DIY: recyclable self-watering herb planter (illustrated by yours truly)

Materials:

- 2-liter soda bottle with cap 

- A piece of newspaper or black plastic bag

- Cotton string or scraps of a cotton shirt/cloth

- Scissors or knife 

- Tape (optional)

Step 1: Cut the 2-liter soda bottle in half using scissors or a knife. Make sure that size-wise, there is about a 2-inch clearance between the bottom and the bottle cap once it is inverted. Make the necessary adjustments. 

Step 2: Unscrew the bottle cap and using your scissors or knife make 5 holes; one in the middle and four along the edges. Make sure the middle hole is big enough to fit your cotton string or cloth scrap.

Step 3: Cut three equal length pieces of cotton string or cloth scrap, about 12-15 inches in length. I cut up an old cotton t-shirt. Weave them through the middle hole of the cap, leaving about three inches facing outwards. 

Step 4: Line in the inside of the top half of the 2-liter soda bottle with either a sheet of newspaper or a black plastic bag. I used a black plastic bag because they’re everywhere in Mozambique, but newspaper is recommended. This creates a nice dark environment for the roots to grow. Leave a little over the edge at the top, and poke a hole through the bottom and feed the cotton string or cloth scraps up into the bottle from the bottle cap. (Optional: I taped the edges of the black plastic liner along the outside edge. You may also choose to cut off the excess once it is filled with soil).

Step 5: Holding the cotton string or cloth scraps up, you are ready to begin to add soil. Add your first layer and then take one cotton string and create a coil on top of the first layer. Add another layer of soil, and take another cotton string and create a coil on top of the second layer. Add another layer of soil, and coil the last cotton string on top of that layer. Add one more layer of dirt to top it off. These cotton coils will deliver water to the plant roots. 

Step 6: Add water. Soak the soil with water, allowing dirty water to flow from the ends of the cotton strings. Let drain completely, this may take up to an hour or so. 

Step 7: Place a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the 2-liter soda bottle and then insert the top half. The water shouldn’t reach higher than the bottle cap, allowing the cotton strings to sit in the water reservoir. Now it’s time to plant your seeds! 

Step 8: Care and maintenance. This is a self watering planter, so with a couple inches of water in the reservoir, you shouldn’t have to care for the plants for up to two weeks at a time. You can have a guilt-free spring break vacation and homegrown cilantro or basil at the same time, how fantastic! Every couple of weeks, remove the top half and soak with water to drain out any mineral build up and dirty water. Replace water in the reservoir as needed. 

Enjoy!

How to Recycle Old Clothes

3 ways to clean out your closet

If you open up your closet every season wondering why you’ve kept so many clothes that you don’t even wear anymore, listen up! There are many organizations and programs you can participate in to recycle and donate old clothes instead of tossing them in the trash. Here are our top suggestions:

1. Recycle Clothes at H&M

Donate your old clothes at participating H&M locations and they’ll take care of recycling the fabric. H&M has teamed up with DoSomething.org for their Comeback Clothes program as part of an initiative to help keep clothes out of landfills. 

2. Donate to Charity

Check out your local schools, charities, and Goodwill and Salvation Army stores to see if they’ll accept clothing donations. Your old clothes will end up in good hands!

3. Resell 

If you’ve got vintage or designer items lying around that you don’t wear anymore, try reselling them through a number of different channels.

Fashion Apps: Download apps like Pose, ThredUp, Twice and The RealReal 

eBay: Create your own listing for each item that you want to sell

Consignment Store: Search for a local consignment store in your city where they’ll take care of the reselling for you (be forewarned they’ll also take a cut of your earnings)

Once you sell and make back some of your hard-earned dollars, head over to Wantering to search for what’s on sale! 

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Coffee Cup Birdfeeder and Birdbath

I’ve seen a variety of tutorials for “teacup birdfeeders” online involving only glue, but the version we made here using a drill is much more solid.

We had everything we needed to build it on hand, minus the cup, which I picked up for a few kroner at a flea market, so building it was basically free: costs may vary depending on what kinds of tools you have laying around, but the idea is to use free and recycled materials if possible.

It’s a simple project that provides a new purpose for something (ceramic ware) that is widely available second-hand.

SUPPLIES


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Using a concrete drillbit, carefully drill a hole in the centre of the saucer.

2. Using a wood drillbit, carefully drill a hole to match in the top of the dowel or stake.

3. Tightly screw the saucer to the dowel, using a washer to distribute the force, and a rubber gasket to cushion the area between the metal and ceramic.

4. Sand the centre of the saucer and the bottom of the cup, and clean away debris: this provides a better contact surface for glue.

5. Add one layer of glue to both cup and saucer, and wait until it is tacky, or almost dry. 

6. Add a second layer of glue, and attach the cup to the saucer. Optionally, glue a spoon to the saucer as well!

7. Put a brick or board on top of the cup, and let it sit while the glue dries overnight.

8. Fill the cup with water, and the saucer with birdseed.

9. Enjoy the view!

16 simple ways to reduce plastic waste

Plastic is found in virtually everything. Your food is packaged in it, phones are made from it, and you might even chew on it in the form of gum. While most plastics are touted as recyclable, the reality is that they’re “downcycled.” A plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton.

Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

10

Here are some newly madeunder little Tree Change Dolls sharing secrets in the garden. I wonder what they are saying?

‘Neeti’ in the paisley top and orange pants is our May charity doll, currently up for auction on eBay to support Global March Against Child Labour athttp://bit.ly/1DYjyW2. The two other girls with be posted to my Etsy shop on 10th of May. I will have more details to share closer to the day.

I just love the little outfits my mum has made for these dolls!

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Our May Charity Doll is now up for auction on eBay! You can view the eBay listing here: http://bit.ly/1DYjyW2 (under John’s user name madang_man).

This lovely little doll is inspired by my Indian heritage and named after my twin sister. My mum has made her a lovely set of clothes for the windy weather she enjoys.

I will let her introduce herself:

“Hello! My name is Neeti. When I’m not in school or helping Mummy and Daddy at home I like making kites and flying them in the park. I love to make them from whatever material I can find. I decorate all of my different kites and the ones I make with my friends. When I’m older I want to study engineering and learn how to fly planes.”

We wish all children to have the time to be creative and feel the joy making and flying kites.

Each month we auction a doll for a different cause. 80% of the final sale price of this auction will be donated to Global March Against Child Labour. Global March work to end child labour, exploitation, bonded labour and child trafficking. They work with nations all over the world to ensure that the childhood of every child is for learning and for play.

Happy bidding!

Sonia.

PS. Thanks to my cousins Rose and Harriet for helping with the photo shoot!