upcycling

A rice bag in his pocket

Finding a plastic-free wallet

I’ve been wanting to buy my husband a new wallet for a long time. As leather or fake leather (that’s basically plastic) weren’t an option I started to look for alternatives. I found cotton wallets, but they looked extremely hippie, something I was sure wouldn’t exactly match my man’s taste. Without knowing about my search I suddenly received an email from a fellow blogger. Almuth had spotted a really cool stall at a Christmas market that sold upcycled bags, hats, interior design and wallets. They are made of old rice, coffee bags and other packaging, flip-flops or car tires. I looked it up online and I knew: This is perfect.

upcycling deluxe wallet

So thanks to Upcycling Deluxe my husband’s got a stylish, cruelty-free wallet made from an old rice bag – which couldn’t be more perfect for him, as he’s a chef and he loves rice. Technically it’s not plastic-free, but made from old packaging – so even better actually. As I was so happy with their service and the design I decided to share this with you. Maybe someone else is looking for a new wallet, too?

Upcycled snack container mini-shelf

… or what became of a party leftover

A little while ago I had a party at my place and someone left an empty snack container. I was just about to pick it up and throw it in the recycling bin when I realized how oddly stylish it looked. As I’m looking for new (and cool) ways to put some of the chaos on my desk into place I turned the snack container into an upcycled mini-shelf.

I used some old nail polish (I’m not using any anymore, so I’m always happy to find a new use for it) to give it a little makeover and pinned it to my wall. I didn’t have any proper nails, but the pin holds it well enough. If you want it to be more stable, attach it to a piece of wood. Of course it can’t hold anything seriously big or heavy, but it’s definitely a nice way of presenting particularly cool-looking items.

what you need shelf1 shelf2

… and this is how a party leftover became the new home for my post-its and rubbers.

DIY snack container shelf

Upcycled Christmas ideas #3

DIY pizza carton postcards

When I lived in the UK, home of the Hallmark postcard, I was amazed by how seriously people took the whole postcard business. To be honest I had paid much attention to postcards. I would often read them and throw them out after it. I would only keep the really pretty ones. But I noticed how much people in the UK valued their postcards. I saw people arranging them on the window sill, on their coffee tables or on their drawers. A friend of mine even hung them in her window using string.

To make a long story short: I absolutely loved how much a little postcard meant in the UK. I decided to become a little bit more English and bring this tradition back to my country – and make my own postcards. In my opinion there is no need to buy Christmas cards (unless you want to send one when you’re on holidays). Even if people keep them for a little while, they’ve got a very short life span and still get thrown out eventually. So why not recycle old cardboard, magazines and envelopes and create something unique – like DIY pizza carton postcards?

P1100021 P1100022

Take an old pizza carton (or any other carton), cut out a rectangle shaped postcard (just use an old one as a sample). Do the same with an old envelope. Then glue the envelope to the coloured side of the carton and use the blank side to get creative. Use old magazines or junk mail (you will find a lot of Christmas-sy pictures at the moment!) and cut out stars, trees or anything else you can think of and glue them to the cardboard.

DIY Christmas card

You can find more unusual ideas on Buzzfeed. This one is my favourite last-minute project. Mine doesn’t look as pretty, but I used a different method, too. I cut a magazine page into little strips and arranged them as a tree. I also cut out a love heart – that way I’ve got a 100% recycled postcard.

Christmas tree postcard

By the way: This can be used as a DIY gift tag, too.

Upcycled Christmas ideas #2

DIY Lego jewellery

Can you remember my Lego men magnets? As I had a few more Lego bricks at home I decided to turn them into jewellery. I discovered Lego jewellery a few years ago, absolutely loved it, but couldn’t understand how anyway would buy this as it’s so easy to make at home. On top of that everyone probably has some old Lego bricks at home. The handful of bricks I’ve got left wouldn’t really be enough to give them away in their original condition, so instead they became individual little treasures – DIY Lego hairclips and rings.

All you need for this is:

  • a couple of old Lego bricks
  • glue (This one is plant-based, free of chemicals and comes in a refillable glass bottle)
  • a blank ring and a blank hairclip

… and now: glue it and let it dry! That’s all it takes. In the meantime you can design a little gift box for your jewellery. I used an old cardboard soap container and glued scrap fabric around it.

Lego hairclip Lego ring jewellery jewellery box jewellery box

Upcycled Christmas ideas #1

DIY glass jar candle holders and pen holders

This year I’m skipping the queues in the shops – not only because it’s a real challenge to go Christmas shopping when you want to avoid plastic packaging, I also feel like there are so many beautiful things you can make out of trash. I am even starting to collect some of my friends’ and parents’ trash, as I’m kind of running out of it – big Christmas upcycling projects seem to require a lot of glass jars and tins. So here are my first two ideas: upcycled DIY glass jar candle holders and pen holders.

[SPOILER ALERT: As I mentioned in my last post, if you happen to be a family member or a friend you might want to stop reading here. If you don’t mind getting a rough idea what might end up under the tree for you, you’re more than welcome to continue reading though.]

I used beautiful Finnish marimekko fabric for the first two pieces which I got about a year ago (I don’t know if it’s still available). In a more sustainable approach I will use scrap fabric or maybe even old clothes next time. I don’t think it needs much explanation. Just cut the fabric and glue it to the glass jar and tins. Et voilà, the first Christmas presents are done:

DIY candle light holders

candle light holder

A plastic-free Christmas

Five things to do for a greener festive season

Christmas cookies in plastic boxes, piles of wrapping paper, plastic bags everywhere, plastic gifts put in plastic bags wrapped in plastic packaging – to make a long story short: December is definitely one of the hardest months to avoid unnecessary packaging. I read that we actually use up 30 % more paper than in other months because of all the gift-wrapping paer. But as impossible as avoiding uneccessary packaging over Christmas seems, there are ways. I decided to put together a little list of really easy things I’m doing this year – I suppose you could call it my “Christmas pledge”. Of course it involves a lot of stuff I’ve been doing ever since I started my blog, but I thought it might be helpful for others to know about it. Maybe you want to integrate a few of them into this year’s Christmas routine, too!?

1) Ditch gift-wrapping paper once and for all. There are so many clever and pretty alternatives, for example old newspapers (I found a Chinese newspaper recently, it looks pretty amazing), magazine pages, scarfs or (for big things) blankets (I got some inspiration on Buzzfeed, too). Whenever I get a present wrapped in gift-wrapping paper, I try to unwrap it carefully so that I can re-use the paper. I do, however, will ask my family not to use any gift-wrapping paper, too. So maybe we could even make it a completely gift-wrapping-paper-free Christmas?

alternative gift wrappers

alternative gift wrappers

2) I won’t buy packaged cookies and Christmas candy (loose cookies from the bakery should be fine though :-)). Instead I will make them myself (for example these date cashew hazelnut pralinés) and use old tins, glass jars and milk cartons as candy boxes. Makes a great Christmas present, too.

date cashew hazelnut praliné

date cashew hazelnut praliné

3) [SPOILER ALERT] I will try to make all of my Christmas presents myself. There are so many easy and yet amazing things you can make at home. I know it might seem a little time-consuming, but hitting the high streets and queueing up in shops on a Saturday afternoon clearly can’t take that much less time. And fortunately there are some things that don’t take forever to make. I found some inspiration on Buzzfeed (33 DIY gifts you can make in less than an hour), although I generally prefer gifts you can actually “use up” . That’s why I like to fill things like cookie, risotto or bread mixtures in old glass bottles or jars. Just choose your favourite recipe, fill in the ingredients, stick the recipe to the bottle and you’ve got a really unique gift that won’t add up to the big pile of things we’ve all got already. Or I make my own herbal oils.

homemade risotto mix

homemade risotto mix

homemade herbal oil

homemade herbal oil

4) The same goes for gift cards. I will make them from old cardboard boxes (cereal boxes for example) and pretty pictures from magazines and use scrap fabric to decorate them. Glued magazine pages will serve as envelopes.

magazine page envelopes

magazine page envelopes

5) And last but not least: I want to downsize in general. I love upcycling old things, I love making little homemade presents, but the really important things are love and time. So I don’t think I always need to buy or even make a present for everyone. Cooking for someone, arranging a movie night at home and “giving time” always makes a much better gift. I saw this great German website the other day where you can create gift-cards for quality time instead of quality products. As a good friend of mine pointed out, it’s kind of defining of our times and our part of the world that we actually need a website that makes us aware of this, but if that is what it takes to spread the idea, I’m all for it.

What are your thoughts on this? How are you celebrating Christmas this year? Do you have any more plastic-free ideas (or something I really missed on my list)? Let me know, would love to hear from you!

By the way: More upcycling and DIY Christmas ideas will follow next time!

DIY Lego magnets

The world’s coolest fridge magnets

Looking for an easy-peasy present for your loved ones? Before you hit the high streets, go through you old stuff. There are so many great things you can do with old toys – Lego magnets for example.

As I’m a huge Lego fan, these are my favourite magnets. I know that the idea isn’t all that new, but I was so excited about my little Lego man magnet (which goes in someone’s advent calendar this year 🙂 ) that I just had to share my experience with you. This is how I made my Lego magnets: I used the following three things:

Lego man, glue & magnet

Lego man, glue & magnet

I just glued the magnet (I re-used an old blank magnet) to the end of a Lego brick and a Lego man.

lego instructions

I let it dry for 10 minutes (I used a hairdryer to speed it up)…

Lego - instructions2

… and my first DIY Christmas present is done.

Lego magnets

I can’t wait to see Lego landscapes on my friends’ fridge doors!

By the way – I stumbled upon these awesome Lego ideas on Buzzfeed, you might want to try out some of them.