For some, January and February is a time when winter seems to drag on and there’s little to alleviate the doldrums — but not so for me! I see this time of year, when obligations are few, as an opportunity to work on the many projects that have been piling up during the busy fall and holiday season.
My Pinterest boards are bulging with ideas on repurposing stuff that might otherwise end up in the trash or the recycling bin. Those are the best kind of projects — the materials cost very little, you’re reducing household waste, and you’re getting creative with found objects — so instead of bemoaning the long nights and the lack of activities filling your calendar, why not get inspired and turn your trash into treasure? (Be sure you’re following Recyclebank’s Pinterest account; there are plenty more ideas there, too!)
Here are some things on my list of projects to tackle… I’m so excited that I’m in no rush for spring to come!
1. Have fun with Plarn. What’s plarn, you ask? I didn’t know either until I delved into the world of making projects with plastic bags. (Admit it: Even though you’re scrupulous about bringing your own bags to the supermarket, you’ve still somehow amassed a cabinet stuffed with those flimsy grocery bags!) Turns out plarn is a portmanteau for plastic and yarn. It makes a long strand of plastic that can then be knitted or woven into something else. I’m eager to try making a pouf like those sold by Hipcycle, or perhaps an oversized basket. I also love the idea of doing something altruistic with my craft, like knitting up a sleeping mat for a person who’s homeless.
2. Get crafty with wood scraps. My husband has recently gotten into furniture building. So far he’s built us a bedframe, a sectional seating unit for our porch, and a console table. But the odds and ends of wood are starting to pile up in our backyard, and since we don’t have a fire pit, I’m determined to find something to do with them. I love the idea of this bike made from wood scraps, but more realistically, I’m thinking of making some hook racks or designing some cute rustic wall art like those I’ve seen for big bucks at art fairs.
3. Make a resourceful birdfeeder. Using household waste to create a birdfeeder is an eco-friendly double whammy: Not only are you diverting stuff from the landfill, you’re also creating a haven for wild birds. This roundup of homemade birdfeeders features tin cans, wine bottles, old China, and even orange rinds.
4. Organize creatively with cardboard. I’m in love with this custom desk organizer made from cardboard stacked and glued together, so the corrugated sides become a design element. And I also love the idea of using that perfect-sized cardboard box to make a pretty storage basket by wrapping it in rope and lining it with fabric. With all the deliveries we get, we have no shortage of cardboard boxes, and I’m always looking for fun, creative things to do with them.
5. Transform bottles into nightlights. My husband recently stuffed a string of fairy lights into a mason jar to make a nightlight for my daughter. It turned out so pretty, reminiscent of fireflies caught in a jar, that I wanted to make a whole bunch of them. Wine bottles are also something I have no shortage of, and I think the lights will look so pretty glowing through the green or amber glass, too. This tutorial shows how to make wine bottle lights.
6. Turn junk mail into pretty handmade paper. We recycle mounds of paper, whether it’s old homework assignments, junk mail, bills, or work-related documents. I’ve long admired the beautiful handmade paper cards at fancy boutiques, so this year I might try my hand at making some myself! Making handmade paper is not hard, it just requires a blender and a framed screen for drying it. And there’s more to do with the finished paper than just using it for stationery: Ideas for handmade paper crafts range from fashioning a lampshade to creating 3-dimentional objects like bowls or decorative balls.