Monday, December 28, 2009

Umbrella Repair

At Replayground, our favorite activity is turning old stuff into amazing new stuff. But we also like to remind folks that it's a great, green idea to keep and maintain the things you already own.

Discarded umbrellas in trash cans or gutters always look so sad, especially when you know they probably only need a little time and attention to look - and function - just like new!

With some more blustery weather expected in our neck of the woods in the near future, I thought it was worth sharing a great umbrella repair tutorial I came across on Instructables. And of course, if you've got an umbrella that just can't be resuscitated, consider turning the frame, or beautiful waterproof fabric, into something new and exciting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DIY Transit-card Christmas ornament

All you need is six metrocards to make this sturdy, geometric ornament that's sure to impress your Christmas guests!

1. Start by folding one metrocard in half, in both directions. Make all your folds in both directions to deepen the creases.

2. Now that you've got your center line, fold both edges of the card in toward the center. This will make two intersection triangle creases

3. This part is a little tricky: unfold your creases and you'll see that there are four triangles created between the folds (an X shape). Pinch the two side triangles in toward the center, and press down the new triangle forming on the end

repeat step 2 for the other side, so your metrocard now looks like a diamond with frog legs!

3. Repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 for all six metrocards

4. The next step is locking all the cards together. Although this seems difficult, it's based on a simple idea: locking the two different triangles made by the folded flaps.

Once the first few snap into place, it's like a light-switch turning on: you'll get it.

Use a safety pin to punch a hole in one of the geometric sides and string fishing line though, then hang on the tree!

For more photos, check out the metrocard ornament on my favorite craft site, instructables

Monday, December 21, 2009

DIY Coathanger Poinsettia Wreath

Our lighted poinsettia wreath made from old wire coat hangers got such a warm reception at our holiday party this weekend, I thought I'd post a little how-to. It's actually a product of a fruit-bowl-attempt-gone-bad which I'd like to look at as a happy holiday lesson. Never be afraid to play with your garbage - you never know what you'll come up with!

For our design, we used 8 wire coat hangers (you can use 6 if you like). It's really simple to do, and you don't need to worry too much about precision as any inconsistencies seem to even out nicely in the end.

1. First, bend the neck of the coat hanger so the hook is perpendicular to the rest of the hanger body.

2. Then bend the hanger at this center point, into two halves. Bend again (on top and bottom) at the middle of each half. Join the hanger tips with wire or clear tape.

3. Finally, arrange all your hanger petals, tips pointing out, into a poinsettia formation, and tape together at the top and bottom seams where they meet. (I tried using wire for this, but it slipped around too much - packing tape seemed to be the way to go.)

For added holiday cheer, wrap a string of lights around the wreath body, and hang in a place where everyone can marvel at your eco-craftiness!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Re-Make your holiday decorating!

This year, make your holiday decorations trashy!
Here at RePlayGround we are getting ready for our holiday trash-tacular party, and we've come up with some great decorations to inspire you to re-make your waste.

Instead of using paper or plastic plates that will fill your garbage and landfill, re-make your cardboard boxes into plates. Cut your cardboard into 6"x6" squares (adjust to fit the size of your hours d'vours) and cover the surface with wax paper. Instead of tossing them away, just peel off the wax paper and re-use! You'll never be a square with this eco-friendly party plate.

Check out our other cardboard creation, panel Christmas trees for decorating your party table. Circling the tree is a recycled paper chain, made by RePlayGround design junkie Abby Kelly.

Our next trash-tacular project is a wire-hanger wreathe to light up your holiday spirit! This project evolved from a fruit-bowl-experiment turned wrong, transformed into a Christmas-lit wreath by Abby Kelly

go Abby go!

Finished and lit! Can you believe this beauty used to be a bunch of wire hangers?

NY Times "Year In Ideas": Trash Tracking

One of the items in this year's New York Times "Year in Ideas" feature caught my eye: a piece on smart garbage.

The problem: curbside recycling programs are still fairly primitive compared to today's trash output. Highly recyclable (and often toxic) items, like computer parts and cellphones, are mixed in with regular garbage because there's no easy curbside pickup. (ed. note: Though if you're currently faced with disposing of this type of item, I highly encourage you to look into donating or recycling it - lots of major electronics retailers, among other places, offer free E-waste recycling prgrams these days.)

Read about Valerie Thomas, a Georgia Tech professor working to change that - she wants to create special smart trash cans that will be able to scan, and eventually help sort, our trash. Imagine if our 'disposal' process actually helped everyone pick treasure out of the trash! (In the meantime, there's always Talkin' Trash.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Upcycle Broken Christmas Lights into Sparkly Holiday Accessories

Have last year’s Christmas lights run out of their shining holiday cheer? Turn them into these cheap and easy earrings and necklaces. Cheap and easy - just how we like our trash.

We wrote up the complete DIY for those lovely folks. Get upcycling on your holiday accessories this year! Make it green and save some green at the same time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

DIY Bird Feeders

It's getting to be that time of year when our fine feathered friends need a little extra sustenance. Here in Brooklyn, I get pretty excited about being able to attract local wildlife to my yard and having rare sightings of "exotic" birds like cardinals among all the pigeons and sparrows. Depending on where you live, you might be surprised at the variety of birds who'll visit you once you put a feeder out. Here's an easy way to do that and keep a few beverage containers out of the garbage at the same time. You might have even done this project in elementary school art class!

Plastic bottles make excellent bird feeders. Birds like to be able to see their surroundings, so clear containers are appealing feeding stations. Soda bottles are easy to cut up with scissors, and I found that a cheap serrated kitchen knife is the easiest way to make holes in heavier plastic, like large juice bottles.

Use a permanent marker to mark out your feeding hole(s)- I just cut big "windows" close to the bottom of the containers but you could also add smaller holes up and down the length of the bottle, like this tube bird feeder. Just be sure to add a perch anywhere the birds will need to sit. Used wooden BBQ skewers and chopsticks make great perches and the plastic is really easy to drill through. You can add extra perches - the birds like to hang out around the feeder while they're waiting for others to finish eating. Finally, insert a skewer near the top and tie some ribbon or yarn to each end for hanging.

These simple plastic feeders might not be the prettiest, but the birds don't seem to care, and they tend to blend in with winter scenery anyway. You could also dress them up by choosing a series of matching bottles or playing with color-coordination: painting the perches and bottlecaps a bright color to match.

Milk cartons are even easier to work with, and a great project for kids. I dressed mine up with some contact paper (the waxed milk carton will probably hold up in the elements OK, but a little extra protection can't hurt, and it looks nicer).

It's a fun, basically free fall project - and with a little extra care and creativity, might even make a nice holiday gift for the bird lover on your list.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Uncommon Goods

Looking for upcycled, uncommon holiday gifts? As the name implies, Uncommon Goods is a great place to get, well, uncommon goods. And best of all they're now carrying our very own bottle lamp and bottle cap magnets. Be sure to check out their other upcycled stock, too!