5 Steps to an Eco Easter!

Easter has always confused the hell out of me. One second i’m eating pancakes, the next my school principal is rubbing soot on my forehead, then I am told not to eat anything and then BAM I am sniffing out anything that has cocoa in it and gorging on said item! What a strange holiday it is. It is Lucy’s first Easter and it has definitely made me consider how I will bring her up to think of Easter. I have decided that it will be the same as Christmas – a time where family comes together. What it will not be about is the merciless destruction of all over-packaged, sugar-based food stuffs within a 10 kilometer vicinity. She’s already perky enough without the sugar thank you very much!!!

SUGAR!!! Nom nom.. no!

SUGAR!!! Nom nom.. no!

So I started thinking about all the ways we could reduce our Easter impact while staying healthy at the same time…

1. Sustainable Good Friday Fish

If you are a fish eater make sure you choose an ecologically sustainable breed of fish for your Good Friday Feast. The Australian Marine Conservancy has a brilliant website that tells you exactly which breeds are best – see the list here. If you are not from Australia though the Marine Stewardship Council provides global information on sustainable seafood – see their list here.

2. Make Your Own Chocolate

Itty bitty eggs all wrapped in unrecyclable tin foil… every eco-minded individuals worst nightmare. By making your own chocolate you can completely avoid the packaging as well as making them a hell of a lot healthier. In this recipe I made raw Fruit and Nut Chocolate in a slab but you could easily pour it into a chocolate mold for a more traditional feel!

You could also try these AHMAZING Raw Easter Eggs from one of my favorite foodie ladies Adele (aka Vegie Head)…

Image and recipe courtesy from www.vegiehead.com

Image and recipe courtesy from http://www.vegiehead.com

3. Always Buy Fair Trade

It can be really hard to walk past beautiful brightly-coloured eggs that are so perfectly designed to catch your kids eyes. But it is important to remember that a lot of those eggs are produced in terrible conditions by children… just like yours. See the list of companies here that are doing the right thing and using certified Fair Trade cocoa. But if you are out and about and have forgotten the list, then make sure you look out for the FTA (Fair Trade Australia) logo…

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4. Opt out of the traditional Easter Egg Hunt

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I loved Easter Egg hunts as a child. In fact, I still love ’em. I went to my brothers house last Easter and I had to be reminded that I was helping my nephew find eggs… not competing with him. But it does occur to me that it can be a glorified form of littering really? Running around and scattering bits of candy wrapped in non-biodegradable packaging around the garden. I am sure there is a percentage that get forgotten or that some poor animal finds first. BUT this doesn’t mean you need to forgo the hunt altogether. Why not try these ideas:

  • There are loads of funky reusable ‘eggs’ around which you can open and put in healthy treats. I haven’t found an Australian manufacturer yet but these ‘Eco Eggs’ are made from a non-toxic plant-based plastic that are fully compostable! (Although I’m not sure why you would chuck ’em… they would last for many many Easters). There are also gorgeous wooden eggs (see here) which you could paint and decorate with the kids.
  • I have never been to an op-shop and not seen a whole stack of wicker baskets for $2 each. No need for new! If that’s not the case wherever you are though, check out this gorgeous upcycled jumper basket…

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  • You could make your own eggs! There are plenty of gorgeous options from these little felt eggs (from the very creative One Inch World) or you could even make old greeting card boxes like these (from yours truly!) to hide treats in.
  • Instead of hiding eggs you could instead hide some gorgeous hand-painted rocks (hear me out!) and at the end of the hunt treat them like coupons. The children can come up to a ‘treat’ bar and exchange rock creatures for their treat of choice!

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5. Avoid Palm Oil

Both Woolworths and Coles home brands of hot cross buns contain palm oil.

Consumers (a yucky name for you and me) are definitely wising up these days. It is so nice to that the tribe of people that give a shit is growing and that people are starting to speak up about unacceptable corporate behavior! Better yet… they are boycotting it. Coles and Woolworths have both used Palm Oil in their homebrand Hot Cross Buns this year. They have (rightfully so) copped some flak for this nasty inclusion (if you want to know more about Palm Oil I have written a blog post all about why it is so nasty – see it here). Don’t condone their use by buying these products, why not make your own instead. Total eco babe Alison (from Relauncher) posted this recipe for Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns. I am trying it out tomorrow!

Image and recipe from http://www.relauncher.com.au

Or if you are getting into the raw swing of things you can try my recipe for Raw Cross Buns here

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Happy Easter!

What are you doing to make sure your Easter stays eco? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

How To Make Almond Milk – Plus 3 Bonus Recipes!

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“Nut milk”. Is that not the most unfortunately titled of all food items? Actually… it might just be pipped by it’s cousin “Nut Cheese”. Putting immaturity aside for a second though this is seriously awesome stuff and has become my obsession since my clean living revolution (read about that here). My milk of choice would have to be almond. Nut Milk is super easy to make and because almonds are naturally so nutritionally dense you don’t need to fortify them with anything… making homemade just as good than store bought. Actually better because you miss out on all the waste associated with packaged milks. If you need more convincing, here are some of the nutritional benefits of Almond Milk;

Low in Calories – Considering nuts are so calorific and full of all those good fats, I was shocked to discover that it is low in calories – around 60 per 250mls (compared to 426 for the equivalent serve of cows milk!)

Easy to digest – Free of lactose, casein, gluten and soy making it the best choice for your non-dairy dairy!

High in protein 

Full of nutrients – Nut milks have no cholesterol and higher levels of minerals and vitamins than other non-dairy equivalents like rice and soy (a avoid soy anyway… for these reasons). This milk is full of vitamin E, manganese, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fiber and phosphorous. The high levels of vitamin E and flavonoids make it a cancer fighting tonic!

Tastes Delish!!! – Nut milk is a lot milder than soy and is delicate and sweet. It is brilliant in smoothies, baking and all sorts of other recipes (like Chia Pudding – yum!)

Almond milk doesn’t contain much calcium though, so it should not be considered a replacement for your calcium intake. 

Equipment

To make nut milk you need a nut milk bag or material equivalent. I use these Living Synergy nut milk bags which are produced by local raw foodie queen Jen Keenan (of Living Synergy Dunsborough retreats)! You can buy them directly from the link I provided or see the large list of Australia Wide stockists here. They are very reasonably priced at around $17. If you are outside of Australia, Amazon also has an impressive list available.

This being said if you can also make your own nut milk bags out of just about anything. Sew a bag shape out of cheesecloth or muslin or upcycle an old (washed) stocking (panty-hose). I have used the panty-hose trick before when I was making this Coconut and Cucumber Facial Cleanser.

Almond Milk

Ingredients

  • Raw Almonds (organic if possible)
  • Water (filtered if possible)

For every 1 Cup of almonds I use 3 Cups of water.

Optional Extras

  • Sweeteners – raw honey, agave, stevia, maple syrup, dates
  • Raw Cacao – chocky milk!!!
  • Spices – cinnamon,cloves, cardamom, cayenne?

MAKING ALMOND MILK

Method

  1. Soak your almonds in filtered water in the fridge for between 6 – 48 hours. The longer the better but if you don’t have time 6 hours is fine. 
  2. Strain the almonds. (I strain into a colander over a bowl and then use the ‘wasted’ water in the garden).
  3. Place in blender with new water – for every 1 Cup of almonds you make you should add 3 Cups of water. (If you want to make a nice thick almond cream use 1 Cup almonds:1-2 Cup of water)
  4. Add any additional items to the blender (sweeteners, spice etc)
  5. Blend on high until the milk is foamy
  6. Pour blender contents into your nut milk bag or cheese cloth. There are a few ways you can do this – I place the nut milk bag over the top of the blender and pour into a bowl. You could also place the bag or cloth into a jag and fasten with an elastic bag before pouring.
  7. Squeeze all the pulp in the bag to extract all the milk.
  8. Store in a glass container with an airtight lid (a sterilized old jar will work just fine!)

Your milk will last between 4 – 5 days in an airtight container.

Now you will notice that you are left with the pulp of the almonds. Now hold your horses… DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY. This byproduct is a versatile base that you can make a whole range of recipes from! Here are three that I have tried, but really the possibilities are as limitless as your creativity!

Bonus Recipes

Almond Pulp Crackers

I made these awesome crackers from a recipe from awesome vegan blog Figgy and Sprout. Served with homemade Baba Ganoush they went down a treat.

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See the recipe here.

Raw Almond Pulp Macaroons

Living Synergy (where I got my nut milk bag) provided this amazing recipe for Raw Almond Macaroons. I changed them slightly by leaving out the vanilla bean and using half dessicated coconut and half shredded (both unsweetened) and they are delicious! She the recipe here.

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Crunchy Cacao Balls

I then adapted that recipe into my own little nutritious treat! These little balls are delicious.

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  1. Place 1+1/2 Cups of unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 Cup nut pulp, 1/2 Cup dates, 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil and 1 Tablespoon of Raw Cacao into a bowl.
  2. Get messy and combine with your hands… squish and mix until you can form doughy balls. (or you can use a blender if you are feeling lazy)
  3. Roll mix into balls and then roll in cacao nibs.

What a resourceful way to get your milk!

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Less IS More

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Well tomorrow is finally the day… The Less Is More Festival is back! A celebration of anti-consumerism!!!

It is an incredible day run by the Western Earth Carers which involves hands on DIY workshops that will show you how to buy less and live better! It is family friendly and of course in the spirit of anti-consumerism… is completely free.

I will be there running two workshops on Eco Babies (they run at 10am and 12pm) and there are so many more amazing workshops…

  • Make your own natural soap, toothpaste and deodorant (bring jars if you can!)
  • Fix your bike
  • Declutter your life
  • Live plastic free (with the amazing Simone)
  • Eat raw food (with one of my favorite Perth wellness goddesses A Foodly Affair)
  • Grow a native garden
  • Keep chooks and bees
  • Mosaic making
  • Make your own ginger beer, yogurt, preserves and sourdough

View the schedule here of the entire day here.

Saturday 16 February, 2013 from 9:30am until 5:00pm
The Grove Library, 1 Leake St, Peppermint Grove, WA 6011
If you decide to come along beware that parking will be very limited. BUT the good news is, the library and community centre have ample bike racks and lockers, and excellent public transport links! (See Public Transport Links here)
Would love to see you all there!
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Olive’s Guide to Greening Your Cleaning!

My Dad is wonderful and quirky and funny and one of my absolute best friends in the world and we can quite happily while away many hours chatting, mucking about or just generally pottering. However there is one department where our rivalry is fierce and unyielding (until recently anyway)… Cleaning.

Me and my Farsher

Me and my Farsher enjoying a beverage!

A bit of background information to set the scene: my Dad is an absolute clean freak – he enjoys it and he is bloody good at it. He has a daughter (hello!) whose school reports always had two words in common – ‘bubbly’ and more to the point… ‘messy’. His nickname for her has always been Stinkbug. But it seems that this little Stinkbug has grown wings because she has developed her own little range of DIY cleaning products so effective that even my Papa Bear has endorsed them. And best bit? They are all much better for the health of the environment and your house than your standard bleach and fragrance laden concoctions.

If they can pass Dad’s test then they must be good so I wanted to share them with you all and explain how I go about my eco cleaning.

Essential Ingredients

My laundry cupboard

My laundry cupboard

Once you have these ingredients in your house there will be no mess you can’t annihilate. Your homemade products will be strong I assure you, but it is also worth noting that they may need a little extra elbow grease. The reason is that they aren’t full of toxic chemicals – a compromise I can handle! I think of it as a few extra muscles I’m toning.

  • Borax
  • Vinegar – White, Apple Cider or DIY Citrus (recipe link included in Standards section)
  • Bicarb Soda
  • Soda Crystals
  • Washing Soda
  • Lemons
  • Eucalyptus Oil – antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and deodoriser
  • Lavendar Oil – smells so pretty!
  • Other essential oils – Tea Tree, Lemon, any that take your fancy!!!
  • A good quality eco-dishwashing detergent
My DIY Citrus Vinegar

My DIY Citrus Vinegar

Important things to keep in mind;

  • Even though these are much more natural than your standard products they can still be harmful so always wear gloves and keep away from kids.
  • Washing Soda is not good for aluminium and will remove wax polish!
  • Vinegar makes marble cloudy.
  • Essential oils can be potent and some are dangerous to pregnant women, children or pets – ALWAYS CHECK THE BOTTLE.

Upcycled Cleaning Equipment

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Newspapers – Best stuff for plastic free bins and cleaning glass!

Spray Bottles – If you have cleaning products in spray bottles, keep those spray bottles and refill with your own solutions. However if you don’t have any go and buy them from a hardware (Bunnings has them) or homewares store.

Jar Shaker – In my “Olive’s Clean Everything Solution” (see under Standards section) I use a shaker. Now if you want you can go buy one or you can just get a jar with a tin lid and punch some holes into the top with a knife or hammer and nail.  Put the Bicarb into the jar, lid on and shake away!

Socks and Pantyhose – Isn’t it funny that you always seem to only lose one sock out of the pair! In my case it is less losing, more having them stolen…

Meet Allen.

Meet Allen.

Either way, keep your widowed socks and torn pantyhose. These are perfect tap cleaners and door knob buffers!!!

Toothbrushes – Keep all your old ones. They are great for scrubbing hard to reach places or delicate ornaments.

Old T-shirts and Sheets – Keep any fabric that can’t be given to an opshop for use as an old rag. When we had floorboards I used to elastic band them to my broom to make a swiffer mop for dust… worked a charm.

Old Towels – Cut these into small squares, overlock the edges and you, my friend, have the hardiest cleaning cloth in the business!

Standards

Citrus Vinegar, I LOVE YOU!

Citrus Vinegar, I LOVE YOU!

Citrus Vinegar

Citrus vinegar is unbelievably easy to make. All it takes is discarded citrus peel and vinegar. See my post on that here… I use it on everything

All-Purpose Cleaner

I use this for all counters and surfaces except my chopping boards (see what I do with chopping board below)

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon liquid detergent
  • 1 teaspoon Borax
  • ¼ Cup Vinegar (Citrus Vinegar if available)
  • 10 – 20 drops of Essential Oils (Eucalyptus is good for the kitchen as it keeps away ants and cockroaches and smells nice too!)

Mix into a spray bottle. Shake before each use.

Olive’s Clean Everything Solution

Sprinkle Bicarb soda onto surface. Spray with vinegar until you hear fizz. Wipe off with rag/sponge. VOILA.

Window or Mirror Cleaner

  • 1 Cup White Vinegar (Citrus vinegar if you have it)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 3 Cups Water

OR if you don’t like the smell of vinegar…

  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar (Citrus vinegar if you have it)
  • 3 Cups Water

Mix vinegar and lemon juice with water. Pour into a used spray bottle. Spray onto window/mirror and scrub with newspaper (don’t use paper towels – they will streak!)

Floor Cleaner

Two thirds hot water, one third vinegar. That’s it.

I (of course) like to use citrus vinegar for this but white is perfectly fine. If you have darker floors you can use apple cider. Apple Cider does taint floors slightly though so if you have white tiles don’t try it.

Kitchen

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I wipe down my main kitchen counter with the all purpose cleaner from above, but I also have a large wooden chopping board. I like to use a different cleaner for this as the All Purpose Cleaner contains Borax which is not meant to be ingested. I use the following mix …

Kitchen Counter Cleaner

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon liquid detergent
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus Oil

Mix into a spray bottle. Shake before each use.

If after using that you still have some stubborn smells hanging around (think onion, fish) I use this super simple mix to clean my chopping board which does so without tainting the food…

Chopping Board Cleaner

  • Tip a bit of washing soda onto a cloth or sponge and scrub the chopping board

Dishwashing Liquid/Dishwasher Tablets

Similar to clothes washing, I have not yet invented a washing powder or liquid that works to my liking. I have tried 1 Cup borax + 1 Cup baking soda + ½ Cup salt but sadly no luck – although others I have spoken to love this mix.

I also find the detergents from stores very useful as I often add a teaspoon or two to my mixes and they go an awfully long way! So (same as laundry) I use Eco Store, Ecover or Earth’s Choice – links and information about these companies in the Laundry section of this post.

Cleaning greasy pots and pans

Washing soda is the ultimate grease killer which makes it perfect for washing pots and pans.

  • Dampen your sponge and sprinkle washing soda onto it (quite liberally)
  • Scrub the greasy pan with the sponge
  • Rinse and wash as usual

Hardcore Greased up pan or BBQ

  • Make a paste from washing soda and water (2:1)
  • Apple the paste directly to the greasy area
  • Allow to sit for 30 mins then wash

Microwave Cleaner

  • Slice up a lemon and place in a microwave safe bowl of water
  • Zap in Microwave for 5 – 10 minutes
  • Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe the inside. The mess will wipe off really easily!

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My Hugh Jackman Oven Cleaner

Why Hugh Jackman you say? Take a walk with me…

Normal oven cleaners are extremely harsh and toxic like… hmm… I don’t know … a Wolverine!!! And even though a big dangerous Wolverine hunk with knives coming out his fists surely gets the job done it’s nice to also have a more sensitive side that when it comes down to it won’t hurt you… like the Drover. Wolverine (tough) + Drover (sensitive) = Hugh Jackman Oven Cleaner! And there you have it people, an insight into the slightly disturbed brain of Olive. Anyway –

  • 1 ½ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup white vinegar (you can also use apple cider vinegar)
  • Water
  • Optional: 4 drops essential oil (you can use any scent you like)

Mix all the ingredients together to form a paste. Paint the paste onto the oven stains (I use a pastry brush but you could use an old paint brush!). Let it sit for at least 4 hours (aim for 6) and it will foam up. Then wash with a cloth and warm water. AMAZING! I haven’t met a mess it hasn’t fixed yet.

Cleaning Silverware

  • Line a container with aluminium foil
  • Fill the container with 1 cup Soda Crystals and a litre of boiling water
  • Submerge silverware and soak for 15 minutes. If the silverware is tarnished it will literally melt away. Rinse off
  • Buff… buff like David Hasselhoff damnammit!

Stovetops and Burners

  • Fill your kitchen sink with warm water and add ½ cup of washing soda
  • Place the greasy burner into the water and allow to soak for about 30 minutes
  • Remove the burner and rinse off any residue
  • Wash as per normal (with soap and water)
  • While doing this why not grab that exhaust fan down and do it in the same sink (I always used to get told off about my exhaust fan during home inspections… seriously, who notices that?)

Really Stubborn Stove Stains (also good for BBQ’s)

  • Sprinkle washing soda directly onto greasy areas of the stovetop
  • Use a damp sponge to scrub the mucky area
  • Rinse with a rag and warm water

Laundry

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Sadly I have not yet made a good DIY clothes washing liquid or powder… I will keep experimenting until I get there. There are some pretty good alternatives on the market though, not to mention some simple tips and tricks to reduce your impact…

Clothes Washing Powder/Liquid

I have 3 brands that I really trust… unfortunately it can be difficult to get my faves at the major supermarkets but I think they are starting to stock them nowadays. Here they are in order of fave.

Eco Store – Read their eco credentials here but in short: super concentrated so you don’t have to use much, not tested on animals, in recycled packaging. BOOM. They also do beauty products. (See the Eco Store website here)

Ecover – Made from natural, sustainable plant-based ingredients and with huge consideration put into their to have less impact on aquatic life. (See the Ecover website here)

NOTE: Keep an eye out for places that offer a refill service with these products! I keep my containers (or you can take your own) and refill them straight from a bulk container at either PAWS (Northbridge) or Manna Wholefoods (Fremantle).

Earths Choice – This is the most accessible option and what I consider my emergency cleaner. If I can’t get to an eco store (there aren’t many where I live) then I can always find this at the supermarket. Products are all free of phosphate, dye, bleach, ammonia and aggressive enzymes. (See the Natures Organics website here)

Olive’s Natural Clothes Washing Tips

Brighter whitesAdd 1 Cup of lemon juice to your regular wash OR soak clothes in hot water and 1 cup of lemon juice overnight then wash as normal. Dry them in the sun for added bright!!!

Darker darksPour two cups of strong black tea into your wash load during the rinse cycle to restore dark colours.(Obviously if you have any light clothes in this wash they will get stained!)

Prevent fading – Turning clothes inside out before washing helps prevent fading

Getting grease out of clothesAbsorb as much grease from fabric my dabbing (not rubbing) with a rag. Mix 4 Tablespoons of washing soda with ½ Cup of warm water in a bowl to form a paste then rub the paste into grease stains (wear gloves!). Wash as normal (add ½ cup to washing machine for particularly hardy stains). Check your item of material to see that grease is gone before drying (otherwise the heat may set it) and if some remains… repeat the process.

Use Less DetergentI add ½ cup of Soda Crystals to my washes which not only softens the water but also help to break down really nasty stains. It also means I can reduce the amount of detergent to the manufacturer’s instructions for soft water.

Wow! I am sure I have forgotten one of my solutions. If I have or you need any advice then please let me know in the comments. I’d also love to if you have any green cleaning solutions to share.

Happy Green Cleaning!

DIY Eco Wreath (from Toilet Rolls)

As I mentioned in my last tutorial (Making gift boxes from old greetings cards – see them here) I am determined to be frightfully festive without all the nasty waste that often comes along with it! I really want to prove to myself (and other people) that you can be a happy Christmas Greenie as apposed to a whingy eco version of this guy…

So I decided I would get going on my sustainable decorations at the very start…. my front door. There aint nothing better than a wreath. I had seen plenty of amazing wreaths on Pinterest (follow me here) but was particularly inspired by this one which I saw at Proverbs 31 craft blog. It also suited me as I save all my toilet rolls (they are very handy for all sorts of crafts and around-the-house uses). So I set off on my merry way and I have to say I am really, really proud of the results! Considering I made this whole thing from what would be considered waste products (old cardboard box, newspaper, toilet rolls, fabric off-cuts) it really proves that one woman’s junk is anothers’ treasure.

Equipment

  • Toilet rolls (depending on how big your wreath is you will need quite a few).
  • Cardboard (big enough to cut your wreath base out of – mine has a 40cms diameter)
  • Newspaper
  • 2 x pieces of fabric off-cuts (minimum 80cms length) or fat ribbon
  • Scissors and/or Stanley knife
  • Hot Glue Gun

Optional

  • Ruler
  • Spray paint
  • Glitter

Method

1. First make your wreath template. I have seen plenty of blogs that suggest buying a Styrofoam template… there really is no need to use that nasty material. All you need is some cardboard and newspaper. I traced out a large salad bowl shape (40cms diameter) and then traced around a smaller bowl before cutting it out to create the donut shape (this is where a Stanley Knife would come in handy).

2. Then to give your wreath some central body I scrunched up newspaper and glued it onto the donut. This is going to covered in toilet roll rosettes so don’t worry if it looks shabby! Voila.. you have your recycled wreath template.

3. Then you need to cut your toilet roll rings. I wanted my wreath to be a really pretty textural wreath with all different levels and lengths of rosettes. Therefore I cut my toilet rolls into thirds, fourths and fifths. You don’t have to rule these you can just cut away – it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Note: If you don’t have many toilet rolls you may want to cut the roll into fifths so that you get more bang for your buck out of each roll.

4. Once you have your rings you will make them into rosettes. Cut the ring to open them up and then roll. Again I varied rolling them very tightly and loosely.5. Now it’s time to start gluing the rosettes to your wreath. Blob hot glue onto the newspaper and press the rosettes onto them. I started by using the taller rosettes (the ones I had cut from thirds) and gluing them around the centre of the ring. I tried to angle them so the centre of the rosettes weren’t all just facing up and were looking in different directions (for added visual interest). At times you will need to dob bits of glue in between them so the rosettes use each other for added structure.

Once I had the taller central ring of rosettes I started gluing in the shorter ones around the edges until the wreath was completely covered.

Don’t worry if your wreath looks very grim at the beginning… persevere! The more you build the better and better it gets I promise…

6. I actually really like the toilet rolls left in their natural state… I think they looked deliciously rustic… but I also really felt the need for some sparkle. So I used some old spray paint I had left over from another project and gave the wreath a really fine spray until it was a creamy brown colour. One positive is that this will seal the wreath and protect it for next year!

Aerosols are unfortunately not great for the environment but you can get your hands on ‘friendlier’ alternatives for projects that really do require them. I favour Krylon’s H20 Latex Spray Paint (see the treehugger write up here) – it is an environmentally better option although sadly still not perfect. Here are some places you can get them in Australia.

7. While the paint was still wet I dusted some left over glitter onto the wet wreath. Fairy dust makes all the difference. Let the wreath dry.

8. Once your wreath has dried it is time to tie the bow onto it. I used fabric off-cuts though you could also use a fat ribbon if you do not have any. The pieces I used were very thick (approx 15cms) and therefore I needed them to be minimum 80cms long.

Tie the first piece around the top of your wreath – tie the knot tight as this will be what your wreath hangs from so you want it to be secure. Then thread the other piece between it and the toilet rolls. Tie a bow and fluff it up appropriately.Then cut the ribbon tails to the perfect size. The bow may take a couple of goes to get right.

I then quickly sewed the ends of the material together to form a loop and cut a small slice into the ribbon so that I could hang it on a screw in our door…

8. Merrily hang on your door while humming “Deck the halls”… because tis the season to be jolly! Be sure to take a step back and admire your wonderful crafty work!

DIY Gift Boxes from Recycled Cards

Last Christmas I was a bit of an Eco-Grinch. I got really grumpy at the fact that a time  that is meant to be about family and love and all that good stuff had morphed into a cash cow… an exercise in capitalism. But I still didn’t want to let Christmas go. I grew up in England with snowmen and amazing Christmas trees and dad dressing up like Santa – and being pregnant I want my little daughter to grow up with memories as lovely as mine. So I am on a mission to keep my festivities completely eco (and blog about it of course!).

In January – going off the theme that reuse is better than recycle – I asked all the people in my office to give me their unwanted Christmas cards. I took a whole lot down to the local school to use for crafts but was still left with a massive pile of them. I stored them with my Christmas decorations and hoped to think of something to do with them by Christmas time. And I did. Here is an ultra simple gift box that you can make from an old greetings card.

Equipment

  • Old greeting cards
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Glue (can just be a stick but Hot Glue Gun is far more resilient)
  • *If just using a glue stick you may also want pegs and paperclips

Instructions

1. Cut along the seam to separate the front of the card from the back.

2. Decide how thick/deep you want your box to be (look at the gift/item you are putting inside it to make sure it will fit!). Once decided rule a margin around the sides. I varied between 2 and 3cms (0.5 – 1″) for my boxes.

3. Fold along each line. I did this by placing my ruler along the line and then folding the paper over it… was a lot quicker and more precise.

4. Cut along the lines on 2 opposite ends only. What I mean by that is you don’t want to cut the corner squares out… you just want to create a flap. See next photo if you are unsure of what I mean.

5. Fold the flaps in and apply dobs of glue. Then pincer together to make your box shape. If you are just using a glue stick you may want to hold the flaps together with pegs or paperclips to ensure the box really sets and is sturdy. Hot glue gun is definitely preferable though.

6. And there you have one half of your box! ( Use the pretty front part of the card is the top of the box). Repeat the process to make the other half of your box.

7.  When I was drawing the margins in for the bottom half of the boxes I made the margins a couple of mm’s bigger than the top boxes so that it fit comfortably without needing to bend. E.g. my margin for the top was 3cms on each side, my margin for the bottom was 3.2cms on each side.

Other ideas…

Advent Calendar

If I had more time I would totally have made this advent calendar using the boxes and a pin up board…

From 2 Boys 2 Girls Painter Family

Tree Ornaments

You could also thread some ribbon through them and hang them from your tree filled with goodies.

Plastic Free Easter Egg Containers

Easter will be another hurdle in anti-consumerism! I have brill memories of Easter Egg hunts but how will I give these to my daughter without all that nasty foil and needless wrapping? You could bulk buy chocolates and place them in little boxes and hide them around the garden! WIN.

Stationery Holders

These could also be cute little DIY boxes to keeps your paperclips etc in!

More Sustainable Christmas Ideas

If you are looking for more sustainable Christmas ideas you may like some of these posts;