These days it’s as important as ever to find ways to reduce and reuse, and there are several sustainability projects you can do yourself that won’t take much time or effort but will make a big impact on the Earth…in a good way. The first step is to decide what you need, then look around your house, garage, or storage space to see what items you can use to make it happen. Get creative and force yourself to think a little outside the box in order to see things in a different way.
(Be sure to first check with your landlord or homeowner’s association to make sure any large-scale sustainability projects won’t be an issue. Not sure where your home stands? Check here.)
Here are some of the coolest DIY sustainability projects that you can easily do at home.
Get fresh in the kitchen
Have you ever been cooking a great meal and wished you had fresh seasoning instead of shaking it out of a bottle? Start your own indoor herb garden! They’re a beautiful aesthetic to any kitchen and you’ll be getting fresher ingredients for every meal. Make your kitchen even more sustainable by composting your scraps and using them to fertilize your garden.
Broken washing machine? No problem.
It’s an unfortunate truth that appliances sometimes just cannot be fixed once they reach a certain age, but the good news is, you don’t have to throw them out right away. There are still parts which can be repurposed and put to good use if you have a keen eye and the right tools.
One fantastic project is to turn a washing machine drum into a footstool, extra seating, or storage. This would be ideal for a kid’s room as it’s sturdy and has a cool industrial look. A piece of plywood cut to fit the inside provides a base for a cushion; if you have one that will work, great! If not, you can easily sew a small pillow using old clothing and a mixture of material scraps and organic cotton fill.
Thick wood scraps from harvested trees make great little bookshelves that add personality to a room. If you have a good set of tools (or know someone who is willing to help you), you can create a whole set in a day. You’ll need brackets and some sturdy wall studs, but there’s a tutorial here that makes it sound very simple.
Save big on shipping and gift supplies
Most of us have a cache of paper and plastic shopping bags; they come in handy to use as trash can liners and for picking up after pets. But there are other uses for them, as well, and if you have a sewing machine and a few minutes, you can save big on expensive shipping envelopes and gift wrapping supplies.
You can take a large paper bag, cut off the handles, and reinforce three sides on the sewing machine. After your items are safely inside, you can tape down the open end for a perfect–and free–package.
You can also make beautiful gift-toppers from plastic bags. You just need a pair of scissors and some string or a kitchen tie.
Tailor your bath needs and save
If you’re feeling super crafty, you can make your own soap or body scrub with sugar, herbs, and various oils. Depending on the desired scent or your skin needs, you can tailor these items to your personal taste and save money at the same time. You’ll need some special tools for soap-making and be sure to read tutorials very carefully, since you’ll be working with lye.
There are many things you can do to existing parts of your home to make them more sustainable, as well, such as installing a solar cover over your swimming pool to utilize the sun’s heat to keep your water warm. As always, before starting any project it’s a good idea to make sure there is adequate room for it and that it won’t infringe on any homeowner rules.
Paul Denikin began learning the ins and outs of DIY home repair while making his home better fit and more accessible for his daughter, Maggie, who has special needs. Paul wants to continue to help special needs parents like himself, and offer them a source for ideas. And that’s why he created DadKnowsDIY.com, a website that offers home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information. When Paul isn’t being handy around the house, he likes to take Maggie to the movies on the weekends.
washing machine barrel photo by tripleigrek, cc2.0