Tuesday, 30 June 2015

June Reuse-it Item: Home Décor

The Reuse Centre takes a wide variety of Home Décor items including carpet samples, tiles and paint swatches. Our bloggers have compiled some fun and easy ways to reuse these items to brighten up your home!

For reusing carpet scraps, there are many cool DIY doormats you can do that are relatively simple - check out this unique one out with this full tutorial.
Source: Creative "Try" als
Essentially, it just requires some washing and cleaning, some cutting, and latex paint. You can paint your own pattern on, or if you're in need of inspiration, check out more ideas for different patterns courtesy of JenTaterTots. Guests will enjoy these interesting doormats being the first thing they see when they come visit you!

Tabletops get a lot of abuse from cold dripping drinks and hot serving dishes. A little protection from a coaster or trivet can make all the difference and you can make one from leftover (or Reuse Centre) tiles. It can be as simple as attaching cork, felt or rubber pads to the bottom of one tile (like Tanya at Dans le Lakehouse or creating a mosaic and special wooden frame (à la Mandy of Sugar Bee Crafts or xNerdiusMaximusx. Either way, your tables are saved!
Source: Dans le Lakehouse
The Reuse Centre gets so many tiles of all different colours, shapes, and sizes, but rarely enough at a time to complete a major project. If a mismatched backsplash isn't your thing, why not try making ceramic tile coasters? They make great gifts! You can pick up some plain tiles, and customize them any way you like, with scrapbook paper, photos, paint or stickers. It's just a bonus that all of these decorating materials can also be found at the Reuse Centre! Check out this tutorial at Homemade Gifts Made Easy for instructions and lots of great photos for inspiration!

Sometimes tile samples can be reused and still maintain their original function. Whilst it's unlikely to find enough tile samples to finish your own kitchen floor, small projects are a great fit for using them. I found some rainbow coloured tile samples in amongst other colours and thought they would be perfect for decorating a dollshouse for my little girl.
Source: Ruby Murray Musings 
I cut them into quarters, making them 1.5" square and used them to tile the kitchen floor, I alternated colours and made them in a rainbow colour scheme. I even grouted them so they'll stay the course.

I can't decide if this craft idea is super obvious or super genius, but I kind of love the idea of patching together an area rug from a large collection of carpet samples. I saw examples of these kinds of rugs that were a delightful mess of colour and texture, but the project I liked the best (from ColOrs-Of-ReUsing) showcases a colour gradient from dark to light that looks surprisingly flawless for being made from tiny carpet scraps. You could use carpet samples to make any size rug, and either sew the patches together or join them with good quality fabric tape.

Source: Colors of Reusing

- Reuse Centre Volunteers

Monday, 22 June 2015

Grocery Shopping, the Reuse Way

Are you looking for a way to reduce your environmental impact? Choosing to reuse more in your day to day life is a simple step that anyone can accomplish!

Buying food is something we all have to do, but modern shopping can be quite wasteful. Here are some reuse tips to make your next trip to the grocery store a little more environmentally friendly!

Reusable shopping bags or baskets

No-sew shopping bag from
Keep a stock of reusable bags or shopping baskets by your front door or in your car, so that you're never without a bag! This is one of the easiest and most common way that people reuse while grocery shopping.

Making your own bags from fabric scraps or old t-shirts are great ways to reuse. Check out this no-sew t-shirt bag tutorial, fit for even the non-craftiest readers!

You don't have to limit your reusable bags to the grocery store either. Take them anywhere you might buy something!

Reusable produce bags

Most of us wash our produce, so I say if you've only got one or two apples, why even bother with the produce bag? This is especially true for items where you won't be eating the peel, like bananas, oranges, or onions. 

If you do need a bag, mesh produce bags are so light that they won't influence the scale price of price-by-weight items. You can buy them from a lot of places, or make your own in just a few minutes with this tutorial from The Year of Less.

Buying in bulk 

Some chains and many independent stores like Earth's General Store here in Edmonton, encourage patrons to bring their own reusable containers from home, instead of using new disposable bags and containers.

Many stores don't allow reusable containers so make sure to check with staff first. Stores with gravity fed bins like the photo are more likely to be reuse-friendly because you can't put food back after taking it. This is a win for the environment, plus you can "accidentally" put too many Smarties in your bag.

Oops, too many Smarties in the bag again.
 Guess I have to buy them!
Photo credit yvetteSoler
Many bulk foods can be brought home in your own mesh produce bags (nuts, candies, etc.). They're a little harder to find, but you can also buy (or make!) reusable bags out of nylon for small or powdery items like flour or soup base. Just throw them in the wash in between uses to prevent mixing salt into your sugar!

Did you know that you can also buy a lot of household products in bulk? Shampoo, laundry detergent, liquid soap, and household cleaners are just some of the things that can be bought and stored in your own reusable containers.

These are just a few simple ways to reuse when you're grocery shopping, but there are so many more everyday ways to reuse. Share your expert tips and tricks in the comments!

- Sarah (Volunteer)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

My Favourite Reuse project - Emma

Upholstery,  after pic, Transformers

As an avid reuse crafter, my home is filled with all sorts of fun recycled accessories, Blanket made from felted sweaters? Check. Mardi Gras bead chandelier? Ottoman from old jeans? Done and done. Every room has something handmade.

I do love to make something out of nothing, but when it comes to furniture I need a little helping hand, so I am always on the look out for furniture with great bones but needing a little injection of personality.

Cue my son's old nursery chair, he's now 6 and needing a more grown up addition to his room. With scratchy fabric, unpadded arms, it really needed a change.

Before pic, Needs an update
I've done 6 or so smaller projects and this chair was definitely the most involved project to date. It took hours of dismantling, a small bout of nerves and lots of new lessons learnt. I hadn't even decided on the style or colour of the chair until I came upon some amazing Transformers fabric. After that it came together even better than I'd pictured.
Transformers Chair, Upholstery,  After

Denim, vinyl, padded arms and extra seat padding brought the chair back to life and injected some personality back into the well loved but dated chair. It now looks like it fits into my quirky handmade home.

The chair was a big hit with my kindergartner when it was finally unveiled.
Happy chappy with his new chair <3
I really enjoyed this learning experience and in the process I have a one of a kind piece of furniture for the cost of the fabric alone.

I would recommend trying out upholstery to anyone looking to transform their old furniture. Not all chairs will require sewing skills and a simple staple gun from the hardware store is a great inexpensive starter tool.

A few tips to get your started:
  •  Firstly make sure first that the item isn't a valuable Antique
  • Flip it over and check for damage to the springs or arms.
  • Take lots of pictures along the way as you dismantle 
  • KEEP EVERYTHING - Fabric pieces can be used as pattern pieces for the new fabric and even old tacks can be reused at a push should you run short
  • Always exercise caution when using heavy duty staple guns.
Good luck with all your Spring and Summer projects!

- Emma (Volunteer)

Tips for Green Spring Cleaning!

Now that the snow has finally disappeared (fingers crossed), it’s time for get ready for spring and summer! One thing that I do, as I’m sure most of you do too, is spring-cleaning: one of those things you kind of dread, but feel so satisfied afterwards. 

Here are some reminders of what you may want to clean, with some tips that will hopefully make the process a little less arduous and leave your house looking spring-fresh! And the great thing is, you don’t really have to spend any money; most of the cleaning items are probably already in your home.
Source: HouseBeautiful

  • Looking for a great cleaning agent? Currently throwing away your eggshells? Great reuse news! You can make a great cleaner with a mild abrasive by pulverizing old eggshells with a touch of water and detergent: http://www.fivespotgreenliving.com/eco-friendly-uses-eggshells/
  • Organize your closet – this is a great time to donate unused winter items! If you didn’t wear it this past winter, is it really worth holding on to for another winter of gathering dust? Or, host a clothing swap! (see earlier Clothing Swap blog post)
  • Use old paper towel holders and muffin tins to hold all that extra jewelry – displays it nicely and helps you remember which pieces you own! You can also use old candle jars to store loose items such as hair ties, bobby pins, make-up, etc.
  • Dust books and shelves, and rearrange them in a fun new way.
  • Dust lighting fixtures and other items that aren’t dusted on a regular basis, e.g. artwork on walls.
  • Clean painted walls – start with clean cloth / sponge and water. If this doesn’t work, add some dishwashing liquid. For the full details, Check out HouseBeautiful
  • Clean bathroom tiles with a cleaner with a “neutral pH.” Check out HouseBeautiful for more information
  • Wash window screens – scrub with a brush in warm water and dishwashing liquid, and rinse. Don’t forget about washing the windows and window sills!
  • Clean our your fridge and oven with baking soda and water.
  • Clean your  microwave by heating some water with lemons for 3 minutes for it steam the interior. Let it sit for five minutes, then wipe it clean.  Website, Clean Mama, has other great appliance cleaning tips.  
Source: PopSugar

Feeling a bit daunted? PopSugar has a printable 30-day spring cleaning challenge, so you just do one item a day, and in a month, you’re done!

Have fun cleaning house and enjoy the warm weather!

- Tamara (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

New Idea Cards Inspire Reuse Centre Customers

CD/DVD Picture Frame
You may often find yourself wondering exactly how some of the items at the Reuse Centre can be reused or repurposed. Luckily for our customers, the staff have come up with the solution of putting up idea cards throughout the store!
Customer curiosity was what motivated the Reuse Centre Coordinator, Kristin, to create idea cards and place them around the store.  People shopping or donating would often exclaim that they would have no idea what to do with things like bread bag tags or empty CD and DVD cases. Therefore, the idea cards seemed like an excellent way to reach out to the public and fulfill the Centre’s goal to educate people about a variety of creative and very useful ways to reuse different items.

Stamps Photo Frame
Idea cards are placed throughout the aisles and offer suggestions on a wide variety of crafts and DIY projects on how to reuse the items we sell. Each colorful card shows a picture example of the craft or project, with a list of materials and a link to a website with instructions or a tutorial.
So far, the staff have received positive feedback about the Idea Cards, and we have also noticed customers browsing through them while they shop. Even our younger customers love to take a look at fun crafts they can create with the items.

Paper Plate Dream Catcher
Given the positive responses from customers, staff are looking at using different methods to promote reuse of our items around the store. One idea we would like to try is a more prominent display of ideas on the wall for more people to see. Another exciting possibility is to compile and display a collection of submissions from the public on the projects they have completed with items from the Reuse Centre. 

Next time you visit, keep an eye out for the Idea Cards and be inspired to create something new with your next purchase of reuse items! Share the way you reuse our items below!

- Lynnette (Staff)