I think there are few things more rewarding that working on and completing my own mini projects.
Whether it’s just for fun or for a specific purpose, DIY projects give you the freedom to be creative and learn some new skills in the process.
Recently I’ve tried to make my own home projects as sustainable as possible by using second hand materials and random bits and bobs from around the house.
Here are a few green DIY ideas for you to work on!
1. Homemade Face Mask
At the time of writing much of the world is (unfortunately) in lockdown due to COVID-19. But that means that face masks are the order of the day.
Making a mask is pretty simple and is a nice little project to keep you busy. Make a couple for yourself and even make some for friends and family, everyone needs them after all!
Make your mask sustainable and low impact by using leftover fabric or old clothes as much as possible. You can even use elasticated fabrics for the ear loops.
The above video is my favourite design but there are many others out there so feel free to look around. This one just uses a needle and thread but of course you could use a sewing machine as well.
If you don’t have access to either needles or a sewing machine, there are also designs that require no sewing at all.
2. Reusable Tote/Shopping Bag
If you’ve read any of my posts on greener shopping or my sustainable swaps list you’ll know that I’m a big fan of reusable bags wherever possible.
This guide from Yf’s World on Youtube is one of the most simple and practical designs I’ve seen.
She uses a sewing machine but again you could also make this kind of bag with a needle and thread.
The materials for homemade bags can really be anything, they just need to be thin enough to sew and strong enough to hold shopping or whatever you plan to carry. I’ve seen these made out of old tea towels, old pillowcases and even old t-shirts, so use whatever you’ve got!
3. Flower Pots and Planters
Gardening is one of the best things you can do from a sustainability point of view. And whether you’re growing herbs on your windowsill or creating your own outdoor orchard, pots and planters are a must.
But before you go out spending big bucks on brand new planters, first take a look around your home and see if you have any containers that could do the job.
So much of the packaging on products we buy never gets reused, so every DIY plant pot you can come up with is a sustainable win!
Containers come in all shapes and sizes so use whatever you have, and check out the video above for some inspiration.
4. DIY Hand Warmers
Irish winters might not be the coldest (shout out to my Canadian friends!) but they’re certainly chilly enough to leave your fingers frozen.
Homemade handwarmers are a simple solution and only require a couple of pieces of fabric, some rice and some very basic sewing skills to achieve. You can also add some essential oils to give your hand warmers a nice smell if you like.
5. Reuse and Decorate Mason Jars
This is one close to my own heart, from my time working in a zero waste shop. Glass jars and mason jars are some of the most common, versatile and reusable “waste” items you’ll find.
From food to flowers to storage solutions and decorative ideas, you’re spoilt for choice on how to use your leftover glassware.
This video will give you some ideas but by all means search around or come up with your own ways to reuse.
6. Homemade Napkins
Reusable napkins are one of the many items on my sustainable swaps list but there’s often no need to go out and buy them.
Just like the shopping bags mentioned earlier, these fabric napkins can be made of whatever bits and pieces you have knocking around the house.
However, I do think it’s better to opt for darker or multicoloured fabric where possible, because while these are washable , it can be difficult to keep plain white napkins clean!
7. Reusable Lunch Bags
The classic brown paper lunch bag may be quick and easy but eco-friendly it isn’t.
However, making your own fabric lunch bag certainly is. This way you get a custom reusable bag that lasts for as long as you keep it!
Tougher fabrics are better for these bags as they need to have a little bit of structure and be hardy enough to deal with heavier foods as well as spills.
If you like you can even add an inner lining or hard bottom piece to toughen it up a bit.
8. Old Cardboard for Storage
Cardboard might not be the most glamourous material out there but it’s certainly one of the most reusable and flexible.
I’m definitely guilty of stockpiling cardboard boxes in the hopes that they come in useful, and often they do!
You can use them as simple organising dividers in drawers or decorate them to make a nice storage container.
If you’re not a fan on the bare cardboard look you can wrap your cardboard in your old Christmas wrapping paper. Add a bit of colour, and reuse another material in the process.
9. Cork Placemats
This is a cool little project for any of you wine drinkers out there.
A lot of the cork that is used to seal bottles is not organic and therefore won’t breakdown or compost like natural cork. So it makes sense to reuse it when you can.
Cork is very versatile and has plenty of uses. The video above shows you how to make a DIY placemat or coaster but there are plenty of other uses besides. Notice boards and decorative projects are some other cork based ideas you could try.
10. Pallet Wood Furniture
Pallet wood might not be the best quality timber you can buy but it is certainly an easily found source of wood for any of your home diy projects.
Check skips in your area or ask local businesses if they have some they need to get rid of.
The handy thing with pallet wood is that you can try out new designs and carpentry techniques without worrying too much about wasting expensive treated wood. It also comes assembled already so if you like you can leave it in it’s pallet form and make your project using the existing shape.
I will say that it’s worth washing and treating the wood you use, particularly if you plan to use it inside. You never know what chemicals or materials this pallet has come into contact with on its travels.