Friday, 24 March 2017

Low-cost/No-cost Upcycled Seed Starting Kits

It seems like spring is taking forever to get here, doesn't it? Not to worry though, there are some things you can do to get started on your garden early. The best part is that you can use common items found around the house or at the Reuse Centre. I use these techniques every year to get my tomatoes and flowers started indoors with no outlay of expenses other than the potting soil.

Cardboard Tube Seed Pot 

Photo Credit: Sarah J.

What you will need:
  • Clean cardboard tubes (toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper rolls)
  • Scissors
  • Shallow plastic tray
  • Potting soil *sterilized through microwaving or store bought to reduce the risk of introducing molds that may harm your seedlings. Packaged potting soil is already sterilized.
  • Yogurt container
  • Water
  • Seeds

  1. Find a clean cardboard tube (trim longer tubes to about 7-10cm) and cut four slits into the bottom of the roll a quarter of an inch long.
  2. Press cut sections of toilet paper rolls inwards to create the bottom of the seed pot. Don't worry if it doesn't stay completely shut on its own, the soil will hold everything in place. 
  3. Fill the cardboard seed pot with soil. I like to fill a yogurt container with soil first and then scoop the soil with the cardboard seed pot.
  4. Once the seed pot is filled with soil, stand it up in a shallow plastic tray. The tray will collect any extra water.
  5. Make as many as you need and follow the directions on the seed packet for planting.
  6. Keep the seed pots damp and warm to sprout the seeds.
  7. When the sprout gets large enough, replant it in the garden or a larger pot. 

Pastry Container Seed Starting

Photo Credit: Sarah J.
What you will need:
  • Plastic pastry container
  • Scissors
  • Yogurt container, to scoop the soil
  • Potting soil *sterilized through microwaving or store bought to reduce the risk of introducing molds that may harm your seedlings. Packaged potting soil is already sterilized. 
  • Seeds 

Steps :
  1. You will need to make some drainage holes; use one side of the scissors and poke some holes in the bottom of your pastry container. 
  2. Cut the lid off. 
  3. Fill the bottom portion of the container with damp potting soil. 
  4. Plant the seeds according to seed package. 
  5. Place the lid on the top of the bottom of the pastry container to keep the moisture in the soil while the seeds germinate. 
  6. When the seeds sprout place the lid underneath as a tray to prevent water from leaking onto your table.
  7. Water as needed, to keep the soil damp.

Starting seeds inside will give you a jump start on the summer gardening. Most of the supplies are easily found around the house and whatever you're missing can be found at the Reuse Centre. This will save you money on buying new supplies and starter plants from the garden centers. If you have little ones, let them get dirty, let them see something grow! 

- Sarah J. (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Foreign Coins: DIY Projects

I don’t know about you but I love travelling – I can’t get enough of it. It’s always exhilarating to go to a brand new, exotic place, and take in all the local culture. This includes using foreign currency.

Although it can be difficult at times to mentally figure out the approximate conversion to Canadian dollars, it’s also lots of fun to use fascinating looking coins of all different shapes, weights, colours, and sizes. The only problem when coming home is that you usually end up with a handful of coins in small denominations that you simply couldn’t use up. So what do you do with these unusual coins?

Mine have been sitting in a jar, out of sight. I’ve always been intrigued by decorations that display aspects of travelling, and thought that perhaps I could make something out of all the extra change I collected throughout my travels.

Recently, I created magnets using some of my foreign coins. This was pretty easy.

If you have old magnets, for example one with an expired calendar on it, you can cut it up into small pieces so they fit onto the back of the coin. Then you just glue the magnet to the coin. I used a hot glue gun but other craft glues may also work. You can also use inexpensive magnetic tape, instead of glue. This might be a good idea if the magnets you currently have are not very strong or the coins you’re using are heavy. The hardest part about this little craft is selecting which side of the coin you’d like to display! My magnets look something like this:

Photo Credit: Tamara

Another idea that I recently found and am really excited to try, is to use an old vase and decorate it completely with foreign coins. This example from Bob Vila shows what the vase looks like with only pennies but you could easily replicate the idea with foreign coins. A great thing about this craft is it is not very complicated, and the result looks fantastic. Depending on what background you want, you can spray paint the vase to a different colour before gluing the coins. In this example, the vase was spray painted black, which contrasts nicely with the pennies and gives it an elegant, modern look. This is a superb idea especially for those Canadians who may have a surplus of pennies lying around since the cent was phased out. 

Image Source: Bob Vila

Do you have any craft ideas to use extra foreign coins? Share them in the comments section.

                                                                                                                                 -Tamara (Volunteer)

Saturday, 11 March 2017

For the love of Green!

March 17th is rolling in. Why not share in the celebration of Saint Patrick, be it having a green beer, eating a large Irish feast, watching the parade, or simply wearing green? There are many ways to get into the spirit and here are some craft ideas to show your love of green.

St Patrick's Wreath

Shamrock Wreath Photo Tutorial ~ Step-by-step instructions showing how to make this grapevine wreath decorated with shamrocks and different kinds of ribbon. Very easy to do with fabulous results specially made for St. Patrick's Day! /
Image Source: Time with Thea

Image Source: Punkie Pies

Dig out those Christmas wreaths and with any luck, there will be some greens and golds already incorporated, so little will need to be changed. Any of the neutral colours can stay, such as white, blacks, browns. Then all that is left are the finishing touches of shamrocks, leprechauns, rainbows, and pots of golds.  Check out the instructions for the two wreaths shown above at Time with Thea and Punkie Pies.

Nordic Leprechaun Gnome

St Patrick's Day Gnome, Nordic Leprechaun, Irish Felt Gnomes, Fairy Gnome, Scandinavian Gnomes, Irish Gnome, Gifts, Ireland, Gnome Makers

Image Source: Etsy: NORDIKatja Shop

These little leprechaun Nordic gnomes will be a delight to have as decoration and would also make a great addition to the garden as we head into spring. Instructions on making your own mini-felt gnomes can be found at Spool and Spoon Blog. You can make the leprechaun variation of the Nordic felt gnomes by adapting the hat to be flat top instead of pointy and using green coloured scraps.

Happy St. Patrick's Crafting!
                                                                                                                                    - Siao (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Featured Reuse-It Item - Neckties

Here at the Reuse Centre we usually have a few neckties kicking around waiting for someone to pick them up and give them a second life. Neckties can be reworn over and over again but they can also be repurposed and upcycled into numerous creative things. Our blog team has put together a number of great ideas to upcycle old and unwanted neckties. Check out what we came up with.

Ellen & Tamara

The best thing about crafting with preloved neckties is that the best patterns are often the ones rejected by current fashion trends. What no longer works with a crisp, professional suit, will look lovely cut to bits on a crafting table!

Using Sadie Seasongoods' tutorial as a guideline, I started with a plain vibrant blue necktie and roughly measured the circumference of a typical to-go coffee cup then snipped the end of the tie to accommodate the circumference. I sewed along the cut line to prevent any unwanted fraying from occurring. The cut line would be hidden by the tip of the tie overlapping, so the seam didn’t need to be fancy. I decided to use adhesive-backed hook and loop Velcro strips. I fixed the loop side of the Velcro fastener to the backside of the tip of the tie and the hook end of the Velcro strip to the other side of the tie. Once the Velcro was attached all I had to do was wrap my necktie cozy around my beverage cup or bottle. Super easy!

Photo Credits: Ellen

With summer just a couple of months away, these drink cozies will be perfect for enjoying a cold beverage out in the sun. What a "cool" idea for keeping your drinks from getting warm this summer!


What better way to repurpose an old necktie than to use it to add a little extra flare and adornment to an existing shirt. I love the contrast of blue with the yellow on this tee shirt created by McKell's Closet. There are unlimited possibilities to create one of a kind ruffled necktie tees.

Image Source: McKell's Closet


Neckties are easy to find stuffed in the back corners of closets, hanging untouched on hangers, and drooping in second-hand stores. It's also hard to find a use for them once the crazy prints are obscenely out of style.

Good thing there's an upcycle option for everything, including your old ties! A great example for those who are handy with a sewing machine is to use the bright, vibrant colours and interesting prints as focal points in quilts. Your tie quilt will continue to draw attention in a beautifully eye-catching way. See Anita's Piecing and Quilting for a tutorial.

I am always looking for ways to better organize my things, so I'm not always digging for something in my cavernous purse. I love this idea for a pouch made out of an old tie! I have a collection of ties in cool prints that I've been trying to use up, and I think I'll be whipping one of these up over the weekend! See Snapguide for detailed instructions.
Image Source: Snapguide

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Family Day Celebration 2017!

Join us for our annual Family Day celebration at the Reuse Centre on Monday, February 20th from 12-3pm. 

There will be reuse crafting, facility tours, scavenger hunts, popcorn and more. Look around the store for some puzzles, games, movies or books to bring home and enjoy with the whole family. Our price is $5 for up to 50kg! You can also drop-off any donations on our Accepted Items List during your visit. RSVP to our Facebook event to stay updated about the event. If you are interested in attending, please see the following event schedule:

Reuse Crafting Session, Scavenger Hunt and Popcorn | 12-3pm

We will be making robots with reusable materials. This activity is recommended for children 5 years and up, and parents must stay to supervise in the Workshop Room. Also, grab your family and complete an in-store Reuse Centre scavenger hunt. Celebrate by sharing some popcorn with your team and enter to win a gift basket full of goodies.

Source: Reuse Centre

Composting & Recycling at Home | 12-3pm

Are you a saavy recycler or a newbie composter? Learn more about how you can compost and recycle at home with your family. Make a compost tea bag with the help of Master Composter Recyclers, or ask them about other great ways your family can reduce waste at home.

Source: City of Edmonton

Facility Tours |12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm, 1:30pm, 2pm

Get a sneak peek of the Reuse Centre, behind the scenes. Join us for a free 30 minute tour of the facility and learn more about how we divert waste from landfill. Tours start at the front desk in the store area.

Source: Reuse Centre

We look forward to seeing you at the event. Happy Family Day!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Upcycled Bouquets for your Valentine

Valentine's Day is right around the corner -- do you have plans to surprise your sweetheart? You don't have to break the bank to show them that you care. This year, gift a bouquet of handcrafted flowers that will last forever!

Here are six fun, unique ways to create your own eco-friendly, reuse-crafted flowers for friends, family, and that special someone in your life.

Image source: Joallie Petit
Necktie Roses

Put a funky spin on the classic rose bouquet by making some patterned necktie roses with this tutorial from Joallie Petit. Wild patterns work best, so hit up your favourite thrift store and see what you can find.

Image source: Todolwen
Egg Carton Roses

These egg carton roses from Todolwen are easy to make, and have a rustic beauty when made with plain cardboard egg cartons. For a more colourful bouquet, dip-dye or paint your finished flowers in any shade you like.

Image source: Crissy's Crafts
Pop Can Flowers

These are stunning! I would never have thought you could make something so lovely out of a simple pop can. Check out Crissy's Crafts for the tutorial, and for several ideas on how to use your creations.

Image source: Kid Friendly Things to Do
Water Bottle Bouquet

This is a great craft for kids who want to make something special for a friend or family member. They're quick and easy enough to make one for every kid in class!

Find out how at Kid Friendly Things to Do.

Image source: 100 Layer Cake
Storybook Paper Roses

These are perfect for the literature-lover in your life. Grab an old book (preferably one that's in poor condition and can't be read anymore) and craft these elegant paper roses. Make your gift extra special by choosing a book that has meaning for your loved one.

Get the tutorial at 100 Layer Cake.

Image source: ReLoved Designs
Pistachio Shell Flowers

I really love the look of these pistachio shell flowers. They're so bright and modern looking! A cluster of these in a nice, simple frame would make a great piece of wall art for your loved one.

See the tutorial at ReLoved Designs.

-Sarah (Volunteer)

Friday, 13 January 2017

New Year's Reuse Resolutions

We're in the second week of 2017 and any resolutions that you made are probably still pretty fresh in your mind. This year, some of our blog team members decided to come up with our own reuse themed resolutions. Each of us created an attainable resolution to reduce some of our negative environmental impacts and change some of our wasteful habits. Here's a look at our reuse resolutions.


One of my resolutions this year is to eliminate the use of paper towels and paper napkins in my home. I've stocked my kitchen with rags for wiping up spills and messes, and I made a bunch of fabric napkins out of old cotton scraps. Both of these items are in visible, easy-to-reach spots, which means I'll think of them before I grab their disposable alternatives. 

Interested in making your own cloth napkins? Check DIY Network for a simple tutorial.

Image source: diy network


My reuse resolution for 2017 is to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups that I use. I love a nice hot beverage on these cold Edmonton winter mornings! I try as much as possible to brew my coffee or tea at home and take it to go in a travel mug but there are times that I either run out of time in the morning or just want to treat myself. It's on these occasions that I, more times than not, forget my travel mug at home. Then I always feel guilty when I have to toss my empty cup in the trash. This year, I'm going to make a bigger effort to pack a travel mug with me and have it handy for when I stop at my favourite coffee shop.

Photo credit: Vanessa

My resolution for this year is to borrow, offer, and buy used. I want to make the conscious effort to consider these options thoroughly before consuming non-essentials. If I was picking up a new hobby, do I know of any friends that would be willing to loan me their tools or old sporting equipment? On the same note, I want to openly offer my unused items for friends and family to use rather than have them sit idly in storage. If there are no extras to be borrowed, then I want to exhaust all options of used purchases before I buy new.

Do you have a reuse resolution? Share it in the comments section.

*Happy New Year 2017 image provided by Gallery