Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recycle your heart - DIY Valentine event at Sustainable NYC

Valentines Day is a great opportunity to express your creativity to the people you love. I am happy to announce that this Wednesday, February 4th, I will be leading a workshop at Sustainable NYC on making valentines cards out of garbage, using the stationery template from our magazine stationery ReMake it kit. Suggested materials include old metrocards , maps, credit cards, wine cork rubber stamps, sheet music, magazines, snack wrappers - the list is endless! Anything that you can find! We provide stationery templates, materials, and space to create- you provide $10, any materials you want, and your imagination.
Recycled Valentines Day Card making workshop: Wednesday, February 4th @ 4-5:30pm, $10
Pre-register or just show up at: Sustainable NYC store
139 Ave A/9th St.
New York, NY 10009
or call at 212-254-5400 or email at
Space is limited.

Making re-purposed crafts is fun on your own, but it's a hundred times better to collaborate with other creative people. What a great opportunity to combine your craftiness and love for your valentine sweetheart! This event great for kids, artists, students, and local community members of all kinds.

We can't wait to see you there!
Garbage Outreach Coordinator

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Garbage Outreach Co-ordinator enters the scene!

Hey RePlayground readers,
I'm very excited to make my official entrance on the RePlayground blog
as Garbage Outreach Co-Ordinator! My goal is to give you the tools and
inspiration to get creative with your garbage, and bring
sustainability back in style. You may have seen me on this blog before here, sporting some recycled sweater projects here, and talkin' trash over here.

I am a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where I earned a degree in Liberal Arts, studying subjects ranging from visual art to economic theory to sustainable development. I am passionate about artistic ventures that promote awareness of resource use and human connection to natural cycles. I also love bike touring (slow travel!) and teaching yoga to kids.

I have been lucky enough to work with design extraordinaire TiffanyTomato since June, and in that time I've been inspired to re-examine my relationship to temporal, disposable materials. Recycling and re-purposing are all about changing the way we look at objects, giving them new value instead of burying them in a landfill. In this way, re-purposing materials is both value creation and personal expression in a medium that is unique to your imagination.

Look for more posts by me, Garbage Outreach Coordinator, as well as info about upcoming RePlayground events in NYC.

Yours in Garbage Outreach,
~Carly Miller

Monday, January 19, 2009

An organic garden on the White House lawn? Yay change!

Change is good! As we embark on a new Commander in Chief, we not only get a fresh attitude, we could possibly get fresh vegetables, too.
I'm not sure who first suggested an organic garden on the White House lawn - perhaps it was Michael Pollan in his Farmer In Chief letter (in the final paragraphs of the letter), or from the website or It's a simple and elegant idea that could spur tremendous local garden growth.

Planting a garden on the White House lawn could do so much more for home gardens than any formal PR campaign could ever do. Eleanor Roosevelt demonstrated a similar solution during WWII with the Victory Garden movement.

Who knows - maybe once the White House garden gets growing, they'll be able to add a hoop house in 2010. This time next year the Obamas could be munching on spinach grown in their front yard.

Sign the petition here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Why do we buy water when the clean, pure liquid flows for free from our tap? That leads us to question - is that liquid coming from our tap, in fact, pure?

Our friend, Elizabeth Royte, studies that exact question. Just as she wrote Garbageland and followed each wastestream from her Brooklyn apartment to the landfills and recycling facilities where they ended up - she does the same with bottled water in Bottlemania. She starts in Maine at the Poland Spring bottling facility and adventures on to water tastings and water cleanup plants in serarch of the answer - is our water safe and why do we buy water, when we can get it from our tap for essentially, free.

In many cases, when a water source becomes contaiminated, it's cheaper to truck in bottled water than to clean the source. But is clean water a human right? If we don't protect our own tap water, it'll become contaminated and we'll all be forced to drink bottled water And don't forget about the environmental effects of the bottling waste, the transportation costs and carbon footprint of shipping all of those bottles across the country and overseas.

Sure, there are times when the convenience of bottled water has its place - when traveling or when far away from a clean water source. But if, for the most part, we all continue to drink tap, we'll continue to create a demand for it and will keep our water local.

If we don't protect our water, then what's next - canned oxygen?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Craft with Nature - win stuff!

Our friends at Singer and Craft Magazine are putting on a contest to create projects inspired by nature.
The grand prize winner gets a Singer sewing machine, plus their project will be featured in a Singer ad in the spring issue of Craft.

Sew be sure to tune in to your inner outdoorsman before February 4, because that's when these puppies (or whatever you come up with) are due.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Recycled memories can keep you warm

Hats off to my friend, Kellie from Fancy Felting, who sent me these pictures of her handmade Christmas gifts.

She said the stripey hats are made from remnants of yarn from her grandma’s 70’s-80’s projects. The one her grandpa (far right) is wearing is made from an old wool vest knit by the red cross when he was in the coast guard. And they were all lined with remnant fleece fabric. What a crafty way to preserve memories and give a really thoughtful, personal gift. The ones below are on location for a few relatives that were snowed out of the above Christmas celebration.

There can't be a better way to preserve a beloved family member's memory than to build from something they created. It's the crafty version of passing stories from generation to generation - taking somthing from a family member, altering and embellishing it to suit your style and passing it on to those around you.

I love craft projects because there's always a story behind them.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

built to last

Going home for the holidays reminded me of how I grew up and how my family was eco-friendly long before we knew we were being ecofriendly. We heated a large portion of our house with a wood burning stove fueled by fallen trees from the woods in our backyard. We put vegetable peels in a backyard compost pile. It was nice to return home again to take part in these rituals.

In fact, the way most everyone lived 20 - 30 years ago, before plastic bags became popular and 100 calorie single serving snacks appeared on store shelves, would be considered eco-friendly by today's standards. Back then it wasn't considered special. Now, more effort is required to tell a cashier that you don't need a plastic bag, rather than taking one. And it's more convenient to buy a plastic bottle of water than to drink from a drinking fountain. What changed?

My dad pulled out his toy train from when he was a kid and set it up to see if it still worked. Sure enough, the train still went forward, in reverse and even whistled as it went (along with some entertaining sparks when we added toy cow obstacles). It was over 50 years old and still worked just fine. My dad recalls that it probably cost his family around $100 at that time, which by today's standards would be a lot of money. And the plastic toy train that my 2 year old nephew received this year probably cost less than 40 bucks. That's a pretty amazing feat that, even with inflation, manufacturing costs were lowered after 50 years. But I bet you a herd of toy cows that long after my nephew's train is broken, my dad's train will still be running. Which one would you rather have - the fancy new plastic one, or the old, black vintage train with tin toy tunnels and curious looking conductors? Call me crunchy, but I think I'm more of the vintage-type.