 plump little bags. I popped some stuffing into each bag so they look a little more inviting.

Inspired to make your own?, it's never too late (just think, you are a year early for 2014 holiday season!)
Making a 3D 5 point star is easy using this free printable template, just print once, tape to card then use the card as a template for the other stars: Craft Ideas 5 point star template.

Make your own drawstring bags following this tutorial - Super Easy Drawstring Bag Tutorial  (Simply adjust the size as required).

If you have made your own reusable advent calendar or even a perpetual month by month calendar we would love to see it. Please share below!

- Emma (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Holiday Decor Galore at the Reuse Centre

This blog is going to take a distinctively holiday air in the next month. We will be posting holiday crafting ideas, highlighting the holiday items that you can get at the Reuse Centre, and sharing our tips on how to reduce waste at Christmas.

You may not know this, but the Reuse Centre is the holiday hub in Edmonton. We've got a huge stock of all things Christmasey.  You can find everything from decorations, to greeting cards, to the star for the top of your tree. Other items you can find include wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags, decorations galore, bows, ribbon, artificial trees, and gifts.

We took a few pictures of some of the items that can be found at the Reuse Centre (*note that our stock changes constantly, and it's first come first served.). Scroll down and have a look at what we have to offer!

We have lots of new Christmas cards! 
Various decorations 
Stars for the top of your tree
Christmas tree decorations
We even have a few artificial trees up for grabs - but careful, they go fast!

Maybe you just want to curl up and read a book by the fireplace when the snow is swirling outside. Stock up on books, movies and music for the holidays at the Reuse Centre too.   

Lots of books for holiday reading!

Stay tuned for some great holiday posts coming up in the next few weeks. In the meantime, share your favourite way to Reuse during the holidays with us below, and we'll add it to our upcoming post on tips to reduce your waste during the holidays. 

- Hayley (Staff)