How can I reuse or recycle old glass blocks/glass bricks?

September 24, 2012 by  
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We’ve had an email from Whitney, asking about reuse/recycling ideas for glass blocks (or glass bricks , as they’re also known): We just bought a house and making a lot of renovations. We removed some glass blocks from an old bathroom window and I want to reuse them for something. I love glass blocks and since they didn’t get broken in the renovation process I’d love to do something with them. I’d love to be able to drill holes in them and place lights for outdoor use, but don’t know how to do it. I was also thinking about just placing them around the garden, but am looking for some more innovative ideas. I love the idea of using them in the garden – for bed/path edging for example, or if you have a lot of them, as a privacy screen/divider. I imagine in time the edge seals might become damaged and bugs or greenery may creep inside but that could look pretty cool too 🙂 More creatively, I’ve seen them used effectively as the “legs” on simple tables – panels of glass blocks at each end of the table top, though I’m not sure how it was all fixed together – any ideas? Any other practical or creative suggestions for using them either inside or outside of the house?

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How can I reuse or recycle old glass blocks/glass bricks?

How can I “reuse” fresh eggs that we can’t eat?

September 4, 2012 by  
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(Hi! Sorry to regular readers for the stupidly long break in posting – I’ve been reading all the comments as usual as they come in, just not posting any new content myself due to a combination of busy-ness, illness and laziness. I’m hoping to get back to regular scheduled blogging again now though!) This question is a bit like the one I posted six years ago (!!) about ways to use up no longer fresh eggs but this one is a little different. We’ve got our own chickens now so always have super-fresh eggs – but sometimes, like this last weekend, I have to give them medication or treat their coup with things that mean we shouldn’t eat their eggs for a few days. The eggs look perfectly fine but there is a risk of contamination so we can’t eat them. I can’t bring myself to just throw them in the compost though – or even throw them at my boyfriend when he’s not paying attention… 😉 I know egg yolks can be used as a hair conditioner or for a face mask – does anyone have any favourite recipes/techniques? I’ve also heard some people using them as a fertiliser boost for plants – do any plants particularly benefit from an eggy treat (especially at this time of year), or is there any that definitely shouldn’t have it? Any other suggestions? And finally, less on topic but critically important, did you all have a good summer? (Or good winter, if you’re on the southern side of things?)

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How can I reuse or recycle empty bottled gas/propane cylinders?

April 2, 2012 by  
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Lyndon has emailed to ask about reusing – or recycling – propane gas canisters (the ones for heating, barbecues or patio heaters etc): Trying to tidy up the yard at work, what can I do with some old gas bottles? If there is a company name on the bottles (like Calor Gas, Flo Gas or TotalGaz – to name but three), the safest/laziest thing might be to contact them to see if they could pick them up – gas bottles get reused again and again by gas supply companies and if the canisters are still in reusable condition, they might be more than willing to take them off your hands and put them back into circulation. (They’ll be able to dispose of any remaining gas too.) (UPDATED: see the note below from Calor – you should really give their tanks back to them.) Empty or old gas bottles also pop up quite frequently on Freecycle/Freegle, Gumtree and eBay as it is cheaper to refill old tanks than buy new ones every time (and hurrah for that!). Again, hopefully they’ll disappear from your yard with minimal effort and be reused again & again. As for non-intended purpose reuses, some people turn them into outdoor woodburning stoves – but do be careful if you want to try anything like that yourself! Safety first, and all that. Have you got any suggestions for how he could reuse these bottles? Or ways to recycle them? And any other advice (particularly about safety issues)?

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How can I reuse or recycle empty bottled gas/propane cylinders?

How can I reuse or recycle large (catering size) food cans?

March 30, 2012 by  
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Sam has emailed asking about large food cans: I have a number of large metal food cans, some zinc lined, which are called #10 size. They hold about 5 or 6 lbs (just under 3kg) of beans, or other foods. Now that they’re empty, they are open on one end, with no plastic lid to fit them. Any ideas? Surely I’m not the only one faced with this. I can recycle them, but would like to reuse them. They sound like pretty big tin cans – probably similar to what we call “catering size” in the UK. I think at least some of the ideas we have for regular size tin cans could be supersized here: plant pots, candle/tea holders for several candles, or using them as a vessel for making those candles in the first place. But are there any reuses (or upcycling ideas) that are perfect for these bigger cans? Could the can be flattened out to make anything?

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How can I reuse or recycle large (catering size) food cans?

She recycled that! Upcycling novelty hats into bunting/pennants

March 29, 2012 by  
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Last September, Karen emailed us about the vast collection of novelty jester hats that her boyfriend had collected at various carnivals and festivals over the years. She wanted to know how she could reuse or recycle them as she hadn’t had much success giving them away. Lots of people made suggestions – including trying to give them to local schools/drama groups/groups that did clowning classes or making them into a purse or tea cosy – but Karen loved Meg’s suggestion of turning them into bunting/pennants : Last year I sent an email about novelty jester hats and of the suggestions was to make a string of decorative pennants, like the kind for birthdays (the upside down triangle). I did this and am pretty proud of the result!! Oh very fun! Great work Karen – and thanks to Meg for the suggestion in the first place! 😀 I do love to see what people are reusing and recycling – especially if they’ve been inspired by something on the site – so if you’ve reused/recycled anything in an interesting, clever or fun way, please do get in touch 🙂

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She recycled that! Upcycling novelty hats into bunting/pennants

How can I reuse or recycle wallpaper samples?

March 28, 2012 by  
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Following on from the paint tester pots the other week , I’ve got some wallpaper samples that have served their purpose too. I really can’t wait for our renovations to be over! Like the paint, the samples were to check out ideas/colours/designs in-situ. Some of them were torn from rolls in shops (with permission! I’m not just a random vandal 😉 ) and are about 60cm/2ft wide by about the same long, while others are A4 sheets that I’ve had posted out to check colours. They’re all thick, heavy paper as you would expect from wallpaper. Obviously the best thing would have been to reduce in the first place – to be a bit more decisive and not collected so many samples but like with the paint, these are to offset a potentially larger waste by picking the wrong thing – so now I’m looking for reusing/upcycling ideas. Most of them are “feature” wallpapers so patterns & colours that I like but not enough for them to be displayed as framed pieces of art in their own right. The ones with a small repeating pattern though could be used as paper behind something else in a frame though (for example, I have some pretty buttons that I might want to display – they would look great on some of the plain-ish pinstriped paper). They’d be fine for lining drawers too – many people (including us) don’t line drawers with paper any more because the insides on modern furniture don’t tend to be as rough on delicates as they used to be but it’s certainly worth doing on vintage furniture – and looks pretty too. Do kids still have to back school textbooks/exercise books? We used to use wallpaper (amongst other things) for that. The fact I have to ask that question probably shows that it’s not a reuse I could specifically do but others might be able to reuse wallpaper samples in that way — and I could keep some for next time I make a notebook for myself. Any other ideas? How would you reuse wallpaper samples? Are they suitable for any papercrafts or would they be too thick?

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How can I reuse or recycle wallpaper samples?

How can I reuse or recycle medical plastic tubing?

March 26, 2012 by  
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We’ve had an email from Janette asking about medical plastic tubing: I need to know how I might reuse/recycle medical plastic tubing. My husband uses an oxygen tank and the cannula (clear plastic tubing) needs to be changed every two weeks. After the nasal clip is removed, biowaste/garbage – there’s still a ten foot length (3/16″ caliper) of sturdy, clear tubing that I would have to discard. Any ideas? I live in the USA and the rural county recycling center I use doesn’t recycle this type of plastic. (3/16 caliper is just under 5mm apparently) That seems like it would be a really useful thing – the type of thing that would make a welcome addition to any tool kit. Some reuse ideas that spring to mind: using it to (softly) tie plants/trees to supports, wrapped around (and probably glued into place) a tool handle to provide some cushioning and I suspect some clever people could use it for drip-feed watering systems for greenhouses or the like. It could be used for craft creations in its own right too: I’ve seen people making statement jewellery from tubing before; I’ve been looking at pendant light fittings recently and saw one made from loops of (albeit thicker) tubing; and I wonder if it’s flexible enough to be used for macramé or crochet/knitting – anyone seen any projects that could use lengths of tubing? (One word of warning: apparently this type of tubing will discolour (yellow) over time when exposed to UV (sun) light.) Finally, it might be worth containing the medical supply company to see if they’d be willing to take it back for recycling – if enough people ask, they might be compelled to do something. Any other reusing or recycling ideas?

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How can I reuse or recycle medical plastic tubing?

What can I reuse or recycle as moulds for making new crayons from old ones?

March 20, 2012 by  
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We asked about stuff to reuse/recycle as homemade soup moulds not too long ago but Danell has messaged with a variation on that theme: I want to melt old crayon stubs together to make new crayons for kids. I know I could use old muffin tins or ice cube trays, neither of which I have, but I was wanting them in a little more interesting shapes. I’ve seen them made in candy molds, but again, I don’t have any. Any ideas? A lot of the soup mould ideas we had resulted in practical rather than interesting shapes – but I’m sure there are interesting shaped potential moulds out there too 🙂 I’d look to kid-related packaging – sweet (candy) packaging or toy packaging which is formed plastic around a shape. With Easter coming up, there might be a few egg or bunny shapes floating around for reuse. Another idea might be to make your own moulds: I suspect Danell doesn’t have all the time in the world for carving intricate shapes but — and this is a complete I-have-no-knowledge-about-this suggestion — could they be made from something like salt dough? Could you make a sheet of salt dough in a baking tray and press fun shapes into it – again toys or magnetic letters – then varnish it to use as a mould? Please feel free to correct me if that wouldn’t work! One thing to remember – there needs to be a balance between interesting shapes and usability. I’ve seen some new crayons made in star shaped moulds but I imagine the pointy bits would hurt small hands and be a bit awkward to hold too. Any other ideas? What have you used for interesting shaped moulds — whether for crayons, soap or sweets? Have you made your own moulds from anything in particular?

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What can I reuse or recycle as moulds for making new crayons from old ones?

How can I reuse or recycle the nets you get around wine bottles?

March 12, 2012 by  
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Long time Recycle This friend (and very frequent commenter!) Anna has a question about the protective sleeves slipped around wine bottles: Any ideas what to do with the plastic nets they put for wine bottles for protecting them when you buy one? I don’t drink wine so I had to turn to my friend Google to see what those nets are like – some have big holes and look foamy, whereas others have smaller holes and look more like the thin plastic netting you get garlic bulbs in (a smaller version of orange/onion nets ). I think the former are to provide some “bounce” protection while the latter just keep all the big bits of glass together in the event of a breakage. (Please correct me if I’m wrong about those assumptions.) Either way, the first suggestion has to be reduce if you can: if they only add the netting at the shop after you’ve bought the wine, don’t let them: either take an old net to reuse or throw caution to the wind and just go nude 😉 As for reusing them for other things, the thinner/smaller holed nets can be filled with bird seed to make your own bird feeders, filled with the ends of old soap bars and hung on an outside tap for garden clean-up, or bunched up to make washing scrubbies. I’d be tempted to throw a few of the foam type ones in with our reusable shopping bag stash for when we go to the supermarket for a big shop – they could cushion glass jars and other glass bottles to save them clinking together all the way home. Opened out flat, the foam ones would also be useful as cushioning under heavy plant pots (so they’re less likely to damage/dint the surface they’re stood on) or between occasionally use crockery to save that knocking together too. How do you reuse or recycle those nets?

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What food packaging & other household waste do you use for starting seeds?

March 6, 2012 by  
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It’s seed-starting time here in the northern hemisphere and my Twitter feed is full of exciting stories about what fruit & veg people are going to be growing this year. I’ve added half a dozen more fruit bushes to our garden this year but I’ve not sown any seeds yet — my seed box is sat on the side of my desk making sad puppy eyes at me as I type 😉 Gardeners & allotmenteers are just about always resourceful types when it comes to reusing and recycling stuff – I don’t think I’ve ever met a grower who doesn’t keep ice cream/margarine tubs etc for reuse – but I thought it would be worth having a bit of a sharing session about what you reuse for starting seeds, as plant pots or as water-catchers under plant pots, and if there is anything that you choose not to reuse for whatever reason. At one point, a good few years ago now, I think about 90% of my seeds were started in plastic mushroom tubs — either directly in the tub or using them to catch water draining from plants pots. In the past, I also used shallow fresh pasta packaging as starter trays and multi-serving yoghurt/cream pots for the growing on stage. I know my dad keeps the clear plastic boxes used by supermarkets for muffins or pastries whenever he gets them because the lid gives the tray its own little propagator/greenhouse too – and similarly he cuts down 2ltr pop/soda bottles to make a pot with its own little cloche. Moving away from plastic – since I do worry about putting plastic in direct sunlight/warm spots when it’s not designed to be used in that way, I’ve used newspaper and toilet roll tubes to make “plantable” pots – the former just require a little folding into shape and the latter can be cut in half to make twice the number or left whole as “root trainers” for growing carrots or parsnips. (I also cut up plastic milk bottles & drinks cans to make plant markers for all these many, many seeds!) So, what packaging (or other household waste) do you reuse for starting off your seedlings? What about for the growing on stage?

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What food packaging & other household waste do you use for starting seeds?

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