Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Have Yourself a Very Recycled Christmas

The Conscious Shopper pops back into the Booth to share some ideas for free Christmas gifts.

In October every year, the church that I attend organizes a day where we gather to make a variety of inexpensive crafts that can be given as Christmas gifts. This year, the women in charge asked if I would head up a free gift - perhaps something made of recycled materials. Ah, my reputation precedes me.

After pondering their request for only fifteen minutes, I knew exactly what craft I wanted to teach: recycled paper beads. You may have seen tutorials for these beads around the interwebs, but if you haven't made any yet, you have no idea how cool these beads really are. You start with a paper triangle, twist it around something tubular, glue the end, and voila! you've made something that looks from a distance like a real plastic bead.

But it gets even cooler! The color of your beads depends on the recycled paper that you choose (magazines, maps, posters, scrapbook paper), and unless your paper is a solid color, each bead will be unique. You can also vary the length and width of the paper triangles you start with, creating long beads, tiny beads, fat beads, and skinny beads. You can string the beads on elastic to make a bracelet, on cord to make a necklace, or add store bought beads for a more polished look. So many possibilities, and all with materials you have lying around your own home!

You can find a full (illustrated) tutorial for making these beads here. Or if you are not the crafty type, you can also purchase recycled paper beads from Mzuribeads, a cooperative of Ugandan women who handmake the beads.

For the activity at my church, I taught a class on how to make these beads and also set up a display table filled with other things I've made by repurposing what I already have. Although I'm a pretty sad sewer, I pull out my machine every now and then, and I've come to view many items that most people would throw away as a gold mind of fabric, especially shower curtains, sheets, jeans and other pants, and wool sweaters. You've seen my shower curtain produce bags before, and here are some napkins I made out of an old sheet. I also displayed a jeans quilt that my mom made out of my old jeans when I was a teenager - it's one of my most prized possessions.

Finally, I provided the class with a long list of ideas of other things to make out of trash. Maybe you'll be able find an idea or two in the list. Get ready for some scrolling!

Wool Sweaters

** This is a Meaningful Memory Post. If you would like to share your greener holiday traditions in a guest post, please email us at greenphoneboothATgmailDOTcom.


robbie @ going green mama said...

Erin, welcome back!!! These ideas are great; I'm trying to come up with some "big people" gift ideas!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Wow, what an incredible list! Thanks for compiling. Wish I could have been in your class.

Green Bean said...

What awesome ideas! Those beads are the coolest thing I've ever seen. Do you think kids could do them?

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Green Bean - They are definitely easy enough for elementary age kids.

Elizabeth said...

Wow the "faux metal wall art from toilet paper rolls" is amazing!

I braid rugs, slowly. My grandmother taught me and I have several of the rugs she made also. I also have the last rug she was working on that I have not finished yet. I have the box of wool, some already sound in strips and spooled, some just cleaned and waiting for more time to get at it.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Elizabeth - I know! It's so amazing what people come up with!

Rpsa said...

This list is amazing, thank you!

metal wall art said...

Thank you for sharing this kind of article to us. It is hard to think of some Christmas gifts to your loved ones. Also, it is more heart warming when you give a gift that is a handcraft.


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