Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Disposables to Ditch From Your Beauty Routine

Back in April, I shared a post on 10 Disposables to Toss From Your Kitchen. As I was writing it, I got to thinking about all of the different disposable products in my home. Today, I'm sharing 6 disposables you can ditch from your beauty routine.
Safety razors produce very little waste. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Disposable Razors
Disposable razors are big chunks of plastic that we throw away every month or so, even though only the blade is dull. If you want a smooth shave with hardly any waste, consider a safety razor. They cost more at the outset, but will save you a lot of money over time. 

If you're not ready to take that step, trade in your disposable razors for a sturdier model with replaceable blade cartridges. These produce far less waste than fully disposable models.

Facial Cleansing Wipes
Get back to basics with a facecloth and your cleanser of choice. Disposable wipes end up in the landfill, and so-called "flushable" wipes are also pretty bad for sewers, septic systems and waterways.

Ditch the makeup remover wipes by embracing the humble facecloth. Just pair it with your makeup remover of choice (in a recyclable bottle) or to reduce your waste even further, try making your own at home. Worried about mascara stains? Buy dark colours! 

Some companies even make reusable makeup remover cloths out of microfiber that claim to clean with just water.

Ditch the single-use cleansing wipes and use a facecloth instead. Image from Public Domain Pictures.
Cotton Balls and Cotton Pads
Okay, so you might want to keep some of these around in your first aid kit, but our good friend the facecloth can do pretty much everything that a cotton ball can do, from removing makeup to applying toner. A dry facecloth corner can even help you get the perfect amount of smudge in your smokey eyeshadow.

For trickier jobs like taking off nail polish, try using a soft rag with your favourite remover.

Makeup Applicators
A decent set of makeup brushes will last you for years. They're washable and reusable, and generally give you more control over your eyeshadow than those cheap foam-and-plastic wands. Once you've got your brush, make an effort to buy brands that don't include the applicators to avoid that waste.

If the thought of trading in your concealer sponge for a brush gives you heart palpitations, remember that sponges are washable too! Even if they seem like they are meant to be single-use, you can wash and reuse them many times.

Makeup brushes are washable and reusable alternatives to disposable applicators. Image from Pixabay.
Cotton Swabs
Whether you are using them for cleaning or applying makeup, all those disposable cotton swabs are adding waste to the environment. Instead, use a reusable alternative, such as an eyeshadow brush to apply your makeup while reducing waste.

Face Masks
Single-use, individually-packaged face mask sheets seem to be the latest beauty trend. Aside from being kind of creepy looking, they're super wasteful! Next time your skin needs a boost, reach for a clay or cream mask that comes in a recyclable or reusable container, or try an easy DIY home recipe

What disposables have you ditched from your morning or before-bed routine? Share your ideas in the comments!

-Sarah (Volunteer)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Reuse Centre's 10th Anniversary Celebration!

We Turned 10!

“The fact that we are standing here today, 10 years later, accepting more donations, serving more customers, expanding our partnerships, growing our volunteer base and offering educational programming is a testament to the idea that Edmonton residents are eager to drive the concept of reuse in a direction that is unique and desired.”
- Kristen Arnot,  Reuse Centre Operations Coordinator 

Edmontonians flocked to the Reuse Centre on July 8, 2017 to help celebrate its big 1-0. With over 250 in attendance, guests were invited to participate in family friendly activities and enjoy an assortment of treats that celebrated the Reuse Centre and Edmonton’s reuse community.

Scavenger Hunt

Guests were encouraged to explore, discover and learn about the Reuse Centre and what role the Reuse Centre plays in making Edmonton a waste conscious city. To complete the scavenger hunt, guests found clues by participating in activities, making it a fun filled, interactive experience!

“I really enjoyed volunteering at the Reuse Centre, especially for the wonderful occasion of its 10th birthday. I loved talking to people and was really amazed to see so many people interested in donating and buying the reusable items... I would definitely love to volunteer at the Reuse Centre more in the future.”
- Monisha, Master Composter Recycler 


Children and adults were invited to drop-in and upcycle Reuse Centre items such as straws, ribbon, yarn, pop tabs and more to make DIY Whimsical Wands to twirl in celebration. Creativity and imagination soared and glittered to new heights!

Worm Wiggling Fun

Master Composter Recyclers and their red wiggler friends made an appearance to educate guests on composting at home and offered compost tea bags for guests to take home.

Master Composter Recyclers
Photo Credit: City of Edmonton

“Rebecca and I talked to over 70 people about composting, recycling and worms. One lady came up to us asking if we knew anyone who wanted worms and at the same time another lady came up asking if we knew where she could get worms. To say the least we immediately introduced them to each other and let them work out the details...All round a very good day!”
- Carolyn, Master Composter Recycler Volunteer

Facility Tours

Volunteers offered tours every 30 minutes for those who wanted to learn more about the behind the scenes of the Reuse Centre. Guests were able to check out the drop-off area, sorting room, storefront and workshop room, while learning the history and fun facts of the Reuse Centre.

Photo Booth

Guests used the hashtag #reusecentre as they snapped photos at the photo booth made entirely out of reuse material.

R E U S E  C E N T R E  Art Piece

Glue guns were hot as guests collaborated on a reuse art piece to be displayed in the store. Each guest made their mark by glue gunning a few reused materials to the art piece.

‘E’ from R E U S E  C E N T R E Art Piece
Photo Credit: City of Edmonton

“Thank you very much for this opportunity. I was in charge of decorating the letters with donated items, such as pieces of puzzles, crayons and yarn. It was my first time in my life to see and use a glue gun - wonderful! The children may have enjoyed the crafting, but I might have enjoyed it the most.”
- Yoshie, Master Composter Recycler Volunteer


Popcorn, cupcakes and a reuse themed cake were distributed to guests to keep their energy high during the event. Plus, let’s be serious: it’s not celebration without cake!

Volunteer handing out cupcakes
Photo Credit: City of Edmonton

Reuse Centre themed Cake
Photo Credit: City of Edmonton

All in all, the 10th Anniversary Celebration was a success! It brought the community together and showcased the current, and still growing, passion for reuse that runs through the hearts of Edmontonians. Here’s to another 10 years!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

DIY Fabric Scrap Wallet

I've been sewing a lot of garments lately, which means I have a lot of smallish, oddly-shaped fabric scraps lying around. After scouring Pinterest for a simple, practical, scrap-busting project, I decided to try my hand at this photo-only tutorial from The lack of instructions might make things tricky for a new sewist, so I decided to share my version, with written steps.

What you'll need
  • 2 small rectangles of fabric (approximately 3" by 5")
  • 2 large rectangles of fabric (approximately 5" by 6")
  • 1 button
  • 1 piece of elastic cord (approximately 2.5") OR 1 hair elastic
  • Thread
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Optional - sewing machine
  • Optional - iron 
I used my sewing machine for this project, but it's small enough that it would still be very easy to do by hand. If you're new to sewing, check out this great guide on hand-stitching basics from Sew4Home.

Pressing folds and seams with your iron will make your project look neater and more professional, but it's not strictly necessary. Always make sure you're using the right temperature settings for your fabric. If you're not sure what your fabric is made of, start with low heat and work your way up until the fabric holds a crease.

Step 1
Take one small rectangle and fold one of the long edges under, about 1/2". Press with a hot iron to hold the fold, and topstitch to hem this edge. Repeat with the second small rectangle. These will form the pockets on the inside of your wallet.

Step 2
Matching the raw 5" edges, lay your pocket pieces on top of one of the larger rectangles with right sides (the patterned or nice sides) facing up. The hemmed edges will face each other, with about an inch of space in the middle.

Step 3
Lay your second large rectangle on top, with the right side facing down, so that your pocket pieces are sandwiched in between. Match all of the edges as best you can and pin 3 sides in place. Leave one of the short sides open for the next step.

Step 4
Place your elastic in the center of the short side that you left open. If using a hair elastic, pinch the center and place it so that it's about half in and half out of the fabric sandwich. If using a cut length of elastic cord, fold it in half and place the looped end inside your sandwich (between the fabric layers). Leave the tails sticking out and pin the last side in place.

Step 4
Sew around the edges of your sandwich, making sure to leave a gap in the end opposite your elastic. I used a seam allowance of 1/4". To get sharp, crisp corners on your wallet, clip the corners as shown in the ninth photo of the tutorial. 

I didn't clip the corners, so you'll see later that my corners have more of a rounded edge. If you want a really rounded edge, sew rounded corners instead of sharp ones and clip.

Step 5
Flip your sandwich right side out through the hole you left. Make sure to push corners and seam out. Fold the raw edges of the hole inside and press your seams so that the outer edges all lay flat and smooth.

Step 6
Topstitch about 1/8" from the edge around the outside of your wallet. This will close the gap and help keep all of the layers in place. Make sure you can fit your cards inside the pockets! Depending on whether or not your fabric has stretch and on how closely you followed the measurements described above, you may want to topstitch closer to or further from the edge.

Step 7
Fold your wallet shut and place your button so that the elastic loop can stretch over it easily, but tightly enough so that the wallet stays closed. Mark the spot and sew your button on, making sure to stitch only through the outside layer of fabric so that the stitches are hidden inside your pocket. If you sew through the pocket, you won't be able to get your cards in properly. 

Voila! You're done and you now have a custom, one-of-a-kind wallet to store your cards.

- Sarah (Volunteer)
All images provided by Sarah

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Water Station Recyclables

As the weather warms dramatically, we're spending every day outdoors soaking up the sun. But there are only so many popcicles you can feed a toddler to cool off before chaos ensues! So I've raided our recycling bin once again to create a water wall against a fence for hours of cooling fun.

It's best to find a fairly large bin to collect the water, otherwise your hose will be running non-stop. I found an old, long, flat Rubbermaid bin that works perfectly. Using 1/4" screws, I attached large plastic tubs to the fence above the flat bin and loosely enough to let the tub rotate. Make very sure you're not introducing screws farther than the depth of your fence, creating a dangerous situation for your neighbours!
Both of these large plastic tubs are affixed loosely enough to rotate pouring water from one to the other and into the bin at the bottom.
With a second plastic tub, I first drilled holes in the bottom so the water would slowly drain out.
Use a very small drill bit to make holes in the bottom of a container, allowing water to slowly drain. My son also discovered that adding sand to the containers slowed the draining process. How exciting to make these small discoveries!

I cut the bottom off a juice container and positioned it firmly upside-down so that it could fill if the lid were shut or drain when opened.
This orange juice jug is perfect to work fine motor skills by opening and closing the stubborn lid. When done successfully, my son is rewarded with a gush of water.

I used zip ties and eye screws, both found in our tool room, to fix an old soap bottle against the fence.
I added red food dye to the bottle for some colour mixing. 
The station is adjacent to the sandbox, so my son can play with his toys and make mud pies to his heart's content. I've since planted some ground cover around the area so the roots can suck up the spills.
I don't have to water the plants in this little corner of our yard thanks to all the spillage!

We've also introduced food colouring, to the amazement of my son. I put a few drops of each colour into each container and let him mix away.
The water's trajectory from bin to bin, colours mixing along the way.

What materials would you introduce to stimulate a budding hydrologist? Comment below to help grow our water wall this year!

Ellen (Volunteer) 

*All photos provided by Ellen 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Father's Day Gift Ideas - Reuse Style

With Father’s Day right around the corner, you may be wondering what kind of creative gift you could give – I’ve suggested three of my favourites. These gifts are not only thoughtful, but also incorporate a reuse theme! Another added bonus, is that these gifts shouldn’t take too long to make.

Recycled Tie Photo Album

Does your Dad have a few ties hanging in the back of his closest that he no longer wears? This tie photo album is a great way to use them to create a meaningful gift. You can print out some photos of you and your Dad to put in the album as well – he will love it!

This idea does require you to purchase a 4” x 6” photo album, unless you have one at home already. Other supplies required include sew on snaps and fusible interfacing.

For the full tutorial, check out

Displaying Tiephotoalbum_lilblueboo.jpg
 Image Credit:

 Dad’s Coupon Book

I love the simple yet thoughtful idea behind this gift. My dad is always telling me that all he wants is to spend time with me rather than material gifts. With the coupon book, you can suggest fun activities that the two of you can do together, or perhaps chores where you can offer to help.

The main item you will need for this gift is paper to use for the coupons. Old newspapers or pages from a book that’s no longer being used work great. Essentially, all you need to do is cut the paper into a number of small rectangles (using a ruler to measure them, so they’re the same size), choose one to be the cover, and add the activities/items you’d like to share with your father on each page. Feel free to personalize the pages and jazz them up a little! Then you can either staple the pages or punch holes in them and loop a piece of string/twine through so the book holds together. Check out Crafting a Green World for full details.

Displaying dadscouponbook_craftingagreenworld.jpg
 Image Credit: Crafting a Green World

No-Sew Slipper Socks

These cozy socks are a perfect gift for anyone, really. My dad loves slippers, so naturally this is one of the first thoughts I had. This idea involves adding a sole to an old pair of socks to make them into slippers.

Items you will need include sueded fabric and fusible webbing (a material that bonds fabrics together).

Standing on a piece of cardboard in your chosen socks, trace and cut out an outline of your feet. After you cut out the cardboard template, trace the pattern onto the sueded fabric and fusible webbing with a sewing pencil; cut those out as well. Position the cardboard template inside the sock where you’d like the sole to go, place the fusible webbing over the sock, and then the sueded fabric at the top. Iron according to the instructions that come with the webbing, and then remove cardboard. Voila, you have a new pair of slippers!

Visit for full instructions.

 Displaying nosewslippersocks_marthastewart.jpg
 Image Credit:
Happy Father's Day! 

- Tamara (Volunteer)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Reuse-It Featured Item - Cables

Old computer and phone cords can be a nuisance, cluttering up storage bins and becoming a tangled mess with old electronics. These annoying cables can actually be used to create beautiful and useful items around the house. Here our some examples of unique and practical ways to reuse and repurpose old computer and electronics cables.


With the wide variety of colours, thicknesses, and even patterns that electrical cables have, they make a great material for any kind of yarn or string-based art. This crocheted wall hanging is made entirely out of used wires from old telephone and electronics cords!

Displaying crochet-flowers.jpg
Image credit: Crochet Concupiscence


While there are many ways to up-cycle cables, this idea posted on is my favourite. You can see from the supplies list that there is nothing that you would need that you wouldn't be able to find at any craft store!


* Epoxy resin, clear formula for crafting or jewelry-making

* Cables

* Mold release and conditioner


* Resin mixing cups, stir sticks, and brushes set

* Nail file with shine and buff surfaces or ultra-fine sandpaper

* Kraft paper or newspaper to protect your worktable

* Masking tape

* Extra straight pin or toothpick to position the items in the resin

With a finished project that looks like this, it's a great way to spend a rainy weekend indoors crafting beautiful jewelry!

Displaying image.png
Image Credit:


Although it might take a bit of time, the end result looks super cool: DIY coasters out of old cables.

These are two good websites with instructions that look relatively straightforward to follow. Both of them involve using a piece of strong tape to stick on the start of your coil, and then continue wrapping around.

1. Mother Jones, uses materials that most people will likely have at home already.

2. Sierra Club 
This tutorial explains how to braid the colorful strands found inside a piece of cable for a unique presentation. I like the ironing described at the end. This is a smart way to prevent the coaster from coming apart.

Displaying cablecoaster.jpg
Image Source: Sierra Club


When your rat’s nest of cables gets packed up and moved to three different addresses all while modem, firewire, and telephone technology advances by several generations, it’s time to let go of the mess. I decided to make some jewelry with my embarrassingly large stash of unused wires.

I picked the oldest looking cable in my stash and cut each end, then sliced into the plastic coating and ripped it off. I was left with four sets of two wires wound around each other: red, blue, green, and grey.

Next, I tediously unwound the sets of wires. This took a long time and flirted with the line between peacefully therapeutic and utterly maddening. I folded the eight kinky wires in half and used just a few of the wires to wrap around the neck and make a knot. Then I simply started wrapping wires around the group. I alternated between wrapping one at a time and two at a time for a different effect. 

When my piece reached the desired length for a necklace, I used one wire to tie a few knots at the end. I used the longest piece of wire to create a makeshift bar to slip into the loop. It works, but I may replace the bar with a bead which would be sturdier.

I’m calling this craft the "Blast from the Past" upcycled necklace because not only is it retro looking but it also invoked memories of campground friendship bracelets as a child. Playful, unique, and thrifty, my kind of jewelry!
Image Source: Ellen


This cute basket is made of coloured cables that were destined for the Eco Station. You can use the basket for pretty much anything, keys, jewelry, or even spare change. For details on how to make your own, visit

Image Source:

Share your thoughts on ways to reuse cables in the comments section.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Kid's Activity Mat: Upcycled Bed Sheet

Usually my old towels and stained clothing get broken down into cleaning rags, but bed sheets present a dilemma in terms of absorbency. They’re simply not great at cleaning. So when I encountered a tenacious bright blue paint stain on a fitted, king-sized sheet, I was forced to get creative on how to repurpose this item.

Meanwhile, I was preparing for a family road trip wherein two children under the age of four would spend 25+ hours in a car making picnic-type pit stops only to end up at the final destination to spend each day hanging about in the outdoors, picnic-style. Are you following me?

Enter the homemade picnic play mat!!

This craft requires: 

  • Fabric paint/markers 
  • Sewing machine and the ability to sew in a straight line 
  • Thread 


  • scrap fabric for trim 
  • scrap fabric for corners if using a fitted sheet 

I began by cutting out the elastic on each corner to allow the sheet to lie flat. Given I was working with a king-sized sheet, I should have cut the remaining flat piece into a rectangle but I didn’t want to lose the extra space so I kept it as is.

Next, I traced my design using a marker or pencil. Since we were embarking on a road trip, I drew a series of streets with landmarks around them before inviting my three year old son to help colour them in and add detail.

The transformation. Image Source: Ellen
We included a volcano, fire station, construction site, mountains, mine, boulders, lake, forest, and hospital. All the most important things, in my son’s opinion. I packed the fabric markers along with the blanket and we kept the artwork incomplete so we could invite our friends to continue the process while on vacation.

Highlights. Image Source: Ellen
If you’ve been working with a rectangle, you can simply fold the edges and sew a seam to prevent the fabric from fraying. Since I had four gaping corners, I filled them with some Canadian road trip fabric (how perfect!) and finished the entire thing with a bright binding along the edges.

Image Source: Ellen 
The final result is far from complete but will evolve as we spend time on it. It was dragged through seven states and two provinces and will now be used for picnics and play in our backyard and local parks.

How do you use old bedding? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

- Ellen (Volunteer)

Friday, 5 May 2017

Edmontonians Breathe New Life into Pre-Loved Clothes

This past weekend, Change of Clothes hosted their third annual Clothing Swap, Repairathon, Upcycling, and Panelists event, the culmination of a week of Fashion Revolution events. Change of Clothes shares in the Fashion Revolution goals of awareness, positivity, and participation by providing a space for Edmontonians to extend the lives of their wardrobes through mending, swapping, upcycling, and donating. Change of Clothes also shares in the Reuse Centre's goals of diverting waste from landfills; in only two years, Change of Clothes has processed over 700 pounds of clothing through repair, swapping, upcycling, and donation!

When Claire Theaker-Brown returned to Edmonton after living in China, she felt that there was a lack of community focus around sustainable fashion. Edmonton already had the repairathon, random clothing swaps, craftspeople focusing on upcycling, and recipients of clothing donations; however, there lacked a hub to bring all of these people together. This sparked Change of Clothes, a space for makers to share knowledge and resources while fostering a community where shoppers and brands are brought together in one physical space.

Change of Clothes 2017's Panelists: Crystal Tracy, Janna Stewart, Brittany Nugent, and Claire Theaker-Brown.
Photo Credit: Piyush Patel, instagram
This year's event kicked off with a panel discussion featuring: Brittany Nugent of the Publicity Room, representing the consumer; Crystal Tracy, the creator of beautiful children's clothing at Sweet Jane Studio; Janna Stewart, owner and operator of Cinder & Smoke women's fashion and the newly created Arturo Denim; and Change of Clothes co-founder Claire Theaker-Brown, also founder of Flatter:Me Belts. The panel provided an opportunity to hear about the struggles and successes of makers within this community of sustainable fashion and allowed members of the public to engage in honest discussion.

Wading into the waters of sustainable fashion can be intimidating. As Claire aptly points out, there are two words that really freak people out: "sustainable" and "fashion." But it doesn't need to be so complex. Fashion doesn't need to be fancy, expensive, or exclusive. And sustainability is about "progress, not perfection", as Claire often repeats throughout the panel discussion. One sure way to know you're making a difference is simply by extending the life of any consumable, offers Claire.

A great example of this was included in the day's activities. The House of Sew, Jillijade Jewellery, and Makers & Mentors were on hand to help participants upcycle jewelry and turn old t-shirts into fashionable headbands, as modeled here by participant Adam.

Enjoying some relaxed crafting with his crew, Adam rocks the repurposed t-shirt headband. Photo Credit: Ellen 
Cathy Jackson of Makers & Mentors showcased another beautiful example of upcycled t-shirts in the form of a stylish skirt. Photo Credit: Ellen
Kristen, an Edmontonian attending the event, believes we already have so much and don't need to consume more. "Sharing is caring," she jokes, explaining a sense of joy in the swap when you release, reminding yourself to let it go. She is no stranger to swapping. In university, she and her friends created what they called "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Dress", by time-sharing one versatile dress among the group. This spin on renting is a tenet of the Fashion Revolution's 7 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, rent, research, repurpose, repair.

Kristen proudly showcasing her swap finds. Photo Credit: Ellen 
A die-hard vintage hunter and self-professed denim enthusiast, Piyush frequently circulates through Edmonton's second-hand clothing venues. He sees the value in pre-loved clothes and has a keen eye for particular textiles, patterns, and brands. Piyush has fostered a close relationship with his tailor who helps him see his creative ideas to fruition, whether they be simple hemming or outlandish DIY concepts. At this year's event, he made use of the repairathon to add a patch, created by a Toronto designer that he recently acquired on Etsy, to a denim jacket. If you don't have the skill, resources, or interest in sewing yourself, take a page from Piyush's book and utilize the community around you!

Piyush has more control over design, material, and fabric when he shops second-hand
and repurposes or mends special pieces. Photo Credit: Ellen
Kassia, a veggie lifestyle blogger, gushes about the Change of Clothes yearly event, claiming it's the best swap in the city! She not only feels better giving her pre-loved clothes a second life, but maintains that some of her most valued pieces have come from this particular swap. Kassia explains that as a poor student, she sought to fulfill her glam style with the cheapest, most accessible stuff. What she noticed was instead a closet full of junk. As she "grew up" (her words!) she began leading a plant-based diet and began researching every aspect of her life, realizing that cheap clothes were not necessarily more economical.

Kassia finds classic pieces by swapping what no longer works for her wardrobe. Photo Credit: Ellen 
This is the second time I've heard this idea, as panelist Brittany Nugent affirmed, "I don't make enough money to buy cheap clothes." She was speaking of her own journey into sustainable fashion and I admit, the concept took my brain a few beats to understand. The idea is pretty simple: buying cheap clothes is not only unsustainable, but it's throwing your own money away. Cost-wise, it makes more sense to buy fewer items, being more intentional and less impulsive with our purchases. Each piece may cost more but by buying quality items, we ensure a longer lifespan. Worried about the shelf-life of fashion trends? That's where repurposing (upcycling) and swapping come in handy. Other options include renting current fashions or vintage shopping.

What's more, intentional shopping, by design, eliminates impulsivity. It requires research and thought. It requires asking the difficult questions and possibly writing a letter to your favourite brands asking who made the clothes. As Claire explained during the panel discussion, for her, it's less about where the clothes are made and more about who made them. Whatever your main goals, as a consumer, the power is yours. "I'm voting with my dollars," says Brittany who makes the decision to spend with retailers when she knows the story behind the clothes. "We've lost the value of our clothes," says Janna. It's time we rethink this.

These are the exact reasons Chelsey mends her damaged clothing. She believes repairing a favourite piece not only prolongs its life and allows her to continue enjoying it, but she also finds it much cheaper than buying a new item. She focuses on selecting clothes that will last year after year to get their full wear and mends items when necessary.

Chelsey has damaged items mended to extend their life. She also has clothing tailored to alter their style enough to bring them into current fashion. Photo Credit: Ellen
Claire asserts, "building a sustainable fashion community is not going to happen out of guilt." Happily, Change of Clothes has provided a space to meet the motivations of anyone, from a sense of duty to simple economics. And with numbers growing steadily each year, Claire believes there could be a need for the event to run twice a year. They've got a great space at the Ritchie Community Hall and a great base of volunteers. So if you're interested in learning more or engaging with the community, reach out by tweet or instagram!

- Ellen (Volunteer)

Monday, 1 May 2017

Puzzles from the Past: An Upcycle Tutorial

This past holiday break, I reinvigorated my love of puzzles, and to my delight, my three year old son caught the bug too. We’re now ploughing our way through puzzles of all shapes and sizes and I’ll certainly go broke feeding this hobby. Did you know The Reuse Centre has puzzles for every ability level? Not only that, but the Centre offers many materials to get crafty and personalize some puzzles for a special event or person!
The Reuse Centre's typical stock of calendars. Availability may change but it's a safe bet that you'll have lots of calendars and old puzzles to take home after a visit to the Reuse Centre. Image Source: Ellen
With this in mind, I’ll show you how to transform an outdated calendar into several puzzles. I’ll be using a Cricut cutting machine (similar to a Silhouette) but will give you steps to complete the puzzle with scissors and some determination (See Scissors Approach section at the end). Let’s begin.

Puzzles from the Past: An Upcycle Tutorial


  • Cricut and accessories
  • .svg file of puzzle outlines (try this free option from Bird’s Cards
  • Old calendar images 
  • Large, thin cardboard similar to cereal box (not too thick!)
  • Craft glue or glue stick 
  • Mod Podge (optional) 

  1. Download an .svg file of the puzzle cuts, upload it into your Cricut Design Space, and prepare the image to be cut. 
    I chose 8" x 8" as dictated by my largest piece of cardboard. If you need help with your Cricut or Silhouette, visit the many online resources available. Image Source: Ellen
  2. Separate the calendar pages and select an image you’d like to use. Don't neglect the back cover of your calendar where you'll often find thumbnail sized photos of all 12 images. These tiny versions of your photos are helpful while assembling your puzzle. 
    These tiny photos of each month provide a nice sneak peak of the final puzzle once completed! Image Source: Ellen
  3. Place the desired puzzle image on the cutting mat and let your machine do the work. 
    Cricut Machine cutting the calendar image. Image Source: Ellen
  4. Cut a thin piece of cardboard to your puzzle’s size. A regular cereal box worked well for this puzzle. Anything thicker might not cut properly by your machine.  
  5. Place the cardboard on the mat and cut the same puzzle pieces using your cutting machine.  
  6. Match the cardboard puzzle pieces to the image pieces and glue together. 
    I simply used a homemade Mod Podge mixture to glue the calendar image to the cardboard, then coated the final piece with the mixture. If you're skipping step #7, you can use craft glue with a paint brush, or your finger or a glue stick to fix the pieces together.
  7. (Optional) Use Mod Podge to cover each piece for rigidity and longevity. I used a homemade mix of white craft glue and water (1/3 cup water to 1 cup glue). Cover the pieces with the mixture on both sides then set to dry. I used a wire basket placed upside down and let my space heater help the process! 
    Glued and Mod Podged puzzle pieces drying on a wire rack. Image Source: Ellen
  8. After the drying process, the pieces may bow slightly. I put my puzzle together loosely, covered with a large book, then weighted the book with soup cans. Make sure your pieces are completely dry before this flattening process! 

Scissors Approach without Cricut Cutting Machine:

If you do not have a cutting machine, first glue your cardboard and calendar image together, then simply print your blank puzzle outline at your desired size and loosely tape it to your glued calendar image. It’s best to use large puzzle pieces when cutting by hand as the curves and edges are tedious to manage. Use your sharpest scissors or X-acto knife to cut along the lines of the blank puzzle image. As you cut, the blank puzzle sheet should fall away. Optional: Mod Podge for strength and durability.

I accidentally cut my cardboard piece backwards so that the cereal box image was facing outward and the blank, brown side was glued to my calendar image. This turned out to be a very happy accident since the cereal box was coincidentally cut to display a race car making my puzzle reversible—not to mention highly desirable to a car-loving three year old! Two-for-one! 
Backside of my puzzle: Accidentally awesome! Image Source: Ellen
The puzzle doesn't click into place the way a commercially-built puzzle does, but the customization possibilities make this upcycle craft well worth the effort! When you're done making all 12 of your calendar images, look around your house for other puzzle upcycle possibilities!

- Ellen (Volunteer)

Friday, 21 April 2017

10 Disposables to Toss From Your Kitchen

Earth Day is just around the corner, which means it's a great time to think about how we can live more sustainable lives. Here at the Reuse Centre, we're all about making good use of the items that we have in new and creative ways. To me, "reuse" also means making choices to avoid single-use items wherever possible.

I looked around the one area in my home that produces the most waste--the kitchen--and came up with these 10 everyday disposables you can toss from your life!

Paper Towels and Napkins
Keep a stock of rags within easy reach for mopping up spills around the house. Be extra thrifty and cut them from old, holey t-shirts that you were going to throw out anyway!

Paper Napkins
Who said cloth napkins were just for dinner parties and fancy folk? Buy a set of cheap fabric napkins for every day use, or make your own from old fabric scraps with this DIY Network tutorial.

Don't forget to say "No napkins, please!" next time you're at the drive-thru!

Make a shareable party box! Image source: Lifehacker
Single-Use Dishes
Disposable plates, cups and cutlery are a convenience item we often turn to when the party gets big, or far away from home. Avoid the waste at your next picnic. Thrift some extra dishes and cutlery on the cheap and start a party box to share with friends.

If you have to use disposables, stick to recycled paper where possible.

Say no to single-use straws at restaurants and at home. It's okay for your lips to touch the rim of a drinking glass, I promise!

If you love drinking out of straws, consider investing in metal or glass reusable ones.

Produce Bags
Most of us wash our produce before we eat it, so ditch the "protective" plastic bag and let your celery get up close and personal with that carton of cereal in your shopping cart. Use reusable mesh produce bags to keep items like loose apples or green beans together for the cashier

Shopping Bags
How could I talk about produce bags without talking about regular plastic shopping bags? Don't limit your reusable bags to the grocery store - take them to the mall, to summer markets, and especially to the Reuse Centre!

Image Source: The Art of Doing Stuff
Plastic Wrap
Stock your kitchen with storage containers for keeping leftovers, or try a plastic-wrap alternative like beeswax fabric, which you can buy online or make yourself out of cotton scraps.

Water Bottles
We're lucky to live in Edmonton, where clean and delicious drinking water comes out of the tap. Skip the vending machine and carry a reusable water bottle to help you stay hydrated through the day.

Quick and easy snack baggies. Image Source: The DIY Mommy
Sandwich Baggies
Washable snack baggies are a great alternative to plastic sandwich baggies. They're not common in stores, but easy to buy online or to make. Check out this tutorial from The DIY Mommy.

Coffee Cups
Most coffee shops are happy to fill up your mug, whether that's your fancy travel tumbler, or the "#1 Boss" mug you keep at the office. Many shops even offer a discount when you bring your own cup.

What disposables have you eliminated from your life? Share your reusable alternatives in the comments!

- Sarah (Volunteer)