For the love of Recycling

Last night it was The Creative Project Devon’s June meet up. I was lucky enough to give a showcase talk about how I reduce waste in my design work. I should mention this was after a fab talk by the Exeter Scrapstore, who filled me with joy that I can become a member and get some materials for me to enjoy with my toddler at home.

I also provided the raffle prize, which was a Reloved 52 Imagination Parcel. These will be sold in my etsy shop in the near future and are aimed at creative people. Inside the parcel is a selection of materials with no instructions and a card explaining that the materials can be used anyway you choose and that there are no rules! When they’re ready for general sale I’ll provide a link, but for now here’s a photo of what it looked like:

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The wider ethos of Reloved 52 is to keep stuff out of the landfill and give objects new life, so cutting down on waste and unecessary spending is very important when I’m designing.

In order to prepare for this talk I had to sit down and think carefully about how I achieve this and what processes I use. Having not previously thought about this, I found it very eye opening to write it down on paper.

What I realised is that I ask myself questions when I find I’ve got materials left over. How I organise those materials is absolutely key to my work as a designer.

I prepared a handout to go with my talk and I thought I would share it here on the blog too, as it might be handy for some of you lovely creative folks out there.

This is the Reloved 52 guide for creative people on how to cut down waste:

Reloved 52 – How to reduce and reuse your wastage.

I know that the word thrifty is not terribly popular these days but essentially this is my guide on how to get thrifty. It’s good for your business and the planet to cut down on wastage and find ways of making other products to be more profitable. This works for small independent businesses as well as your home life. If you’re anything like me then often you are juggling both anyway!

How to get started – these are the questions I ask myself when I find I’ve got wastage or excess materials from a project

  • What materials can I reuse for home or business purpose?
  • If I can’t reuse them can I recycle them?
  • If I can’t recycle them can I upcycle them for a different use or project?
  • Can they be stored for later if I can’t think of a use for them straight away?
  • Is there anybody else who could use the scraps if I can’t?
  • Sort into different sizes for easy access later on (especially with fabrics!)

What materials do you most commonly work with? Can you find a new purpose for your wastage?

Give yourself a challenge – make a project without any new materials – only stuff you already have. This is a great way to use up old things and flex your creative muscle. I try and do at least one thing every day that uses something up. It doesn’t have to be a big project.

Here are ten recent projects I’ve done lately to use up old stuff & keep my spending down:

  1. I used an old suitcase I had as teddy storage for my toddler daughter.
  2. I made a play kitchen out of an old side table, some yellow paint and some chalkboard paint.
  3. I used some old lace to make a new necklace.
  4. I made some fun art prints of animals out of excess handmade paper.
  5. I went through my wardrobe and am currently halfway through a huge mending pile – some clothes may be upcycled if I can’t fix them!
  6. I cut off the legs to my old maternity jeans and turned them into fabric boxes.
  7. I made floor cushions out of jungle fabric and used the leftovers to make matching toy hammocks for (yup you guessed it) more soft toys.
  8. I planted my seasonal herb garden in otherwise unused household goods (a broken handled teapot, bamboo noodle bowl etc)
  9. I needed new craft drawers so instead of buying them I painted an old small set of drawers I already had in a grey colour– actually I had two sets, the other one I painted in bright colours for my toddlers room.
  10. I used old vintage buttons from my collection to make beautiful rings.

Push yourself to come up with new uses for old things and soon it’ll become second nature. In fact you may have to stop yourself eyeing things up before they’ve outlived the original purpose!

Bonus Idea

Reloved 52 originally started as a blog to cut down spending on unnecessary items. These are the things I now ask myself before buying anything new.

  • Do I really need it?
  • Can I make it instead?
  • Can I trade with a friend?
  • Can I buy it in good condition second hand?
  • Can I buy it from a local indie or from fairtrade?
  • Can I afford it now, can I wait for a sale?

When I first started this process I found I would stop at the first question because I didn’t really need whatever it was. As the years roll by though, I find I naturally don’t want things I don’t need because I’ve trained myself to think differently about stuff.

Question your purchases, Question your rubbish bin! 

Happy thrifting 

Jessica x

Vegan Banana & Courgette Cake Recipe

Ah hello my beautiful loaf cake.

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I’ve tried loaf cakes before but often experienced the dense soggyness of disappointment. Not this time, this vegan banana cake came out with a beautiful texture and lightness. Yum nom nom.

Let’s get started!

You will need:

2 overripe large bananas

½ average sized courgette grated finally

75g coconut oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer)

75g brown sugar

225g self raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

handful of chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Mash bananas well. Grate courgette straight into the bowl and then mix well with the oil and sugar.
  3. Fold in flour, baking powder and spices and then the chopped nuts if you are including these.
  4. Pour mixture into your lined loaf tin. I like to sprinkle pumpkin seeds on the top for added crunch and joy. You can omit these or sprinkle with a topping of your choice.
  5. Bake for 20 mins initially. Remove from oven and cover with tin foil to prevent the top from burning. Bake for further 40-50 mins until skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 mins before removing from tin and leave to cool completely on a rack or on top of the tin. (Alternatively lose all self control and immediately slice and devour.) Tastes excellent by itself or even better with a generous slab of soya spread.

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There you have it, super easy, delicious and earth friendly vegan loaf cake.

Have a great week

Jessica x

Sources: I got the original recipe from BBC Good Food here (that website is such a lifesaver) and this recipe is a modified version of it. 

Vegetable Lentil Dahl

Easy lentils for easy meals, Simples.

Ingredients

tbsp olive oil

1 cloves garlic

1 x finely chopped onion

1 x grated courgette

3 x grated carrot

1 x veggie stock cube

350 gms red lentils

salt and pepper for seasoning

Herbs of your choosing (I like a sprig of rosemary)

Method

Fry the onion, courgette and carrot in the olive oil in a big saucepan or frying pan until the mixture softens and starts to go brown. Mix in the stock cube and a splash of boiling water. Continue to stir for 2 mins. Use a hand blender to blitz the mixture in the pan so it’s quite fine. Gradually add 750ml of boiling water. Once the water is combined pour in the lentils and simmer for 20-25 mins. Use a hand whisk to help the lentils break down (if you’re using your best pan try using a silicone whisk to prevent scratches.) It’s done once the lentils have soaked up the liquid and have gone nice and soft.

After cooking you can eat straight away as a side dish or on it’s own with some salad and bread. Russell discovered by accident that it tastes good as a topper to hummus on toast!

You can vary the vegetables you use depending on what’s in your fridge, great for using up veg that might be on the turn.

Keep leftovers in the fridge in a tightly sealed tupperware container for up to 3 days.

Happy cooking!

Jessica x

Project 4 . . .

Light up your flowery heart

I’ve been looking at the shade on this lamp for a while now. The base is the most glorious model of the eiffel tower & it has always bothered me that the shade is so dull. So what could I do to jazz it up a bit & give it a bit more colour . . .

Ingredients

1) Blank cream lampshade

2) Vintage old purple flower trim

3) Pva glue mixed with water

4) Good scissors

5) Co ordinating green lace trim

Method

First I ironed the flowery trim so it was nice & flat – As it’s quite old I had to test the heat carefully so I didn’t burn it. Then I toyed for ages deciding whether to stick it on the inside or the outside. I decided on the inside as I quite like the abstract look it creates when the light shines through it, rather than on it.

Then it got messy. Hello PVA. Hello sticky fingers. Hello fun times. I had to fiddle quite a bit with it as I couldn’t get it to fit in one piece and it was too fiddly trying to do the snippy triangle thing. So eventually I settled on cutting the trim in small rectangular sections and pasting them inside with the lovely gloopy glue. I love it when the glue dries on your hands & you can just peel it all off.

I did keep holding it up to the main light just to make sure it was all aligning properly. I did a fairly neat job & to hide the shadow line of where the trim ends inside near the top, I glued a co-ordinating green lace trim round the outside.

I’m quite chuffed with the end result, it looks really arty & individual & it seems fitting to sit atop the eiffel tower now! I really think Im hitting my stride with these projects now & I really feel there are so many more things I can do! Good job seeing as I’ve got 48 more to do!

See you for next week for Project 5

Jessica xoxo