Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gill the recycled holiday fish

Happy upcycling holidays everyone!

I trekked back to see my family in mid-Michigan this Christmas with many-a-handmade gift to give. My 9 year old niece and 4 year old nephew excitedly took me to see their neighborhood fish. I wondered why this particular fish lived in the parking lot of some nearby stores, but since you should never question the enthusiasm of kids, I went along with it and assumed they wouldn't be that excited if his health of living in a parking lot was questioned. When we pulled up it all made sense - Gill was constructed completely from recycled plastics. He was created mostly from laundry detergent bottles, but there were also pieces of plastic plates and an old wading pool in there, too. He also had holiday lights strung throughout him, making him a recycled aquatic Christmas tree of sorts. There's certainly more than one way to spread holiday cheer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ReMake your holiday gifts!

Hey there RePlay readers! Looking for a last-minute gift that's handmade, but doesn't take you a lot of your own time to make? Gift the gift of ReMake It kits! There are five to choose from - wine cork trivet, glass bottle lamp, magazine stationery kit, bottle cap magnets, and the newest addition is the plastic bag trash can! If you live in the New York City area, you can pick any of these up at the Union Square Holiday market in the Karma Kiss booth. And tell 'em we sent ya.

If you're not near NYC, you can order them online at Karma Kiss or at GreenFeet.

The trash can makes a great gift and you can pick up more than one and you don't have to limit it to just plastic bags. Try out some of Kathy's recent creations from t-shirts, paper, and more.

Happy holiday upcycling!

Friday, December 3, 2010

ReMake It! Paper Waste Basket

It's time for this week's ReMake It Trash Can DIY!

The Paper Waste Basket

ReMake It! Trash Can
1 or more magazines
Cereal box
2 Ribbons (approx 12" each)
Box Cutter (optional)
Clear Tape

Time: About an hour

1) Tear 10-15 colorful pages out of an old magazine (if you have a box cutter, cut along the centerfold to avoid tearing). It’s easier to use a magazine with sturdy paper- for example Vogue or Artforum.

2) Cut strips ¾” wide by 4 ½” long.

3) Take the first strip of paper and wrap it around two of the spokes. Tape the end of the strip down taut to the paper to form a paper chain link.

4) Build the first row of chain links by repeating step 3 until you circle around the trash can. There should be a gap between each link.

5) Start a second row on top of the first by making paper chain links that loop together each set of spokes that have a gap in the previous row. The result is a checkerboard pattern that alternates between a gap and a paper chain link. As you build each layer on top of the last, leave one space open the whole way up.

6) Now we’re going to fill in the open space with a trash can label. At the RePlayGround studio, we’re going to use this trash can to sort recycled paper, so I’ve made a corresponding label. Cut out large letters from a magazine, then cut out cardboard squares and glue the letters on to give the label a good backing. Next punch holes in each of the four corners.

7) Take an end of each ribbon and tie it to the top rim of the trash can. You can secure the knot by taping it down with a small piece of clear tape.

String each ribbon through the corresponding top and bottom hole of the first letter, then loop each ribbon around the nearest spoke. Keep stringing until all the letters are in place. Tie off the ribbons and secure again with tape.

Once you’re done, your Paper Waste Basket will put all other trash cans to waste!

Stay tuned for the last ReMake It! Trash Can DIY in this series!

Upcycle away,


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Candy wrapper napkin ring project

As your Halloween candy pile has dwindles into a pile of wrappers, we have a great upcycling project to satisfy your crafty cravings. Here we’ll show you an upcycling trick to transform wrappers into napkin rings – the perfect treat for your Thanksgiving celebration. Then, in the true spirit of recycling, you can reuse them again and again. It’s a sweet way to decorate your dinner party without spending a dime.

You can follow the video above, or get the complete how-to by clicking below!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A new turn for the ReMake It trash can - plastic bags!

Hello all!

I'm back this week with a DIY on my first ReMake It! trash can project:

Plastic Bag Trash Can

ReMake It plastic bag trash can frame
A few plastic bags (we used 2)
About an hour

1) Find some colorful plastic grocery bags. With your scissors, spiral cut around the bag in a long strip that is approximately 45” long X 1 1/2” wide. If it's easier for you, cut smaller strips and connect them together with clear tape. You will need a total of 17 strips.

2) Tie the end of each strip to a spoke towards the bottom of the trash can.

3) Starting with one strip, wrap the strip over the spoke to the right of the spoke the strip is tied to. Pull the strip back up between the two spokes you are working with. Leave the first strip, and repeat the loop with each of the strips.

4) Once you’ve completed your first row of loops, repeat step 3 with a new row on top of the previous row. Keep building rows until you reach the top of the trash can!

5) Tie the strips to the top rim of the can. Trim the excess ends of the strips and tape down each knot with a small piece of clear tape. Once you've tied off the ends, you've got refuse recycling skills in the bag!

See you next week for a new ReMake It can project with recycled magazines!

Upcycle away,


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Home grown!

Locally grown, fresh produce runs in my blood. When I was a kid my dad was notorious for overplanting tomatoes, zucchini, and pretty much all vegetables. And in theme with recycling, my family doesn't like to waste anything, so we turned those surplus veggies into a small business. As a part time project, my parents, brother and I would harvest the excess vegetables and sell them at the local farmers market on the weekends. My parents still run their Threadgould Gardens biz in mid-Michigan and during the summer and fall you can find them at the Meridian Farmers' Market every Saturday. True to my farm-rasied roots, I still buy a lot of my fruit and veggies there at the Greenmarkets around New York City.

My good friend Janie, who has also worked at that same farmers' market, shared a great video where you can see my dad, Janie, and a lot of the other Meridian Market locally grown crew. Click on this page and play the video. And visit your own farmers market! It's always tastier when it's homegrown!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Do the T-shirt Trash Can Twist!

Hi again! I hope you've all been thinking of fun designs for your ReMake It! Trash Can. Here's my new DIY trash can project of the week. It's the T-shirt Trash Can!

ReMake It plastic bag trash can frame
A few t-shirts (we used 3)
About an hour

1) Find some old T-shirts that you are ready to recycle! Cut the t-shirts into strips 40” long X 2” wide. You will need a total of 17 strips. I chose 3 colors, but use as many different fabrics as you like!

2) Tie the end of each strip to a spoke towards the bottom of the trash can.

3) Starting with one strip, wrap the strip over the spoke to the right of the spoke the strip is tied to. Complete the wrap around by pulling the strip up between the two spokes. Now wrap around the spoke the fabric is tied to and pull the strip back up between the two spokes. Repeat until you’ve reached the top rim of the trash can.

4) Knot the strip to the top rim of the trash can. With the excess fabric, tuck neatly back down into the top weave. Trim any extra fabric that sticks out.

5) Take the strip tied to the left of the spokes you just finished. Repeat steps 4 and 5 from above for all strips, overlapping the last strip you just finished weaving. You may need to spread apart the already weaved strip so you can loop the new strip over the metal.

When you’ve tied on your last T-shirt strip, your new trash fashion will be this season’s must-have trashion accessory.

Have fun! I'll be back next week with a brand new design!

Upcycle away,


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meet the New Eco-Crafty Intern!

Hi everyone!

I'm Kathy and I'm the new intern at RePlayGround! Already I'm learning a lot about wasting less and finding a new use for the things I'd usually toss. Besides coming up with upcycling ideas at the studio, I also repurpose glassware and photo frames with rolled magazine strips and a glossy lacquer. Take a look at my work at

My first project at RePlayGround was to find a new design for the ReMake It! Plastic Bag Trash Can (as seen above!) Check back soon for a DIY on how I weaved the plastic bag strips.

Each week for the month of November I will post a new ReMake It! trash can design from scrap material found at home and at the studio. If you have a ReMake It! can, send us a photo of your creative design and we'll feature it on our blog! Email me at kathy(at)replayground(dot)com.

I'm excited to work with the eco-crafty people here at RePlayGround, and learn to reincarnate trash into functional, fun treasure!

Upcycle Away!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

ReMake your Halloween - Crafty Inspiration

Halloween is coming up fast and there is no shortage of ideas for recycled costumes and decor. I picked out a few favorites that I hope will inspire you to ReMake your Halloween!

The cardboard box robot is a classic, and you can find tons of inspiration online - including detailed instructions on this very blog!

If you've got some boxes you need to use up, and don't feel so robotic, try being a Lego instead.

Evil Mad Scientist shares a fantastic bat costume made from used umbrellas.

I'm a sucker (ha, ha) for octopus and squid, so I am totally charmed by Dollar Store Crafts' no-sew Octopus costume (made with socks and an old sweatshirt). You can also see some great ideas for Halloween decor on the same site - like the scary lighted skulls made from plastic milk bottles.

(And on November 1st, don't forget to save your candy wrappers to make upcycled jewelry!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What's for lunch? More real food, less waste challenge!

photo by Abby Kelly

Check out this great Waste-Free Lunch Challenge that happened recently in schools across Ontario, Canada.

This program took place as a one week challenge to help schools reduce their garbage. What a great way to put the education system at work. Apparently the average student's lunch generates about 60 pounds of trash per year! That's like the size of a child! There program even has incentives for the classes that have the best participation.

The article also gives a shout out to good old TerraCycle for their dedication to collecting and upcycling hard-to-recycle food packaging. TerraCycling your food wrapper is a great solution when you can't avoid a completely waste-free lunch. You can sign up for collection brigades in the US, Canada, and many other countries.

Read the whole article here. If you're involved in a school system outside of Ontario, why not try to bring a similar program to your school?

Monday, October 18, 2010

From table to table (with a few stops in between)

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I kind of like to compost.
On a recent sunny Saturday, I worked on my compost pile sifting through decayed veggie peels and other food matter. That's the payment - one afternoon's worth of work once a year in exchange for being able to use drop off compost on Wednesday or Saturdays. And not only did I walk away with a large (recycled) yogurt container filled with what is considered "black gold", but also a better understanding of how food breaks down.

Seeing the compost get dumped from "cooking" for a few weeks and transferring it to a larger bin, you see the recognizable pieces in the mix. Corn cobs are still pretty much corn cobs and coconut shells are of the more determined to stay coconuts, but it's pretty amazing how most of the rest of it - orange peels, carrot tops, egg shells - all break down and start looking like dirt again.

I do work at a company that got its start in compost. In worm poop to be exact. But I'm in the design department and don't experiment much over with the lawn and garden crew other than eat lunch once in a while with them and use the fertilizer myself. So seeing the whole compost process was really helpful. And will make me way more diligent in removing stickers, rubberbands, and other foreign objects before piling it in my compost. I'm usually pretty good, but when sifting at the pile they're all still there, so better to remove 'em beforehand.

Post-compost on that sunny afternoon, I took my newly sifted black gold and planted a few containers of herbs (In upcycled containers of course! You can read the how-to in my upcoming book called ReMake It! In stores March 2011). The basil, pictured above, is sprouting already and I can't wait until it grows large enough to use it on the last of the season's tomatoes. Who knows what that dirt used to be - maybe at one time it was tomatoes and basil? I think the new plant feels right at home.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brooklyn Skillshare this Saturday!

Hey, New Yorkers!

For those of you who missed us a couple of weeks ago at Maker Faire, you have a second chance to catch us in action this Saturday, October 9th, where we'll be teaching a glass etching class at Brooklyn Skillshare at The Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School in Bed-Stuy.

The event runs from 10-4 and is open to the public with a suggested donation. Our class is at 1 pm, but come early and stay all day for a great range of classes (including crafting from plastic bags, taught by our friend Stephanie over at Garbage of Eden!).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The 30 Under 30 Contest!

I'm pleased to be a judge in Ecover's first ever 30 under 30 contest. I just don't know how I'm going to decide among the treehugging dirt-lover, the water crusaders, the book sharer, the veggie-powered biker, and loads more. You can check out all of the great submissions here. It's great to see so many young eco-activists out there. And even though there can only be one grand prize winner, all eco-activists are winners in my (shared) book!

Make it Faire in New York City!

Thanks to everyone who made it on down to the Maker Faire last weekend to craft it on up with us!

Crafty and clever were kicked into high Maker-style gear with loads of do-it-yourself goodness. The NY Hall of Science hosted this rockstar event where you could learn to solder, get your hair cut (electronically), watch Coke + Mentos spew 30 feet into the air (and fight for your own bottle of flat, minty soda), check out the life-size mousetrap, get a lesson in crocheting, tear apart old computers, and of course reconstruct your faire share of recycled projects. Whew. Then, just when you were in need of a DIY recharge - you could noodle on over to the delish food fare - some with secret ingredients.

Plus, whoa, there was loads more to see. It was common to hear that you just couldn't see everything in one day, or even weekend.

Here are some RePlay highlights:

do-it-yourself upcycling action at the RePlayGround booth

The deconstruction room with the TerraCycle design crew and goggles so stylish I'm thinking of trading in my rhinestone glasses

a visit to the super crafty Megan Nicolay of Generation T fame. With our super-coordinated, I-swear-it-wasn't-planned reconstructed T-shirt attire.

Our friend Rebecca, the NY Hall of Science Librarian, and her crocheted security sensor cozy

The yarn-bombed rocket ship

And the end of the weekend was topped off with four really really nice editors choice awards to the RePlayGround booth by our friends at Make Magazine and the NY Hall of Science.

Thank you Maker Faire! We hope you come back to NYC for a visit real soon!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make it to Maker Faire!

If you're at all into do-it-yourself-ing and making stuff and anywhere remotely near the NYC area, then the Maker Faire at the NY Hall of Science is event you must make it to this weekend.

You can learn how to knit, make your own circuit board, craft up a metro card holder, twist up some plastic bag magnets, and much much more.

RePlayGround will be there ReMaking stuff and showing you how to ReMake stuff, too. You can even catch Abby, myself and the rest of the RePlayGround crew showing you how to make gift bows, wallets, and more out of TerraCycle food wrapper. And catch my demo on the subject at 11am on Saturday in the Craft stage at the Faire.

Catch the faire and make stuff for yourself!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We're in a generation T!

I'm pretty busy these days creating DIY projects of my own, so it's not often that I find time to follow a project that someone else has created. But there are times when I'm feeling a little crafty and come across that perfect project that is clever and just plain simple. Like this tank top project - from my friend, Megan Nicolay's newest book - Generation T - Beyond Fashion. This style is "The Best of Two Tees" and you can get the book and do-it-yourself just like I did. Super clever, super easy, super-duper DIY!

Plus in true making stuff DIY style - you can see Megan's recent blog post about my t-shirt skirt on her blog.

And if you're in the NYC area this weekend, you can catch Megan, myself, and a whole slew of DIYers at the biggest DIY event around - the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. If you can MAKE it here, you can make it anywhere.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

High flying trash!

Ever wanted to fly a kite on the roof of a building in New York City? Well tomorrow is your chance!! I'll be at the Port Authority with TerraCycle kites and some extras to share. If you caught the Oreo Cookie wrapper kite in the first episode of Garbage Moguls, here's your chance to fly one of those all by yourself. This event is being put on by our friends at the Fashion Center so check out their website for all of the details.

Woo hoo! Hi flying, trashy fun!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trash talkin' with More Hip than Hippie!

The hip ladies over at More Hip Than Hippie recently called me up to talk trash. You can listen to the podcast on their site here. It'll fill you in on all of the trash happenings around RePlayGround because we're always loaded with lots of fun upcycled goodness!

Thanks for the great interview Dori and Val! You guys rock my eco-world!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Make stuff with us!

Are you a recycling enthusiast? Do you love talking about and teaching others how they can make stuff? Do you live in the New York City area? And are you just generally fun to be around? If you answered yes to the above questions, we want to hear from you!

We're pleased to announce that we're looking for a new part time PR and Events Coordinator here at our RePlayGround. Responsibilities will include general PR promotion of our do-it-yourself recycling goodness, and event coordinating and planning. Email your resume and why you're perfect for the position to jobs (at) replayground (dot) com.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Life for Shredded Paper

On a lunchtime stroll the other day I noticed that someone was putting shredded paper to good use in a tree pit.

We covered something similar in our Rethink/Reuse series last year, and it's always nice to see "trash" being used for noble purposes, like keeping our hard-working street trees* a little bit healthier. (*Did you know that each year, 272 tons of air pollution are intercepted or absorbed by trees in NYC? And that street trees raise surrounding property values? Learn more here.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tristin and Tyler talk trash with Tiffany

My new friends Tristen and Tyler stopped by my design studio a few weeks ago. I showed them the latest in RePlayGround trash projects and we upcycled up a storm. Check out this "Tristin and Tyler's Tales from the City" clip and maybe you can make something for yourself, too:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

T-shirts and tomatoes

It was a year ago today that my good friend Josette and I got ready for the tomato festival of our lives - La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain. Imagine a city-wide food fight with only tomatoes to throw. Most anyone who knows me knows of my love of tomatoes, particularly of the homegrown variety. But I must say after having tomatoes thrown, smeared and smushed all over you, you kind of lose the taste for salsa for a while. It's been a year now and I've long been back on the tomato wagon, partaking in this summer's bounty.

In preparation for last year's exciting event, I didn't want to wear just any old shirt. I wanted to show off a little crafty New York love. Here's the how-to for turning an old I heart NY tee into a one-of-a-kind tank.

2 old t-shirts
fabric scissors
safety pin
sewing machine or needle and thread

Transform a t-shirt into a tank:
1. Cut the arms off the t-shirt. Then cut straight across the top, just under the neckline.
2. Fold in the edges .25” around the armpit. Iron down. Sew in place. Then, fold .25” under on both flat sides across the top. Iron. Then fold under again by 1” and iron. Then hem along this edge. These sewn strips across the top will become the casing for the top ties.
3. Cut 1” wide strips off of the bottom of another t-shirt. Pull on the ends to make the edges roll in. Tip: you can also use ribbon in place of t-shirt strips.
4. Attach a safety pin to one end of the t-shirt strip. Work it through the casing. Repeat with another strip for the other side. Tie the ends in a bow on either side. Your new tank is ready to wear!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Garbage Moguls! Airing this Saturday!

Hi there friends of RePlayGround! If you're friends of us, chances are you're friends of TerraCycle, too! I'm excited to announce that TerraCycle's trashy reality show, Garbage Moguls, is airing this Saturday. And it's not just one episode. It's four trash-packed episodes airing in a eco-marathon. You can catch me in the shows along with the rest of the TerraCycle crew.

Tune in to the National Geographic Network at 7pm EST and rewatch the pilot kite-flying episode. From 8pm - 10pm you can watch three all-new episodes. What garbage will we attack? That's why you need to tune in. You never know what kind of trash turns up at TerraCycle.

woo hoo garbage moguls!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NYC Expands Recycling - and we've got an even better idea

Good news for us New Yorkers - speaker Christine Quinn has just announced a major expansion of the city recycling program. This means more types of plastics, e-waste, and textiles get recycled, and there will be more public recycling bins all over the city.

Great news - but why not go one step further and try to keep stuff out of the recycling stream in the first place? Recycling is awesome, and definitely better than sending material to landfills. But it still involves a lot of waste and energy spent. After all, the trucks that come to pick up your bags of plastic jugs and aluminum cans sure use a lot of fossil fuel, and then everything needs to be crushed or melted down in big factories before it becomes reusable raw material - not a simple process! - so we think that upcycling your waste, re-making it into something useful before it ever hits the trash can or recycling bin, is the best solution of all.

And we have plenty of suggestions on how to do it. Plant your herb garden in those old yogurt cups. Save your soda tabs for a stylish belt. Weave thick cardboard or treated paper into nifty placemats or coasters. Or check out our projects index for more ideas, and happy upcycling!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Etsy Recyclers Guild

A fellow design junkie and friend, Erin Stevens, turned me on to the Etsy Recyclers Guild which is "A GLOBAL community of eco-artists, crafters, and vintage sellers who have united in the name of green."

We love Etsy, we love recycling, and we love supporting communities of eco-artists. Stop on by for a visit and support your fellow trash lovers. There's even a shop that puts members' upcycled goods all in one convenient shopping spot.

Be sure to check out Erin's "trashy" couture site like this necktie camisole. I own a similar one and get compliments every time I wear it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Satisfy your NYC Maker Faire craving this weekend!

Hey there New York City area people! Are you drooling in crafty anticipation for this September's first ever NYC Maker Faire?

You can get a taste of it this weekend at the NY Hall of Science. Think of it as an appetizer to Maker Faire's do-it-yourself projects. RePlayGround will be crafting it up once again this Saturday and Sunday from noon - 5pm. Saturday will be magazine stationery and Sunday we'll be making food wrapper wallets and collapsible dishes. Plus we'll have even more upcycled projects up our vintage sleeves. All projects are free with museum admission so stop on down and craft it on up!

Friday, July 30, 2010

MAKE it to Detroit this weekend!

RePlayGround is coming home! RePlayGround started out in Michigan and we're pleased to be a part of Maker Faire Detroit this weekend. If you're in the Detroit area, you don't want to miss this event showing off Motor City's mad making stuff skills.

We'll be showing people how to make wallets and pencil cases out of TerraCycle's upcycled food wrappers. It will be loaded with lots of craftastic fun!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reader DIY "favor"ite project

Jocelyn, a RePlay blog reader shared her own image from this Wine Cork Keychain project we did for CraftZine last year.

Here's what she said
"I've been waiting to get started on this project since it was posted on the blog. We're having my daughter's Bat Mitzvah at a winery in October, so this was the perfect favor (for the adults, anyway). We've made a bunch, so I thought I would share the picture with you. Hope you enjoy seeing your clever idea come to fruition. We're delighted with how cute (and green) they are. It's also free advertising for the winery, which is great for them.

Thanks for such an original project. Definitely a first for a Bat Mitzvah favor, I'm sure!

Jocelyn (and Amanda, the Bat Mitzvah girl)"

I just love seeing it when DIY recycling goodness makes it into hands of the talented and crafty. Just look how easy do-it-yourselfing is! Happy Bat Mitzvah, Amanda!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The NY Hall of Science will Make your weekend!

If you’re in the NYC area this weekend and looking for something fun and crafty to get your hands on, stop on by the NY Hall of Science.

In preparation for the Maker Faire this fall, the NY Hall of Science is loading up their weekends with extra DIY opportunities around the Musuem.
RePlayGround will be on-site this weekend, July 17-18 and on August 7-8 from 12 AM to 5 PM showing everyone how to ReMake items into new. You can also catch us at the granddaddy of all Maker Faires at the first ever held in New York on September 25-26. We wouldn’t even dream of missing that one. And you shouldn’t either if you’re in the area.

This weekend we’ll be showing off all of our Crafty favorites. Saturday is cereal boxes galore with cereal box pencil cases and wallets, Sunday will be food wrapper focused with collapsible dishes, wallets, and more.

Stop on by and RePlay with us. All of the projects are free with general admission to the museum. Just bring your crafty self and join us for some good ole fashioned ReMake fun!