Friday, March 25, 2011

Recycle it, Upcycle it, Freecycle it!

A couple weeks back I shared a link with readers on the Upcycled Stuff Facebook fan page for an organization called Freecycle.  It was a brief encouragement to consider donating some of the things that you might be tossing out during your spring cleaning to someone else who might be able to use it.  Well, I had a really interesting Freecycle moment this week that made me think this whole Freecycle movement might be blogworthy.

My latest Freecycle ask
Freecycle is an amazing community of people across the country who form smaller community groups to share their unwanted goods and find things that they need.  It is a grassroots effort to share perfectly good stuff within a community and keep it out of the landfill.  It's completely free and each community has local volunteer moderators.


Made from an olive jar
This week on my local Freecycle there are people offering up children's clothes, "well loved" furniture, a french drainpipe still in the box (that they found stuck in the tallest parts of a tree after recent windstorms), and much more.  On the other side, people were looking for fans and air conditioning units, moving boxes, a push mower and lots more.  It's true you need to be careful and realize that there are some people who will go ad to ad and take everything they can get their hands on and have a yard sale or put it on craigslist.  It is a bit disheartening when you see people from abuse shelters asking for donations for the families they serve and then you have takers who are just trying to make a buck.  I just try to remember, it's not going into the landfill.  But I digress.

This takes us to my Freecycle moment.  I put up an ask early this week for people's trash. Yup, you don't see too much of that but that's all I ever ask for.  This time it was for aluminum cans and glass food jars for a project I'm working on. As typically happens, I got a lot of responses asking what on earth I'm going to do with it all. I've sprinkled some of the pics of my projects throughout this post.

Go Clemson Tigers!
One of the women, Debbie, who responded to my plea didn't have the items I requested but told me she'd be happy to collect them for me as she used them.  We started chatting and one thing led to another and I ended up collecting a TON of packing materials from her.  She had just moved and was happy to pass on some small boxes and padding for shipping.  Here's the story I love!  The packing paper that I collected from her originated in Puerto Rico when another freecycler moved from there to Florida.  It was passed on to Debbie for it's most recent move from Florida to South Carolina.  Now I will use it to ship product all over the country.  Hopefully, the folks on the receiving end will find some great use for it in a craft project or their own shipping needs. To top it all off, I think there may be a great friendship in the making!  You see Debbie owned her own craft store when she lived in Florida and we had a lot to talk about.

Cute project in progress

That is my Freecycle story and I hope you will give it a chance. Pay it forward and keep it from the landfill!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Got Envelopes?

Whether you are among the rare breed who still loves to write letters or you're more like me and search frantically for an envelope to mail that once a month bill that you can't pay online, I have the perfect upcycled solution for you!  Origami envelopes made from old magazine pages are an artsy, economical and fun solution to your mailing needs.  Below are two different styles of envelopes that I use to tuck many of my upcycled jewelry pieces in before mailing them out.

And, yes, you can put these directly in the mail for things like letters and cards.  All you need is a label and a stamp and it's ready to mail...you'll probably want to slap on some tape to make sure it stays closed.  I'll give you the best step by step tutorial that a still camera will allow for a very simple upcycled envelope.  But you can find many video tutorials if you search the web.


Start by flipping through your favorite magazines and tear out a page that appeals to you.  Cut the page into a square, the size doesn't matter as long as it is an exact square.   The size of the finished envelope will be approximately half the size of the square you start with.



Take your square and make two diagonal folds.  Reopen the paper, your two folds should form an X and the exact center of the page will be marked by the intersection of those two lines.

 


 Next, fold in two corners to the center point, like this:




Unfold one of the flaps, keeping the other folded.  Refold along the center fold.  You can start to see your envelope take shape.




Now this is the only part where you can "eyeball it."  You're going to form your sides.  When you fold your sides in, keep in mind that one side will be tucked under the other and you don't want to fold the point back on itself.  Just try to keep the sides folded in the same distance.





Take the top flap and fold it back on itself .  The place that you fold it should match the central fold on the envelope beneath the flap. 







Then stand that point up at a 90 degree angle and open up the triangle.






While holding the triangle open, place your finger on the folded end and squash it down to form a diamond shape.





Now just  fold down the top flap along the previously made fold line.  Run your finger over all of your fold lines a couple of times to make sure everything is crisp.  Then just tuck in your flap and ....



Viola!  Now stop reading this blog and go write some letters.
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