I am concerned about the environment and climate change – even more so after the recent new political addition in the U.S.- and I try to do my best to reduce my carbon footprint: I walk everywhere, recycle, I’m vegetarian and buy food with less package as possible, I don’t print anything unless absolutely needed and receive my bills all online. I know I could be a bit more mindful and create even less waste by making, for example, my own beauty products -I tried to make deo and it actually worked quite well; but I admit sometimes for laziness or lack of time I go for the less environment-friendly solutions. However, it is possible to live a zero waste life, if you are interested, have a look at Trash is For Tossers.

Nonetheless, even after paying attention to buy the biggest pack of porridge, only loose vegetables, avoiding precooked meals, carrying around a tote bag, the recyclable bin in my house is always full, in particular with paper packaging and plastic pots.

And this makes me sad, plastic in particular: the ocean is full of plastic, the marine fauna is dying because of pollution, but everything nowadays is wrapped in plastic, which is inexpensive but takes decades to decompose. Have a look here as an image is worth more than a thousand of blabbering. But… and there is always a but… when it sees a problem, my creative mind can’t help but see a new opportunity from something that was destined to the bins, hence the title and topic on this post. This is not a post about one specific project, but a collection of small craft ideas I’ve made in recent years out of what would have been simple scraps.

This is a list of materials that can be reused:
Toilet paper rolls
Boxes of all sizes and shapes
Yogurt pots and other food containers.
Scrap paper: tickets, receipts, brochures, newspapers, paper bags, college handouts, etc.
Scrap fabric and old clothes
Ribbons, bows and cords from presents
Other materials: plastic bottles, Nespresso capsules, etc.

To make:
Wrapping gifts

Of course, there is nothing new in using food containers as storage solutions: biscuit tins to store sewing supplies have been used by generation of grandmas, mams and daughters; shoe boxes to collect mementos and souvenirs; yogurt pots as desk pencils holders. But if you look close at every piece of garbage you are about to throw away (no, not that rotten tomato left in your fridge to die alone), you might have an eureka moment and find yourself with a new craft project. Also, look on the Interwebs, these are some Pinterest search ideas: gift wrap diy, recycled crafts, upcycle paper, gift wrap DIY, toilet paper roll crafts, diy storage ideas, cardboard crafts, plastic bottle crafts.

These are some of my recycled storage solutions:

  1. Amazon box to hold my notebooks, agendas and pads. I’m planning to use covers from a few volumes of the New Yorker to finish it, but for the moment it’s great so I don’t lose any around the house.
  2. Bottle re-purposed and prettified for make up items. I use Soap&Glory for most of my beauty needs, they are not the cheapest but they are affordable and good products, and they don’t test on animals! Plus, all their names are funny puns. Their containers are made of good thick plastic: the moisturizers ones are great to organize smaller craft items such as buttons, and the bottles can be cut and decorated with a bit of ribbon and a hot glue gun to hold all your make up pencils. You can also cut them on different height and glue them together to make a bigger one. I’ve never tried it (yet).
  3. Just a box full of colorful pens and pencils. This is one of my latest addition in my strike of attempts at organizing my house, so I don’t have to throw everything out each time I need something I don’t remember where I put it (because last time I used it, I put it in that place where I would totally find it). Also, I want to have everything at hand when I bullet journal. There is very little craft involved in this: just a bunch of plastic pots and toilet rolls. The toilet roll pen holders are made by 3 rolls wrapped in wide tape to hold them together. That’s it: not fancy, but extremely functional.

The possibilities are many even if you are interested in something more crafty; of course, I have to warn you that this also means some underlying paper and cardboard hoarding tendencies. No worries, I don’t live among piles of scraps papers and cardboard boxes, I use my little storage masterpieces, and also some help from Ikea, to try to keep everything organized.

Here it’s some of my more artistic creations:

  1. Cardboard pin board. I recently started working from home and I had to set up an office corner, so I went to Ikea and got a nice black table and a swivel chair. But my office really needed a board to pin important stuff and things to do. Shops sell them for less than a tenner, some even with a blackboard to scribble on it with chalk, not expensive, but after a trip to Ikea… well, you know what I mean. So, I went back home and saw all the empty Ikea boxes and ta-dah! I cut a piece big enough and bordered it with a tape with skulls from Tiger from my craft supplies. I don’t use it for planning at the end, but mostly to pin drawings, leaflets and such things.
  2. Paper gift bags. This is a quick idea if you have a last minute gift to wrap or you really don’t want to throw away that cute paper shopping bag. In addition to a paper shopping bag, you will need other paper supplies, ribbons or cords, or anything that your imagination requires. The one pictured is made by a paper bag from Dunnes, a grocery, home ware and clothes store chain here in Ireland, a paper doily, a bit of jute cord and boxes from the Nespresso capsules. And then the usual glue and scissors, plus a butterfly hole puncher from Tiger. For the tutorial on how to fold it, visit this Hello Sandwich Post.
  3. Xmas decoration made of Nespresso capsules and boxes. Search for Nespresso capsules diy or jewellery in Pinterest if you don’t know what I’m talking about and be amazed. I have about 3 bags full of capsules (I drink a lot of coffee) with the plan of doing fabulous jewellery and decorations on day; reality is a bit different, but this Xmas I decided I needed to decorate a bit my house, so I made this hanging little bells with some gold Nespresso capsules, cord and some beads. The little stars are made with the paper sleeve of the capsules because we don’t throw away anything!

This thin cardboard is actually quite nice, unfortunately there is writings almost all over so it needs paint, but some of the colorful bits from limited editions can be used as page markers for your bullet journal. Have a look here on my Instagram. I know washi tapes and stickers are irresistible, but if you are on a budget it’s surprising how much decorations you can find just using scrap paper lying around. The most long-lived example is definitely tickets, maps, postcards, but I discovered this morning that even a receipt can become an embellishment. I was about to tear it and bin it when it just hit me how perfect would have been on my Movie list page! Check the pictures to see what I mean…

These are just of the few creative things you can do with your “rubbish”, while helping the environment and saving a few quids (or bucks depending where you are).

Hope you enjoy the read and you found some inspiration today!