Friday, 30 October 2015

October Reuse-It Item: Crayons

The Reuse Centre accepts crayons of all shapes, sizes, and colours. We'll take them new, used, and even broken! This month, our blogger volunteers have come up with a list of great ways to use up those old crayon stubs and pieces, that might not be great for colouring anymore.

This box of nearly-new crayons was donated to the Reuse Centre!


Do you love Play-Doh®? I love Play-Doh®!

Here is an easy tutorial you can follow to make Play-Doh®-style putty at home, in all the colours of the rainbow.

All you need are crayon pieces and a couple of common kitchen ingredients to make this simple recipe. It's perfect for playing!

Get the tutorial at
Easy, quick, and non-toxic, this putty is great for all ages!
Image from


I loved to colour when I was a kid, but as soon as the crayons became too short for me to sharpen I would always just toss them away. This craft uses all of the crayon nubbins earmarked for the garbage bin, and makes unique ornaments that you could use on your Christmas tree, or as that pop of colour in your home decorating!

The instructions, from the blog Living, Loving, Laughing & Creating Everyday, seem pretty simple: take the top off of a clear ornament ball, place a few crayon pieces inside, put the top back on and heat gently with a hair dryer until the pieces melt, swirling so the wax spreads around. Be careful - it sounds like it could get a little hot, but the results are worth it!
These look amazing!
Image from Living, Loving, Laughing &Creating Everday


Crayons are lots of fun, but when they inevitably get broken and stubby, what can you do with them? A practical reuse idea for crayons is to make a candle out of the pieces.

Other than soy wax (unless you're already a candle maker extraordinaire), chances are you already have most of the items you need at home. Check out the full instructions here.

Who doesn't love candles? They're so colorful, too! Enjoy!
These neat-looking candles will add a funky touch to any room.
Image from


The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, so let's brighten up the place with colour and illumination!  This is a simple idea, with great results. Use leftover crayons to scribble on white paper bags. To melt the crayon, set a piece of parchment paper on top of the bag and iron it. This blends and swirls the colours.  

Punch holes throughout the paper bag to allow more light to flow, and then place a small tea light candle inside a plastic cup or glass holder inside the paper bags. If you're concerned about fire safety, you could also use a battery powered faux candle.

Get the full set of instructions at Aunt Peaches.

These would be great table decorations for a party.
Image from

My good friend Patti received this lovely handmade picture, made with crayons, for her birthday.

Make your own gorgeous artwork by melting crayons!
Image provided by RuthAnn.
Here's how her friend, Tammi, made it!

Materials needed:
Crayons (this project used the equivalent of two boxes)
GOOP® (or another industrial adhesive; glue does not work)
Hair dryer

Set the canvas up at the angle you want your colours to run. The process is messy, so be sure to put a drop cloth underneath your project.

Use the GOOP® to adhere the crayons to the top of the canvas. You can peel the labels off of the crayons if you want to, but it's not necessary. Use the hair dryer to melt the crayons. It takes a few minutes to get going, but once they start to drip, it goes quickly. Angle the hairdryer in the directions that you want the wax to run, to blend colours.

Choose the image you want for your silhouette. For this project, Tammi combined two images (Eeyore and an umbrella). Glue your image to black card stock, trace, and cut it out. Remember that your image will be reversed when completed, since you flip it over to use the black side. Before sticking it down, make sure it is facing the way you want the final product to appear. Use goop to adhere the image to the canvas, and voila!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

DIY Halloween Deadcorating

As an adult, I think I'm more excited about Halloween than I ever was when I was a kid. When you're little, you're mostly in it for the candy. When you're grown, you get to make your house look super creepy and then invite all of your friends over for an awesome party!

Store bought Halloween decorations can get pricey, and most of them have a definite "store bought" quality to them that can ruin the creepy effect you're probably going for. I found some great DIY "deadcorating" ideas to give your place that ghoulish, unsettling vibe this Halloween.

Paint It Black
Paint makes everything better...and black paint makes everything creepy! Those little porcelain jugs found in every thrift shop and your grandma's basement become decidedly sinister with a coat of black spray paint. Use them as delightfully macabre centerpieces on your snack table, or place them anywhere in your home where your guests might end up. The black really lends itself to Halloween, but these painted jugs look so sleek that you could use them year round.

Similarly, cute porcelain figurines become terrifying when given the same treatment. I especially like the way the red glittery eyes make this owl look possessed.

Fake Flowers Are Your Friends
Found in any craft or thrift store, fake flowers come in a wide range of colours that can cheer up any room or project. That simply won't do for your Halloween decorations, but it's nothing your trusty black spray paint can't fix.
Besides giving your home that deathly quality, fake flowers also give you the opportunity to put together some truly unsettling arrangements, like eyeball flowers! Inspire nightmares and create therapy fuel by gluing fake eyeballs into the middles of fake flowers. Might I suggest you then place them inside your painted jugs?

Turn Everyone Arachnophobic
No Halloween is complete without creepy crawlies, and these DIY projects don't disappoint. If you can get your hands on a few pairs of stockings, you can make some really awesome hanging decorations for your yard, or to suspend from the ceiling in your party zone.
One great idea that I came across requires a stocking, a balloon, and a glow stick. Put 'em all together and you get this really great ethereal effect that looks like ghosts, or spider eggs, or maybe even glowing brains.
If you're looking for more of a classic, spidery display, a stocking filled with cotton balls or stuffing and covered in fake spiders will do nicely. If you're worried your guests might leave without developing a lifelong phobia, try hanging a few spiders from the "egg sacks" with thread or dental floss.

Private Eyes Are Watching You
Toilet paper rolls, a box cutter, and glow sticks are all you need to unsettle your guests and neighbourhood trick-or-treaters at your doorstep. Place these glowing eyes in unexpected places around your yard, or even in your home (bathroom, pantry, coat closet, etc.), and see how many people notice they're being quietly watched.

Happy Halloween, from the Reuse Centre!

-Nichole (Volunteer)

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Magazine Strip Silhouette Art

This summer felt like it stampeded by, so it was particularly nice to have a free Saturday morning! I ended up blocking it off for a fun project with friends which included coffee, craft therapy, and grownup talk.  The project at hand was to make magazine strip silhouettes, and my goal was to make it simple, modern, and a fun distraction from our routine troubles.

Step One: Print Stencil/Silhouette
In preparation for this project, you'll need to choose your images. We found stencils and silhouettes online, then resized them to print onto a full letter sized page.  Images with more surface areas are ideal. For more intricate images, like the zebra, fish or raccoon-Mario, an alternative is to use the magazine strips for the background, rather than for the silhouette itself. (You'll see what I mean later!)

We had a wide variety of images to work with!

Our magazine stash.

Step Two: Choose Colourful Magazine Pages
Pull out pages with a lot of colour or intricate patterns, which will make the silhouette look fuller.  Try to choose pages with colours that will contrast with the background paper you intend to use.

It's okay to have some pages with words or body parts, since these won't be very noticeable in the cut strips. 

Step Three: Cut Strips from Magazine Pages
Fold the magazine pages accordion-style to create nice, straight cutting lines that are the same distance apart. Alternately, you can use a ruler and draw cutting lines. Note that the thinner the strips, the more gluing you will have to do.

Cutting the strips takes patience, but it's worth it!
Be very careful to cut as straight as you can, because it will help when pasting the strips side-by-side. While cutting, my friend came up with an ingenious plan to use a shredder.  Try it out and let me know!

Paste strips on the back
of a printed page.
Step Four: Glue Magazine Strips to the Back
The fun part! Paste the strips as you please on the backside of the stencil pages. The pattern is up to you. We alternated a variety of strips of different colours to make a rainbow effect.  I have seen some projects done with gradients of the same colour, which has a desirable look as well.

Keep in mind that the strips only need to cover the image, so you don't necessarily have to cover the entire page.  Rotate and place magazine strips strategically, depending on where the image cutout will be.  Some of the strips won't be cut perfectly straight, so just overlay them to ensure no blank spaces are showing.

Step Five: Cut out Silhouette and Paste Striped Silhouette onto Paper
Depending on the silhouette, you can also turn the original cut sheet into a second art piece, as with the deer silhouette shown below. As I mentioned earlier, this would work really well for more intricate images like the zebra.

The negative space inside the remaining magazine strips still looks neat! 
Cut-out striped silhouette.
Left, we have the striped silhouette on coloured paper, and on the
right, the leftover striped background over coloured paper.
Step Six: Enjoy Finished Art Piece! Frame and Gift at Your Leisure.
I'm really glad that this turned out so well!  We were really worried that this would turn out to be a pinterest fail moment.  I still have tons of magazines left over, so I will have to come up with another craft therapy session soon!
Our finished silhouettes, ready for display.

- Siao (Volunteer)

All photos provided by Siao.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

5 Ways to Reuse your Turkey Dinner

Did you know that Canadians wasted approximately $31 billion worth of food last year? Almost half of that was consumer waste - Canadian families throwing food in the garbage.

How are we faring in Edmonton? Approximately 23% of the garbage produced by Edmontonians in 2013 was food waste. This means that almost a quarter of our garbage is something that could have been eaten. Even more distressing, some of what we throw away is still perfectly edible, in original packaging and within the expiry dates.

This weekend, many of us will be enjoying Thanksgiving with friends and family. If your family is anything like mine, Thanksgiving means food. A big turkey in the oven, a huge pot of mashed potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, veggies galore, and of course a choice of pies for dessert!

We always make too much, and so do most people we know. So with that in mind, here are 5 simple ways to reduce waste and "reuse" your turkey dinner! photo by May I Have That Recipe
Meal Plan with Leftovers
One of the best parts about a big holiday meal is the leftovers. Too often, we pack things into the fridge and forget about them. Or we get sick of them, day after day.

Make a plan for your leftovers, so you don't find yourself dumping food into the garbage a week down the road. Too many mashed potatoes? Try making latkes or use them to top a shepherd's pie. For a double leftover-busting whammy, replace the ground beef in that pie with your leftover turkey!

Soup Stock
Homemade soup stock is incredibly easy to make, cheap, and usually much healthier than store bought varieties. Simply throw your whole turkey carcass (bones, skin, fat, it's all good!) into a pot with onions, garlic, and unwanted, leftover vegetables.

Did you know that vegetable peels are rich in nutrients? Throw those (washed) carrot and potato peels, zuchini ends, and corn cobs in there, too, stems and all. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, thyme, sage, whatever smells good!
Image Source: Me! For my next trick, I'll transform this!
Cover with water and let simmer on the stove (1-2 hours) or in a crock pot (4-8+ hours). Strain the solids out, and you're done! Broth will last for a few days in the fridge, or you can freeze it in smaller portions to use later.

I keep a running "soup sack" in my freezer. Every time we peel veggies, find limp celery in the bottom of the crisper, or cook anything with a bone, it goes into a freezer bag. When the bag is full, the contents go into the crock pot and out comes broth!

Image Source:
Gravy Cubes
Gravy freezes really well! Pour your leftover gravy into ice cube trays, freeze, and then store the gravy cubes in a container in your freezer. Toss them into stir fries and other recipes as you cook, to add a bit of flavour.

Recipe-Ready Turkey
No matter how much we try, we are always faced with a last bit of turkey that really shouldn't sit in the fridge much longer. Are you noticing a theme yet? I put it in my freezer! This turkey is pre-cooked and chopped, so I can pull out as much or as little as I need for a recipe that's going to get eaten right away. I throw it, still frozen, into stir fries, add it to rice, or into a container with some veggies for lunch at work.

Pie Casserole
This doesn't usually happen in my house, but apparently some people end up with leftover pie. Yep, there's a use for that, too. I might have to hoard some extra pie this year, so I can try this delicious looking pumpkin pie breakfast casserole.

These are just a few ways to reduce food waste around the holidays. If you have other ideas, we'd love to hear them! Please share your tips and tricks in the comments.

-Sarah (Staff)