DIY Valentines Gift Ideas That Love The Planet Too!

I love love. Which is why I love Valentines Day. Some would argue that ‘Hallmark’ holidays are consumerist and I guess that can be true… but it doesn’t have to be. That’s the great thing about the eco-creativity movement; you can take any idea and paint it green. So how about making sure your Valentines Gifts are just as nice to the planet as they are to your loved one. Here is some inspiration…

(click the pictures to go through to the links!)

Sweet Green Eats

Your standard box of chocolates is unhealthy for everyone involved: unhealthy sugars and fats to clog your arteries and lots of unnecessary packaging to clog our waterways. So why not get creative and try these healthy romantic alternatives…

Box of Healthy Love Cookies

Don’t go buy a new gift box… you could use an old shoe box or maybe an upcycled cereal box?

And here is a healthy flourless cookie to make from one of my favorite food bloggers Delighted Momma.

fd87fed3f3e7e70270c33283e8700c75

Heart Shaped Carrots

Float these healthy hearts in soup or mix them through a salad!

Heart-Shaped-Carrots

Healthy Lunch Box Surprise

You could make the tags from old manila folders or wallets. A cute surprise for kids.

tumblr_lqz7ots9ay1qzio10o1_400

A Healthy Hearty Dessert

aabbce446f3a16143f20c049e5e16010

Upcycled Gifts

I don’t think anything says I love you like a handmade gift!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

GORGEOUS. Plantable paper seed hearts! Imagine filling these with herb seeds. Flavoring their dishes with love! (I am sorry for that… it was really cheesy).

f210eb9df709e7fb69c9a308adc26dd8

Scrap Fabric Sweetheart Frame

A lovely thing to sit on your loved ones desk to remind them that they are still your sweetheart…

c253dfcb0d9f4654d2b9eb4873f2340e

Recycled Wood String Art

I am in love with this!!! Imagine using wood from an old pallet and some old shed scraps…

d32a7b2c0708b77804c83c8abb29dfea

A Love Note Poster

Something gorgeous for your loved one to stick up at their desk, made from an old book page.

2cfe0339c7c9db547bb1c624a5690b54

“Remember, I Love You’s”

An upcycled jar + some scrap fabrics = Cutest gift ever.

Hide these love hearts in secret places for your loved ones to find!

2ffdc012f57ac55d7dfc1afe6f5e13a4

The Alternative Bouquet

A bunch of flowers may be pretty but did you know they are often imported from other countries – often developing nations that are using precious resources to grow flowers instead of food! You can read more about that in my post here but in the meantime, how about rethinking the bouquet and  going for a more sustainable bunch of goodies.

Upcycled Magazine Flowers 

I made these flowers out of old magazines…

img_1769

A Bouquet of Buttons

8130dfb318af9407c8f14a6d25233cff

Felt Roses

520470d706df1a9972a8acb093eb7235

Cranberry Roses, anyone?

02d55f3efc71b6f1ce13ff12e16cf1e9

The Living Bouquet 

What could be better than a bouquet that is 100% natural and lasts forever! Why not get a pot plant. My favourite would have to me the Chain of Hearts. Long vines of heart shaped flowers… divine.

images

Eco Decorations

What a lovely way to make someone feel loved! Surprises are amazing… imagine walking in a house decorated with some of these things?

Love Heart Garland

10438ebd1dc4f5f30c6827964236b997

 

Wreath From Old Greeting Cards 

This would be the perfect way to use up all those old red Christmas cards!!!

11ab11fb34f57dad80c2e3f63317a19a

 

An Ambient Centerpiece

Use natural twine and love hearts made from magazines or book pages.

27df174c1ad0e9c7762b02aa65282bcc

 

A Heart Plaque Made from Spools

101793363.jpg.rendition.largest

 

Hopefully that gets you inspired to get creative this Valentines Day! And who says gifts should just be for your partner… spread the love far and wide. This world needs as many good vibes as it can get!

Happy Valentines Day from Me!

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;

Recycled Ladder Shelf

My love of all things old continues, my latest obsession being vintage wooden ladders! I find old, worn, loved-up ladders so charming – they transport me to a realm of nostalgia in the same way that teapots do. When I look at them I think about all the excited feet that could have stood on them before… young couples painting their first home together, an excited daddy-to-be preparing a nursery or the father that is always there to help out his kids (now adults) with any renovations. Maybe this pregnancy is making me more emotional than I first thought but either way it is a symbol that warms the cockles of me heart and I wanted to use a ladder in my home. All the better that it is an old unloved material that completely cancels out the need to chop down a new tree. Check vintage stores, gumtree, Ebay, opshops, the local tip and roadside collections. And remember… the more paint stains the better!

What You’ll Need

  • An old ladder
  • Spirit level
  • Brackets – the amount will depend on the ladder size. For one this size I used two along the bottom and one to stabilise at the top.
  • Wall plugs
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Extra pair of hands is useful in this project… maybe two if you have a longer ladder!

Method

1)   After you have found your ladder you need to pick the perfect spot for it!

2)   If your ladder is a step ladder then you will need to take the two rails apart. Once apart choose which part of the ladder you will use… you may even want to use both!

3)   Hold your ladder up against the wall to measure whereabouts you want your shelf.

4)   Measure with spirit level to ensure the ladder is level.

5)   Borrow the spare set of hands and slide the brackets into place (where they will need to be to hold the ladder up) behind the ladder and quickly pencil in the holes. You want the brackets to be as hidden as possible which means the outside/underside of your ladder will sit on the bracket like a shelf, rather than being supported like a perch. If that doesn’t make sense just look at the third picture in the below sequence.

6)   Drill the holes into the walls. Hammer  in the wall plugs and then screw in your brackets.

7)   Once your brackets are drilled in, rest your ladder upon them. Put a bracket on the top of your ladder to secure and stabilize it and repeat the bracket drilling process.

8)   Once all your brackets are drilled in and your ladder feels securely ‘wedged’ you will need to screw the brackets into the ladder. Very gently drill screws into the ladder… you must be careful so as not to split the ladder.

9)   The amount of brackets you need and the way in which you organise them will vary depending on what size and shape ladder you find. Just make sure it is secure and supported. Then, the fun bit…

10)   Time to decorate! I had so much fun choosing what goodies to put on my ladder. Bobert (my leaf-tailed Gekko made from scrap metal) has pride of place and every time I look over at him walking up his little hill it makes me smile. Then I have the champagne glasses that Mark and I left our wedding venue still holding (completely accidental theft, I promise!) and I filled them with pebbles and shells that I collected the day after I met him. It is so lovely to be able to honor those little things that make your heart sing every time you look at them!

And here it is from one more angle… just because pride is bursting out my eyes like little sunbeams…

 

If you like this sort of quirky shelving you may also like my DIY Tutorial for “Book Shelves” wink wink. See that here.

I will leave you with this beautiful quote about… what else?… ladders!

One only gets to the top rung of the ladder by steadily climbing up one at a time, and suddenly all sorts of powers, all sorts of abilities which you thought never belonged to you — suddenly become within your own possibility and you think, “Well, I’ll have a go, too.”

Margaret Thatcher

Big News, Little Facelift and A Whole New View

Well it has been quite a while since I got my blogging clogs on… two whole months in fact. And my, my how much can change in such a short time! Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to all the little emails and messages that I got, checking I was still alive and greening. I am! And after a two month interlude I feel that not only should I give a bit of an explanation on where the hell I’ve been but also a re-launch of sorts. I am taking the blog in a slightly different direction and wanted to explain how I got there and the little journey I have been on.

The Big News

Back in March I started feeling really sick and really tired. There are some fairly obvious deductions a young lady can make about those symptoms and after a quick dash to the chemist it was confirmed – we are expecting a little bundle of joy! My gorgeous husband and I are ridiculously excited about the bub but I have encountered one not-so-tiny drawback… morning sickness. Except it was actually all-day-all-night sickness! This is not the type of green I like to promote on my blog! So even though I have been dying to update my blog I have been completely incapacitated. My amazing husband has seriously picked up the slack and has basically spent the past few weeks carting in buckets and buckets of raspberries – Hero! Slowly, slowly it is starting to get better though so it is onwards and outwards from here my friends!

Nicknamed Yertle.

The Move

In some weird collision of fate my little family has made the move back into the home we own rather than our gorgeous shabby rental in Freo. The timing was partly perfect (due to the impending expansion of our brood) but also a tad upsetting as Secret Harbour is a decidedly less eco suburb. I have moved past the devastation though and I am now actually really excited about this new challenge! In Fremantle it is expected and oh, so easy to be environmentally friendly. Don’t get me wrong, that is fab, but my blog is about encouraging people to be sustainable which includes a large amount of people who may not have all the resources conveniently at their fingertips! I am now one of those people. I will be constantly reminded about how hard choosing the more sustainable, ethical option can be for some people and therefore will make sure I give as many options, ideas and resources as possible.

We have set sail for the coast.

What does this all mean for the blog?

Even though I have been splitting my time between moving house and vomiting (charming beast aren’t it?) it has, in a way, been great having a bit of time away from the blog. It has given me time to look from afar, think about what I enjoy writing about most, seeing which posts you guys like reading the most and just pondering how I want to approach life in general. Here is what I came up with…

More Positive Posts

In the past I have undertaken massive and draining articles about huge issues like the other GFC (the Global Fish Crisis) or Palm Oil. The main reason I wrote these was because before looking at how to change bad habits, I like to ensure I am absolutely the full bottle on the issue myself. I used it almost as a self-education process. But one thing I have noticed is that even though the posts are important, reading about catastrophe after catastrophe can be, well, bloody depressing. I also found it made me narrow-minded and a bit cockeyed really – a Green Nazi if you will.

We definitely all need to make sure we know exactly what is happening in the world – knowledge is power – but I think it is also SO important to focus on what we can do as well as acknowledging the good that is being done already. Use success stories as your cheer squad – prevent that completely unconstructive feeling of hopelessness. So while I will touch on the nitty gritty I will mainly focus on what we can all do to avoid contributing negatively to the planet. This being said… there will be the occasional issue that I won’t be able to pass on – Monsanto, I’m looking at you punks!

There’s still a whole lotta beauty in the world!

Health Focus (With Occasional Baby Bits)

I want to make my house the perfect healthy environment for a little munchkin to grow up in which for me equates to no chemicals, organic food and a happy lifestyle. And – according to Mrs Obama – that means being selfish and looking after myself! This is a new concept to me. So I am looking forward to exploring and experimenting with natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, possibly throwing away the TV and cooking foods from scratch. And updating my blog with the progress of course.

More DIY and Upcycling

Now that I am in my own home I am able to renovate, retrofit and plant! I have so many projects that I just didn’t have space for in the last place so I am really excited to now have the ability. Hopefully I can give ideas on simple DIY ways to be more sustainable (eg; growing your own food) as well as fun ways to reduce your impact (like making your own products, furniture and art). I will also commit to using as many (if not all) recycled and reclaimed materials rather than just being one of those craft blogs that just goes out and buys everything new!

Bunting… or “Funting” if you will?

And Finally…

In keeping with the selfish theme I am just going to start enjoying life a bit more. Get out there exploring (with my camera always in tow so that I can share my virtual picture album). Be happy. Read some books. Draw.  Smooch my husband a bit more. Take the scenic route. Marvel at simple beautiful things… like strawberries! Choose some crazy wallpaper just because it makes me laugh. Read Dr Seuss every day. Judge less. Do more for animals. Finally, hug that Boab in Kings Park (his name is George). Celebrate the good that is being done rather than mourning all the bad. I have come to the conclusion that a smile will change a lot more minds than a big, ranting frown will! So here goes.

Barefoot and without a care in the world.

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what the inspiration is behind this sudden perspective change then please take some time out and watch the video below. Alice Herz Sommer provided me with a virtual kick in the arse. When I’m 108 I want to be just like her…

“I look where it is good. I know about the bad, but I look at the good thing” 

– Alice Herz Sommer, Happiest Woman In The World! 

Less Is More Festival – Saturday 18th February

Illustration by Clare Long

I am absolutely loving how many amazing eco events are popping up around Perth nowadays. We have turned into a city of ‘doers’; people have stopped waiting for the action to come to them and are instead creating it for themselves. The community has become so proactive and so supportive of anyone that has a desire to do more; more recycling, more learning, more teaching, more green get-togethers! In accordance with this new movement (a revolution where knowledge is power), an amazing green actionist from Perth has addressed one of the weird paradoxes of sustainability: Sometimes to do a hell of a lot more you need to focus your attention on doing a hell of a lot less. Enter the ‘Less is More Festival’.

The hero of our story is Claire Litton who has organised this fabulous festival with an amazing point of difference… NO MONEY ALLOWED. Have you ever heard of an event organiser stipulating such a ridiculous caveat? But as Claire sums up beautifully on her blog;

“You can’t buy the things that are really important!”

This wonderful anti-consumerist festival is about teaching ways that we can all consume less and reuse more.  There will be a number of workshops from various inspirational Perth greenies showing practical ways to apply the three R’s to your daily life – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and yes, that is in order of importance).

You can find the full list of workshops here but here are a few of my favourites;

Living Plastic Free

A young couple (Jess and Nathan)  discuss how they went plastic free for a whole year. This is particularly pertinent to me as I have (today in fact) started my own 365 days of going completely plastic free *gulp*. I am also the Online Campaigner for Plastic Free Freo campaign so it will be great to meet some inspirational people that are leading a plastic free life.

Upcycling

We are a culture obsessed with throw-away fashion. A 2005 study found that Australians spent $10.5billion on clothes that are disposed of after a short amount of time because of passing fads or poor quality.  Learn how to create a completely new and fashionable wardrobe from your old clothes or op-shop finds. Agnes will have hands-on activities and an informal presentation. People can watch but are also encourage to bring something to upcycle. Look through your cupboard… be brutal.

MYO Toothpaste and Deodorant

One of Perth’s loudest voices for living sustainably (and a favourite of mine) Shani Graham from Ecoburbia will be showing everyone how to make your own toothpaste and deodorant with standard ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry! You must bring two small jars for this so you can take your DIY products home with you.

Homemade Ginger Beer

NOM! Learn how to make your own Ginger Beer with Ronan and Rebecca. Not only will this recipe save you the empty calories of your standard soda’s but will also save hundreds of plastic bottles every year.

Those are just a few of my faves but there are plenty more. To get the most out of the day see the timetable here and plan ahead.

Kids

This is a family friendly event but there will still be some workshops that are for the adults only – so best to check with Claire beforehand if you are curious. This being said there are also events specifically for the littlies. The fabulous Eco Faeries (possibly the cutest organisation in the world) will be wandering round provide fun for the kids and getting them involved in sustainable games, interactive art and even a sustainable children’s story time at 10:30am.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;

we borrow it from our children”

~ Chief Seattle

Summary

I am so excited about this festival. I hope you are too. Here are the details;

10am – 4pm
Saturday 18 February 2012
The Grove Community Centre
1 Leake Street, Peppermint Grove