Friday, 29 June 2018

From Kitchen Trash to Canada Day Crafts!

Now that the kids are out of school, it's a great time to start on some fun and easy summer crafting! Instead of going out and buying new supplies, why not use items that might be already lying around the house? Reusing is less expensive, more convenient and eco-friendly.

If you're looking for new-to-you craft items, the Reuse Centre is a great place to start as they have an ever-changing selection of arts and crafts supplies at a fantastic price (only $5 for up to 25 kg of materials).

With Canada Day fast approaching, here's a selection of craft ideas that the whole family can enjoy together. Each project takes a common kitchen recyclable that can be found in your blue bag and turns it into something festive!

1. From Soup Can to Wind Sock

This craft is a great example of how a common waste item (like an old soup or vegetable tin) can be upcycled into something celebratory! This activity is also great for using up scraps of coloured paper and ribbon to create the windsock and string, yarn or wire for the hanger loop.

2. From Glass Jar to Centerpiece

Although the original project calls for mason jars, spray paint and wood cutouts, this project can be made more inexpensively and kid-friendly using empty jars from jams or sauces, acrylic craft paint and a DIY maple leaf made from leftover card stock.

3. From Milk Carton to Bird Feeder

The feeder shown here has been painted to resemble Jellybean Row houses in St. John's, Newfoundland, but you can come up with any design imaginable! Setting up a bird feeder provides a great opportunity to observe and learn about local wildlife and to share why nature and sustainability are so important.

Happy Canada Day!

-Karlene (Volunteer)

Monday, 25 June 2018

3 Easy Ways to Reuse Water

Canada has a bountiful supply of freshwater, accounting for 11.7% of the country's total area, according to Stats Canada.  Despite having such a large amount of water available, it is important to be mindful of the amount of water used, as water is not an easily replenished resource. Currently, the average amount of potable water used per person in Canada every single day is 466 litres! With that in mind, here are three easy ways that every individual can reuse water in their home to reduce this gigantic number.

1. Place a Bucket in the Shower

Let's be honest, nobody gets in the shower after immediately turning it on. Since it takes a while for the water to get warm, most people aren't crazy about hopping into the cold. An easy way to save that cold, potable water is to place a bucket in the shower while waiting for it to get warm. The water collected in the bucket can now be used to flush the toilet by slowly pouring about 4 litres of the reused water into the toilet bowl. Flushing a toilet can use anywhere between 6 to 14 litres of water each time. Therefore, the ability to subsidize water by flushing the toilet with cold shower water minimizes the total amount of water used in a household.

Source: Giphy 

2. Pasta or Vegetable Water to Water Your Plants

Cooking pasta takes about 16 cups of boiling water for a family of four people. Normally, when the pasta is done, the next step is to use a colander over the sink to drain all the water. Instead of draining the pasta water into the sink, why not save it by putting the colander on top of another pot? The pasta water is full of starch which plants will love due to the added nutrition. This is what I call a win-win situation: more nutritious water for your plant and a smaller water footprint for you.

17 DIY plant pots and stands that’ll get you ready for spring

3. Install a Rain Barrel Under the Gutter

When it rains, rainwater is normally sent down the drain and left unused. That means that using rainwater is free and that it does not take any special plumbing for you to use. Installing a rain barrel underneath the downspout of your rain gutter is the perfect way to capture rain water -- and there will be lots of it. Edmonton receives an average of 80 litres/m² each summer month with June and July being the rainiest months. A great way to use all of this captured rainwater is to use it to water your lawn, as watering the lawn can be one of the most water-intensive activities during the summer months.

Water is a super precious natural resource. Every time we find a way to reuse it, we minimize our everyday impact, leading to a more sustainable way of life. If you have any other ways to reuse water, please comment down below!

-Dolly (volunteer)

Monday, 4 June 2018

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

We will continue our project of creating a fun and sustainable crafting space!

In part one, we discussed how to find a workstation and think about storage. Now we will move on to the next steps.

3) Choose energy efficient lighting. Good lighting is critical for your crafting area, especially if you’re reading patterns, taking photographs or working on a smaller-scale project like cross-stitch. Especially in the winter, our natural light fades quickly!

Photo: Karlene L.

My craft nook is in a basement with dimmable LED fixtures and an LED desk lamp with adjustable brightness and position. This way, I can control the amount of light I need – whether I’m watching a movie or working on a project – and the energy used is a fraction of that consumed by conventional incandescent bulbs.

4) Accessorize! Congratulations, you’ve made it to the really fun part! Your space should be an extension of who you are, so whatever brings a smile to your face, now’s the time to display it using shelving, cork boards, pegboards or a gallery wall!

My area is a work in progress so the walls are still bare, but I’m taking inspiration from my office where I have a beautiful vintage map of Belgium (to remind me of my travels) and a display of some of my completed craft projects (to provide inspiration).

Photo: Karlene L.

My accessories include a vintage tall ship model, a locally-made ceramic yarn bowl, two "Made in Alberta" letterpress cards, a repurposed IKEA (zebra print!) office chair and a whimsical button-print rug.

Photo: Karlene L.

Another great idea is to hang paintings that you can make with your family – no experience necessary! With a few inexpensive stretched canvases (available locally at Michaels, DeSerres or The Paint Spot), brushes and acrylic paint, you can have a fun family afternoon and decorate your space at the same time.

So there you have it! With a little bit of time and creativity, you can have the whimsical and sustainable craft nook of your dreams. Instead of saying, “there’s no way I’m cleaning off my desk and dragging the sewing machine out,” you can just sit down at your workstation and start making.

-Karlene (Volunteer)