Month: May 2013

How we turned an old beer case into a unique seat

DIY beer crate seat

A project my fellow blogger friends Fräulein Schön, Chriscovery and my husband and I worked on last week: A seat made from an old beer case for two very good friends of ours. We bought the beer on a weekend trip to Hessen and we took the crate with the empty bottles back home with us only to realize the bottle shops in this state of Germany wouldn’t take it back. The man in the shop offered to throw it out for me, but I knew there was something I had been wanting to do for ages: Turn a beer case into a unique seat. And Fräulein Schön had the same idea. So we finally got started with this.

The teamwork couldn’t have been better: My husband went to the hardware store with me, we bought wood and got it cut into the right shape so that it would fit on the beer case (We got it cut two centimeters longer on each side). Then my husband nailed little pieces of wood (hardware shop leftovers or any sort of wood leftovers would do) on one side of the wood. That way the wooden surface doesn’t slide when you sit on it.

This is how the DIY beer crate seat looked in the beginning.

This is how the DIY beer crate seat looked in the beginning.

This goes on the bottom side of the seat cover. All you need is leftover wood, a hammer and nails

This goes on the bottom side of the seat cover. All you need is leftover wood, a hammer and nails

We brought it over to Fräulein Schön and Chriscovery and they put lining on top of the seat cover (You can use any material that makes the wooden surface a bit more comfortable) and waterproof fabric on it.

Et voilà, our beer crate seat. Unfortunately it was too dark to take a better pic.

Et voilà, our beer crate seat. Unfortunately it was too dark to take a better pic.

And then we filled up the beer case with new beer, brought it over to our friends’ party and they ended up with a unique souvenir.

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Getting creative with old plastic bags

DIY plastic bag book covers and postcards

Can you remember my old post about ironing plastic bags? Ironing plastic bags turns them into a wax-like, hard material you can even sew together with your sewing machine. Here are two examples of what I did with my unique plastic bag fabric: I turned one plastic bag (which I got from a candy shop in Paris a long time ago) into a unique book/note-book cover. I just cut it into shape, put a bit of glue on the note-book, wrapped the plastic fabric around it and let the note-book dry for five minutes. It helps when you put something heavy on it. I gave DIY note-book to a friend as a birthday present the same day.

a unique DIY plastic bag bookcover

a unique DIY plastic bag book cover

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DIY plastic bag postcard

Another interesting looking bag from an Indian shop got turned into an XXL postcard for two of my friends who were having a housewarming party that weekend. I just cut out a postcard from an old carton, cut the plastic fabric into shape and glued everything together. Pretty easy, isn’t it?

Getting creative with candy wrappers and cereal boxes

DIY candy wrapper bookmarks

For a long time I did something that might not sound too unusual to some of you – I threw old candy wrappers out. They didn’t have any value to me and I never even wondered what else you could do with them. But then things changed: I didn’t want to buy candy anymore because of the amount of unnecessary packaging that comes with individually wrapped chocolates, lollies and so on. So it was goodbye candy.

When I was in New York and my project of avoiding plastic altogether had just come to an end, however, I gave in to my candy cravings for a day. I ended up with lots of unnecessary, but to some extend interesting looking candy wrappers. I wondered what I could do with them and started looking for ideas online. It took me a bit of time (and a few crazy moments) until I actually googled “what to do with old candy wrappers”. And this is the story of how I managed to eat and craft at the same time and got the idea to blog about DIY candy wrapper bookmarks.

Through Trash Backwards I found a tutorial for cereal box bookmarks on myplumpudding that inspired me. However, I decided I would develop this fantastic idea a bit further, as I happened to find cereal wrapper bookmarks on Etsy (discovered this recently thanks to this interesting blog.) So I cut out a bookmark from an old cardboard box (It doesen’t have to be an old cereal box, it can be any kind of old cardboard) and glued the candy wrapper around it. And that was all I did. It took me five minutes, apart from the tiny bit of glue I used it didn’t cost me anything and my friends got a pretty unique souvenir from The States.

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Goodbye refillable jugs

EU plans to ban refillable olive oil jugs

Last week’s headline: In an alleged effort to ”protect“ consumers that might otherwise suffer from mislabeled minor quality olive oil the European Commission plans to ban refillable olive oil jugs/bottles in restaurants. From next year on there will only be individually packaged miniature bottles on restaurant’s tables. There are no measures planned for vinegar or other condiments.

In my opinion this decision will not only inevitably lead to more trash, but also to more food waste, as the contents of these bottles would have to be thrown out if people didn’t use them up. On top of that it’s a law small producers of olive oil will most likely suffer from the most as they aren’t exactly known for producing travel-size bottles.

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So far nobody can foresee what’s going to happen. Are restaurants gonna ignore it? How are customres going to react? And how much additional unnecessary packaging and food waste will we end up with because of this law? So what’s your opinion on that? What are you gonna do when you go out for dinner next year? Let me know.

For more information on this topic read the BBC’s article on their website or the (German) article on Sueddeutsche.de. P.S. Read the comments under the Süddeutsche article!

Inspiring ideas from the www

Ever since I started paying attention to packaging, I’ve been using the internet as a source for ideas. At the beginning I focussed on finding ways to avoid packaging altogether. But when I realized I wouldn’t be able to live a life completely without packaging, I tried to find ways to do something useful with my trash rather than throw it out. So I started turning myself and my friends into fridge magnets (not kidding), I made re-usable napkins, tissues and tissue boxes out of fabric, I cut out “proper” cotton pads from old t-shirts and I even ironed plastic bags to turn them into “plastic bag fabric”. I also re-used old tins and jars for all kinds of different things – as food and drink containers, pen holders, vases or flower pots. Here is a little selection of what happened in my appartement:

Creativity is contagious – Homemade cordials and flavoured spirits made by my Aussie superhero husband.

I use pretty looking tins for all kinds of things - as pen holders for example. Works well with stuff from other countries :-)
I use pretty looking tins for all kinds of things – as pen holders for example. Works well with stuff from other countries 🙂
No more napkin waste - I used my sewing machine to make re-usable ones out of cotton. Just use an old paper napkin as a model and choose your fabric!

No more napkin waste – I used my sewing machine to make re-usable ones out of cotton. Just use an old paper napkin as a model and choose your fabric! It even looks nice when you’re crappy at sewing like me.

At some stage I felt like my creativity had reached its limit though – and that’s when I started to look up DIY blogs. I was amazed by how many ideas I would find and that you could basically turn everything into something useful. However, quite often I found myself clicking through lots of different blogs to find ideas I could put into action straight away.

And then I found Trash Backwards. I happened to stumble upon Liesl’s and Rebecca’s inspiring blog when I was googling DIY ideas and I instantly knew that this was exactly the thing I was looking for. They do not only write interesting posts about everyday environmental issues, they also created an app for “trashing backwards”, a name they couldn’t haven chosen better in my opinion. This app offers an incredibly big database full of recycling, upcycling and re-using ideas. You can just enter an item like “tin” for example and it comes up with a whole bunch of things you can do with it. And you can also submit ideas and “feed” the app.

When I saw this I got so excited that I spent an entire night browsing their database for random ideas. Then I went to bed and knew that the next few weeks will be all about turning old trash into new things. I will keep you updated and show you how I turn more trash into useful things! A little hint: It will involve more crown caps and old magazines! And a big thank you to Liesl and Rebecca from Trash Backwards, what you do is amazing!

Tonight’s TV pick

“Die Essensretter” on ARD

For all those who live in Germany (or speak German): There is an interesting documentary on how to throw out less food on ARD tonight. In “Die Essensretter” Valentin Thurn, whose shocking and eye-opening documentary “Taste the waste” already dealt with that topic, gives an update on the current food waste situation and he shows a bunch of new ideas from different European countries that all share one cause: reducing the amount of food waste.

So if you’re at home at 10.45pm German time, check it out! You can also watch the trailer on the ARD website.

Enjoy your day!