Make Something New from Something Old

| 8/19/2010 4:38:11 PM

Tags: question to readers, DIY, recycling,

Yes — that means recycling. But it can be so much more! I spend a lot of time rummaging in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS archives looking for neat, unusual and unique projects built by our readers. What amazes me is how folks even imagine remaking a particular piece of “trash” into a usable product.

Check out this pet door — a little sheet metal, some canvas and magnetic ribbon, and your pet has a new door to use. Or this handy candle heater — can you envision a situation where you would need a little heat (in an ice-fishing house, a deer blind or maybe in a vacation cabin when a storm comes in and the temperature drops dramatically)? A few tin cans, a couple cups of sand and some candles. Voilà! You have a heater. This is why some folks have garages and basements that are filled with used, leftover and otherwise-useless stuff — so they have the raw materials for an urgent DIY project, without having to go to the store.

We’d love to know about the most inventive project you’ve made from repurposed materials. Tell us about it in the comments section below.

8/26/2010 4:20:46 AM

I am making rabbit bags as gifts (For the men)for Christmas this year, I had the twine and the rings (used old key rings), but I needed a one inch netting needle and a two inch gauge, so I jumped on my bike looking for something to use to make this out of, low and behold I found a large flower pot floating in the stream, and with in a sort time I had my first rabbit bag. (rabbit bags is a hunting net that is placed over a rabbit hole to catch rabbits as they come out).

vicki mangum
8/25/2010 4:01:50 PM

We placed steel posts 2' in the ground and then lifted a pallet over them to hold the pallet in place for an instant fence. I have a friend who used this same concept and packed adobe mud in the pallets and built a comfortable chicken coop. Why not a house to live in? After the strong walls are up one can put some "skin" on the inside and outside walls. I have lost 127lbs. I am using my "fat clothes" for material to make my greatgrandson and granddaughter some clothes. I take a picture of me with these clothes hanging off of me and then a picture of the children's clothes. I put each set of pictures on the same page in a scrap book along with space for a picture of the child in each outfit. What a memory book? I am going to also make a few quilts out of the scraps of this material as well. I am saving old tuna fish cans to oil paint decorative scenes on and will fill the inside with candle wax and a wick. This is almost the same concept as taking an old gallon paint can and setting up a candle system in it for a "Stove in a Can" for camping or when the electricity goes out.

8/25/2010 2:50:56 PM

We made our top-bar-beehives almost entirely out of old wooden pallets.

8/25/2010 12:47:42 PM

I make crocheted tote bags from used plastic grocery bags. To make "yarn": flatten and fold bag along original creases. Cut off handles and bottom seam. Fold in half lengthwise twice. Cut in roughly 2" sections, 8 total. Unfold to make loops. Connect loops with slip knots. Wind into a ball as you work. Crochet or knit into beach totes, purses, reusable shopping bags, small rugs, anything! Its very strong, flexible, lightweight, and easy to clean. You can do the same thing with bread bags, but the "yarn" is cut different. I haven't tried it yet so no experience on that one. These also make awesome, (cheap), eco-friendly gifts!

8/25/2010 12:38:50 PM

Old bed springs make great bean trellises. Spraying them with a little clear varnish keeps them from rusting too badly after we cleaned it up. We also used the discarded twin headboard as our garden gate. We also salvaged the skis off a snowmobile at the dump and made a box out of salvage plywood to make a utility sled to collect firewood in the winter.

mary kay bramble_4
8/25/2010 8:54:31 AM

An old window - the kind with multiple "lights" (panes) makes a great art or photo frame if you have the wall space.

mary kay bramble_4
8/25/2010 8:52:15 AM

An old rake (without it's handle) makes a great hanger for my grilling tools. I just nailed it into the wall so that the little leather loops on the handles of my tools can hang up there. You can also use rakes to hang mops and other kinds of tools.

mary kay bramble_4
8/25/2010 8:46:57 AM

I made a wonderful project that I found in a book, 'Junk Market Style' It is a candle chandelier made from on old rusty piece of garden fence. I used glass insulators for the candle holders and decorated it with found objects like keys, feathers, eucalyptus, orphan earrings, an antigue watch, and a feather or two.

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