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

Friday, 16 December 2016

Quick and Easy Quilted Potholder

I recently took a trip to Pennsylvania for a friend's wedding. She lives smack-dab in Amish country, so every gift shop and market I visited was chock full of quilted crafts. Pot holders, pillows, reusable shopping bags, wall hangings and of course, some beautiful and amazing quilted blankets.

I decided I wanted to try a little bit of quilt-crafting myself, and since winter is upon us, I grabbed some holiday fabric from the Reuse Centre and got to work.

I started out trying to make a fancy star like I'd seen in so many Pennsylvania gift shops, but quickly realized I was in over my head! I started over with a simpler design of diagonal strips of patterned fabric, surrounded by a border of plain red.

This quick, easy project took so little fabric that I probably could have made at least five pot holders from the small rolls I picked up! I used my machine for most of the sewing, but this could easily be done by hand with a little patience.

Instead of purchasing quilt batting for the inside, I used two layers of leftover fleecy fabric that I already had in my fabric stash. The hanging loop is a scrap of ribbon cut out of the shoulder of a shirt, making this project 100% reused.

It doesn't quite rival the meticulously stitched works of art I saw stateside, but I'm pretty pleased with how my little potholder turned out. Maybe I'll even work my way up to fancy stars one of these days, too!

-Sarah (Volunteer)

All photographs provided by Sarah

Monday, 12 December 2016

DIY Reusable Magnetic Advent Calendar

In the fall I encountered an advent calendar that had been put out by a local retail store and it inspired me to make my own version. The tins on the original magnet calendar were pretty small, too small for the kinds of tasty treats I’d want in my own version.

Original Advent Calendar from local retail store

To create my calendar, I needed 24 small containers. I put out a call to my family, friends, and colleagues to give me all their small containers of lotions and potions for my project. I decided I wanted round containers, with a lid, approximately 6-8 cm (2-3”) across, I wasn’t fussy about what the container was made from. Once I had collected 24 containers I was ready to go!

My stock of small round containers

I peeled all the labels off of the containers, most of which came off very nicely with no residue left behind. I also needed to take out all of the liners from lids. I gave the containers and lids a good soak and wash in warm water and dish washing soap. The dish soap cut any oils and gunk left behind by the lotions, hair products, and whatever else had been in the containers.

Removing the foam liner from lids

I chose to use fabric to cover the containers, I had some small pieces in my stash that fit the winter/Christmas theme. To cover the lids, I traced a circle of each container lid on the fabric and cut it out. For the sake of ease and time I only covered the lids with fabric, it seemed like an extra hassle to also cover the sides of the containers. Of course you could also use paper, ribbon, or paint to decorate your containers and lids.

Tracing each lid on festive fabric

I borrowed some fancy paper cutting tools from a friend to cut out numbers and snowflakes from extra scrapbook paper I had kicking around. I contemplated painting on the numbers, but I’m not that great at painting fine details and I was worried I’d mess things up.

Numbers and embellishments I cut out for each lid

With my trusty Mod Podge and foam brush in hand, I coated the top of each lid generously and layered on each specific piece of fabric that I had traced and cut out. Once the fabric was on the top of the lid, I added a layer of  Mod Podge to the top of the fabric. I then added my numbers and embellishments to the wet Mod Podge, and added on more layer of Mod Podge and left everything to dry overnight.

Mod Podged lids with fabric, numbers and embellishments

To make a magnetic base for each container, I used magnetic tape. My goal was to put the calendar up on the fridge, or on the metal closet door in our hallway. You could also use a fancy cut piece of metal, a cookie sheet, or a magnetic whiteboard to display your calendar.

Magnetic strip on the the bottom of each container

Once I added the magnetic strip to each container, I filled each container with tasty treats! I went to the Lindt store and purchased small chocolates. I also bought a gift card to go in the final container for December 24th. When all the containers were filled, I had to play around with matching lids to containers, since I didn’t mark them before I started!

Filled containers and matching lids

I learned a few things along the way* that I may go back and change for the next time but overall I’m happy with how my DIY magnetic advent calendar turned out.

The final product!

Next year, I may alternate candy with interesting kinds of tea, love notes, or vouchers for homemade treats that can be redeemed throughout the upcoming year.

*Here are a few helpful tips that I learned that would make the process a little bit easier:

  • Rough up the glossier plastic lid surfaces with sandpaper
    • I had considered sanding the shiny plastic lids a little to rough up the surface and allow the glue to adhere better but decided against it. Unfortunately, the fabric didn't stick as well to some of the containers with glossier plastic.
  • Full magnet coverage on the bottom of each container
    • I initially cut medium pieces of magnetic tape for the bottom of each container, so that the magnet would fit across the middle of the container but not go out to the edges. This worked for some of the smaller containers, but not for the taller or bigger containers. The larger containers didn't stay up very well and needed more magnetic backing. If I could go back, I’d use a magnetic sheet and cut a circle to fit the whole bottom of each container. I might still do that before we use the calendar again next year.

Kat (Staff)

All images provided by Kat

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Festive Holiday Events!

‘Tis the season for reuse crafting! As the holiday season approaches, it's important to be mindful of the amount of waste created over the holidays. With all the merry festivities comes a mountain of used wrapping paper and purchases of new items, which ends up creating a great amount of waste!

This year, let's try having a Waste-Less Holiday! Celebrate an eco-friendly holiday season by making an effort to decrease our waste before and after the holidays. Instead of buying new, why not head to the Reuse Centre to pick up an artificial tree and deck it out with some creative ornaments? Or, try upcycling Reuse Centre items and create some one of a kind gifts.

To get your creative holiday juices flowing, the Reuse Centre is hosting a number of festive crafting sessions and reuse workshops at the Reuse Centre to provide hands-on holiday reuse crafting. We hope that you will join in the holiday fun!

Free Drop-in Winter Crafting Session

Bring the family for this free crafting session where we will be creating snowmen by using reusable items. This is a great opportunity to get the children engaged with holiday crafting and to check out our holiday reuse ideas that you can make at home. The workshop room will be decorated in reuse Christmas cheer to get you in the holiday mood!

Date: Thursday, December 1st
Time: 4-7pm
Where: Reuse Centre Workshop Room
Ages: Children 5 years and up recommended, parent/guardian must stay to supervise

Image Credit: Craftaholics Anonymous

Deck the Halls DIY (#586371) 

This special reuse workshop is just for adults! Cozy up to the DIY fireplace as we show you how to transform ordinary household items into festive home decor. Repurpose old lightbulbs to make hanging ornaments, craft a wine cork Christmas tree and try out some paper-free gift wrapping alternatives. All craft materials and some light refreshments (tea and cookies) provided.

Date: Thursday, December 8th
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Reuse Centre Workshop Room
Ages: Adult
Cost: $18

Register: through eReg or by calling 311 (course # 586371)

Image Credit:Pink When

All I Want is a Waste-Less Crafty Christmas (#586370)

This reuse workshop is for the whole family. Make a frosty snowman light-up jar, a decorative holiday wreath and Christmas tree ornaments with puzzle pieces. While waiting for your project to dry, try playing one of our winter-themed games, and nibble on some tasty treats. All materials provided. Adult must register and attend with the child(ren) registered in the course.

Date: Saturday, December 10th
Time: 10am -noon
Where: Reuse Centre Workshop Room
Ages: 6 years - Adult
Cost: Child $8 / Adult $15

Register: through eReg or by calling 311 (course #586370)

Image Credit:Club Chica Circle

Happy Holiday Crafting!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Reused Halloween at the Reuse Centre

Halloween has come and gone for another year. That means it's time to put away the costumes and decorations until next year. This year for Halloween, our blog team decided to focus on reuse for our costume ideas. We left the theme of reuse open to interpretation. Our ideas included borrowing an old Halloween costume from a friend or family member, purchasing a second-hand costume, wearing a Halloween costume from a previous year, and creating a new costume from reused or repurposed material. Here's our showcase of reused, repurposed, and upcycled Halloween costumes.


I made this 1880s bustle skirt last year, entirely out of reused materials, though I confess I did buy the pattern new. The dark blue underskirt and white panel are both made from curtains, and the light blue over-skirt is made out of a tablecloth. I already had the lace edging in my sewing stash, from a long ago trip to the Reuse Centre!

The bustle pad (basically a pillow that you strap around your waist under your skirt) is made of an old pillowcase I already had. The blouse came straight from my closet. I reused the costume again this year, and given the time it took to make, you can bet I'll be looking for every excuse to wear it again!


Every year when I think about what I want to be for Halloween, I set a few rules: one is to incorporate my normal wardrobe and supplies at home, as much as possible; the second is to have a work-appropriate outfit.  Restrictions help breed creative solutions and I believe it has made my Halloween costumes thrifty with minimal waste. Here are a few costumes I've created:

Cap'n Crunch

Cruella de Vil

and this year, Olive Oyl

To create Olive Oyl, I safety-pinned a piece of yellow scrap ribbon on a black skirt and pinned cotton ribbon trims around the collar and sleeves of my red blouse. For my mate, Popeye, we taped yellow foam to a black polo shirt, cut up a red place mat for the collar, and borrowed a captain's hat and pipe.


I crafted this Rubik's Cube costume last year and wore it again this year. My goal for the costume was to only use materials that are available at the Reuse Centre. It was very simple to create. I cut off the bottom flaps and three of the top flaps of  an empty moving box and covered the box with black poster paper. I used scrap booking glue runners to hold the paper in place but any glue or tape will work. The colourful squares were made out of file folders! I measured and cut out 6-7 squares in each colour and glued them to the existing black paper. Then I just tied some yarn to the front flap and back of the box. Voilá, I had an affordable and unique Halloween costume made entirely out of reused materials!

We had fun thinking outside of the box creating our Halloween costumes and look forward to reusing them in future years. Do you have any reuse themed costume ideas? Share them in the comments section. 

All photos provided by volunteers and Reuse Centre staff

Vanessa (Staff)

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

October Reuse-It Item - Favourite DIY Halloween Decorations

With Halloween just under a week away, we thought that it's only fitting for this month's Reuse-it item to be our favourite DIY Halloween decorations. 

These DIY projects are easy to make and are great for all ages. Check out our favourite ideas and try some of these on your own, or with friends and family!


These pine cone bats are simple to make and are a great way to use up pine cones laying around your yard before winter starts. All you need is some felt, glue, paper, and googly eyes. Instructions can be found at Fireflies + Mud Pies.

Image Credit: Fireflies + Mud Pies

Creating a monster door is a fun way to add lots of character to the exterior of your house, when you're short on time or have limited supplies. These doors use coloured paper, paper plates, tape, and party streamers. Find out more details on how to create a monster door at GoodtoKnow.

Image Credit: GoodtoKnow


These DIY jar lanterns from Adventure in a Box are gorgeous, and you don't need to be a great artist to make them! Crafters have the option of making their own designs, or using the printable ones from the website. This is a great all-ages craft that looks classy!

Image Credit: Adventure in a Box

Tamara & Lana

Ghost jugs are a simple Halloween decoration that both adults and kids can create. Grab a few 4L empty milk jugs, draw faces on them using permanent markers, and then cut a hole in the back to insert a light. You can find the tutorial at eighteen 25.

A fun variation of this project is to print large letters on each jug to spell out a message or spooky phrase. Another alternative is to add a bit of colour by using coloured permanent markers or a string of coloured lights.

Image Credit: eighteen 25


For those who have more time, these cute upcycled Halloween wine bottles make great accents on a table or shelf. All you need to do is wrap an empty wine bottle with yarn, and then add some felt or ribbon accents. You can make a mummy, Frankenstein, a witch's hat, or anything else you can think of with the yarn colours you have!

Image Credit: Pinterest

What's your favourite DIY Halloween decoration? Share your favourites in the comments section. Happy crafting!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Goblins and Ghosts and Picture Frames, Oh My!

I love the idea of holiday decorating, but I don't have a pinterest-perfect home. Cute knickknacks on tables and ornaments on shelves tend to get shoved aside in favour of functionality.

This is why I've decided to focus on seasonal decorating with picture frames! My walls are never littered with the empty coffee mugs, books, and cat toys that seem to plague all of the horizontal surfaces in my apartment. 

There are so many ways to use picture frames in your decor. Here are a few of my favourites for Halloween!

Image source: g*rated
Halloween Floating Frames

I love how simple and easy these are! Any frame would be great for this project, with the help of a little bit of paint. The best part is that they'd be really easy to repaint and switch out with each season. 

This tutorial from g*rated uses window clings, but if you have frames that could take two pieces of glass, you could easily design and cut out your own shapes from black or patterned paper. 

Image source: eHow
DIY Ghost Face Picture Frames

These spooky ghost faces would be perfect for a Halloween party or haunted house! They're a bit more complicated than the window-cling frames above, but this turorial from eHow actually looks pretty easy. 

Image source: A Diamond in the Stuff
Boo Frames

These cute frames are easy to make, and a great way to use up bits and pieces of scrapbook or wrapping paper!

See the tutorial at A Diamond in the Stuff.

Image source: Twelve on Main
DIY Framed Spiderwebs

Low on time and decorating energy? These quick, easy spiderwebs can be made in a frame of any shape, size, or colour. The tutorial from Twelve on Main uses wooden frames and a staple gun to attach the yarn, but hot glue (or regular glue and a bit of patience) would also do the trick on a metal or plastic frame. 

Image Source: My Humble Home and Garden
Halloween Wreath

I love the detail of this funky Halloween picture frame wreath from My Humble Home and Garden. With a little bit of hunting for the right materials, it would be very easy to create something similar.

If you like the idea, but want something with a bit more of a seasonal autumn theme, there are also lots of great picture frame wreath tutorials online!

-Sarah (Volunteer)