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!

Plastic Free July – Take the Challenge!

Plastic is literally taking over the planet. Wherever you are right now stop and have a look around. How much plastic can you see near you? Then take into account the plastic that you can’t see – plastic in cosmetics, clothing material and in your chewing gum (yep, it is made of plastic!). Then there is landfill. Now go further – think about our oceans. We have basically created a thin soup of plastic that touches every corner of the globe. It doesn’t have to be this way though – it is easy enough to change habits and shift demand towards better, kinder alternatives. As always it starts with the individual – so here is an encouraging kick-in-the-butt to get started! One of my favourite Perth organisations Western Earth Carers have started Plastic Free July; a challenge that anyone can partake in to try and reduce their dependency on plastic.

Why Give Up Plastic?

What resonates most to me when I think about why we should all try to eliminate plastic from our lives is this; we are using a material that is designed to last forever to create items that are designed to be thrown away. That just doesn’t make sense. Think about the lifespan of a lollipop wrapper for example, the plastic is made using precious oils and gases (both non-renewable resources) it is ripped off without a thought and is thrown away. But where is ‘away’? Away is landfill or our waterways where it then kills animals, pollutes the ecosystem and eventually breaks down into microscopic particles that are ingested into the food chain (which ends with us).

And, more directly, there are also all the links between plastics and serious disease such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics. Our use of BPA is so prolific that a study detected it in the urine of 93% of the population over 6 years of age. The convenience and ‘economical’ nature of this material is literally killing us (and the planet) and the real tragedy is that it is completely unnecessary. There are so many opportunities to recycle, reuse and – best yet – reduce by using biodegradable alternatives. But while we continue to accept the status quo, nobody is going to change anything.

(If you want to learn more about plastic pollution then check out this quick and bloody interesting You Tube video featuring Charles Moore – the man that discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1997).

The Challenge

Here are the rules;

  • For the entire month of July attempt to buy no plastic packaging.
  • Choose your commitment level – either 1 shopping trip, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.
  • Create a ‘Dilemma Bag’. This will be your sin bin, used to collect any plastics that you accidentally accumulate or couldn’t avoid. At the end of the challenge Earth Carers have requested that everyone sends in a picture of your dilemma bag.

I will be committing to the entire month and I really hope that if you decide to give it a go that you push yourselves! It is not a competition, it is a challenge. If you accidentally consume plastic that is okay – just stick  it in that bag.

When I first found out that I was pregnant I was at a loss at how on earth I was going to get through nine months without my customary Saturday night champagne (not to mention my equally important Sunday through to Friday red wines?) but now that I am used to it, it is actually really easy. I am confident it will be the same with this challenge. Who knows… it might stick?

Take the leap!

Come on… Be brave! Make a concerted effort to do what is best for the planet and your health and register with tfor the challenge here. They also have a Facebook page with all sorts of updates and encouragement.

But don’t stop there – get your family involved, put some information on the fridge in your workplace, form a pact with your partner. The more people that are involved the pool of creative minds to bounce idea’s and tips off.

I wanted to include this gorgeous TedX by Beth Terry who founded My Plastic Free Life (a fabulous resource). In it she explains the moment that made her stop and change direction, her experience so far and her tips and tricks on reducing her plastic consumption. She is so inspirational because she is so normal. Absolutely gorgeous.

Start Planning

This is not the sort of thing that you can just jump into without at least a little bit of preparation. I am going to make sure that I provide plenty of resources and recipes to help you out.  Stay tuned for my next post which will contain instruction on exactly how to prepare yourself and your household for the challenge. In the meantime here is an old post with tips and tricks on reducing consumption or you could take a deeper look at the effects of plastic to really get you motivated.

If you are in Perth the Western Earth Carers also have a whole heap of events to provide inspiration and information like an introductory workshop before the challenge starts,  a screening of Bag It, a wholefood cooking class with Jude Blereau and a finale party to celebrate your efforts!

For Em’s follow up post 5 Steps To Being Plastic Free click here