Category Make

Upcycling: Feedbag Totes

Homemade feedbag totes

The large woven stockfeed bags may be designed for single use, but they’re strong, sturdy and far too good to throw away.

Polypropylene can potentially be recycled and used to manufacture other forms of plastic, but we can delay that process by turning them into robust tote bags. Often adorned with images of the animals their original contents were once destined to feed, with some simple cutting and sewing, you can create a unique shopping bag that will reliably carry all your awkwardly-shaped, bulky goods.

Botanical Colour: Homegrown Ink

sustainable-art

Making your own ink, dyes and art materials from the natural world around you is a deeply satisfying and almost therapeutic process. It not only grows your intimacy with the plants and soils of the place you live in, but also is a far more sustainable art practice, reducing transport, packaging and toxic ingredients.

Creating useable colour from an earth or botanical source is not a new thing; human knowledge of landscapes and their relationship with the natural world is how the first colours emerged to be transformed into paint pigments, fabric dyes or ink. In many places today the use of plants and soil as pigment continues as cultural practice; in other places it was taken over by industrialisation and man-made alternatives, but there’s now a rising interest in a return to natural colour sources. As a gardener you can choose to grow pigment plants that suit your climate, you can forage for plants – particularly weeds – or even use kitchen scraps.

Zero Waste: Kitchen Scrubbers

kitchen-scrubber

Produced using plastics and metals, today’s store-bought kitchen scourers can be notoriously bad for the environment. But by repurposing everyday household waste, you can very easily make your own

These homemade kitchen scrubbers pose a two-pronged attack in the war on dishes. They have a coarse side, which is perfect for scrubbing off tough baked-on stains, and a soft side which is suitable for wiping up spills or wiping down benches. And best of all, they can be made using items you’re likely to have lying around the house, making them a great addition to your zero-waste arsenal.

Fold Your Own: Paper Pots

paper-pots

Folding your own pots is an inexpensive and sustainable way to raise your seedlings. Not only are you eliminating plastic from the process, but it’s better for your plants, too.

There are so many advantages to using paper seedling pots. In terms of the environment, you’re reusing a waste product that would otherwise be destined for the recycle bin or compost heap and you’re using it as an alternative that would otherwise be plastic. Of course the other advantage is you’re removing any risk of root damage or transplant shock to your lovingly raised seedlings because the pot itself can be planted straight into the ground.

Natural Building – Earth Oven

earth-oven

Whether it’s for pizzas, bread or slow-cooked roasts, earth ovens are delightful to use and made from natural and breathable materials.

Building your own earth oven is a great place to start your natural building journey and an excellent way to test the clay content of your subsoil. The following is a guide for a medium-sized oven. You can increase or decrease the size of your oven, but it’s important to stick to the ratios which not only ensure the most efficient burn, but means you’ll e1liminate the need to incorporate a flue.

Activist Patch – Strawberry Brooch

strawberry-brooch

Patches and brooches are fun to make and a colourful way to express yourself or your feelings. They can be made from just about anything, be sewn or pinned on a bag, on a cushion or worn proudly on your chest.

The only thing that makes a brooch different from a pin is that one can be pinned to something whereas the other is generally sewn, either as a standalone statement or as a personalised way to mend a garment. Limited only by your imagination, these can be flat, colourful shapes, a three-dimensional item representing something you love, or they can portray a message with words that might be humorous or honest. This tutorial covers the basics of all three scenarios, giving you the know-how to create a patch or a brooch for yourself, or a personalised gift for family and friends.

Homemade Cleaning Products: Laundry Powder

Homemade laundry detergents are more sustainable, better for your health and significantly less expensive than store-bought options.

Not surprisingly, commercially available laundry products aim to do two things well in order to attract returning customers. They’re designed to get your clothes as clean as possible as efficiently as possible, and they’re two results many of us are well accustomed to paying a premium price for.

To produce the best results in a way deemed efficient by consumers, that is with the least amount of powdered or liquid detergent, often means a cocktail of harsh chemicals. These are not only harmful to our waterways and the environment, they can be harmful to humans, too.

Why Make Your Own

A really common ingredient in commercial laundry products is sodium laureth sulphate/sodium laurel ether sulphate (SLS and SLES) compounds which lower the surface tension between a liquid and a solid, therefore loosening dirt and stains from the fabrics you’re washing. But because SLS/SLES were initially designed as industrial degreasers, they also strip the oils from your skin which can cause irritations and allergies.

Head Start:
Seed-Raising Box

head-start

Successful seed germination requires three important things: warmth, light and moisture. With some recycled timber, you can create the perfect seed-raising environment.

As we wait for the soil to warm up this time of year, there are many places around our homes well suited to raising seeds for spring planting. The goal is finding a place which is nice and warm to promote germination and protect your young seedlings from the elements, but still with plenty of light to guide the new shoots to the surface.

A sunny indoor windowsill offers both warmth and natural light, but it’s when we start adding the third important element – water – that raising seeds indoors all of a sudden becomes a little less appealing. There are many commercially available outdoor options, but with a little bit of nous and some recycled materials, you can make a seed-raising box perfectly suited to your needs.

What You’ll Need

It doesn’t matter what you use as your lid, as long as it’s transparent enough to allow plenty of light in, while being airtight enough to trap the warm air beneath it. Because it’s likely to be the most difficult piece to source, decide on what you’re going to use as your lid and work backwards to make the rest of the structure fit its size.

Winter Wellness: Fire Fighter

honey

In the lead-up to the coldest months, now’s a great time to think about herbal remedies to boost you and your family’s immunity.

Being able to boost your immunity through homemade tonics is a more natural and more sustainable alternative to commercially sourced options. By including ingredients sourced from your own patch – be it your garden, beehive or pantry of homemade fare – making fire cider, an oxymel or a cough syrup can be a really rewarding process.

Good Oils: Homemade Soap

soap

By using oils and fats readily available, soap can be made at home free from synthetic fragrances and colours and can be used to wash everything from your hair and body to household dishes.

There are only two ways to make soap using raw ingredients; cold process and hot process. Cold-process soap making uses heat at the beginning of the process only, while hot-process soap making continues to use heat beyond the initial stages to cure soap faster.

Soap is made from four basic ingredients: animal fat or oil, lye (sodium hydroxide), water and essential oils. This will produce a bar of soap with the colour properties of the fats or oils you use. For example, lard produces a very white soap while olive oil produces a light-green soap, and essential oils are added as fragrance.