Feeling creative? Nothing’s more eco-friendly than transforming junk headed to the landfill into something useful, or using everyday items to create clean, green energy. If you’ve got things like plastic bags, floppy disks, cardboard and old tires laying around, you can use these 15 eco-DIY tutorials and project examples to make things like shoes, furniture, handbags and even greenhouses.
DC Bicycle Pedal Power Generators
(images via: MakeZine)
The folks at Science Shareware figured out how to convert a regular bicycle into a pedal-powered generator. They set up 24 of these green power machines at the 2007 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, to charge cell phones. Plans are available at the Science Shareware website.
Magazine Coffee Table – No Cutting, No Glue
(images via: Yanko Design)
You wouldn’t think six copies of a magazine would be enough to create a stable, strong 3-D piece of furniture, but this design by Vered Zaykovsky proves that it’s possible. The pages of six copies of Domus magazine were intricately woven together, and when a metal base and glass top were added, they became an incredibly creative and eye-catching table. No cutting or glue was involved, so it can be disassembled at any time.
Plastic Bottle Greenhouse
(images via: CleanTechnica)
Got a lot of plastic bottles laying around? You could transform them into a greenhouse with a $5 set of electronic instructions from Blue Rock Station. Aside from over 1,000 2-liter plastic bottles, you’ll need straw bale, 2 55-gallon rain barrels and lots of used tires for the rammed-earth foundation. The instruction booklet covers details like site prep, drainage and insulation.
Planner Made from Trash
(images via: Green Upgrader)
If you still feel the need to have a paper planner, this tutorial will help you make one with stuff you already have laying around instead of buying one new. It uses scrap paper from the recycling bin, a USPS box, a Tyvek envelope and some twine to create a weekly planner. Super simple, and very practical.
A Shipping Envelope from a Shopping Bag
(images via: Team EcoEtsy)
No matter how hard you try to remember your reusable bags every time you go to the store, sometimes, you’ll end up with a paper or plastic bag anyway. Turn it into a sturdy, nice-looking shipping envelope with a sewing machine, some scissors and this easy tutorial by Team EcoEtsy.
Hamster-Powered Cell Phone Charger
(image via: Ananova)
16-year-old Peter Ash of Somerset, England invented a hamster-powered cell phone charger for a school science project. For this incredibly innovative DIY project, Ash attached a generator to his hamster’s wheel and connected it to his phone charger. “I thought the wheel could be made to do something useful so I connected a system of gears and a turbine,” he said. “Every two minutes Elvis spends on his wheel gives me about thirty minutes talk time on my phone.” For all that effort – and the recognition he’s gotten on the internet – Ash received a C for the project.
Recycled Cake Pan Centipede
(images via: nemomatic)
What to do with a bunch of old bundt cake pans, bicycle brake levers and vacuum parts? Why, make a centipede sculpture, of course. Nemo Gould creates works of art made entirely from found materials, painstakingly welding materials together and sanding out the seams. This sculpture is backlit with six green cold cathode tubes, along with some LEDs in the eyes and mouth.
Plastic Bag Pom-Pom Gift Topper
(images via: Creature Comforts)
Eco-friendly gift wrap doesn’t have to be ugly or boring, as evidenced by these fun DIY instructions for creating a ‘pom pom’ gift topper out of plastic bags. It’s amazing how something so common can be transformed into something beautiful, with a few snips of scissors and some knots.
(images via: Dangerously Fun)
All you need to make this cardboard stool is some glue, sheets of cardboard, a compass, a box cutter and a straight edge. The result is surprisingly sturdy, and has been tested by people weighing up to 200lbs. Jus don’t tilt it or lean on it, or all your hard work will be for naught when the thing collapses.
Floppy Disk Bag
(images via: Instructables)
If you’ve still got a box full of floppy disks sitting in your closet because you’re not sure what to do with them and don’t want to throw them away, perhaps you could turn them into a bag like this one. You could even take it a step further and use cables as a strap.
Beer-Bottle Solar Water Heater
(images via: Ananova)
Ma Yanjun, a farmer in the Shanxi province of China, wanted to find a low-tech, low-cost way to heat water for his mother’s showers. 66 beer bottles attached to a board on the roof of his home turned out to be enough to provide hot water for all three members of his family every day. The bottles are connected, and sunlight heats the water as it slowly passes through them before flowing into the bathroom.
Blown Tire Flip Flops
(image via: Instructables)
There are way too many tires littering the earth, both inside and outside landfills. People are getting really creative with ways to reuse this ubiquitous waste material, including turning scrap tires into shoes. This tutorial also uses scrap carpet from a dumpster, old plastic shopping bags and some glue. They may not win any fashion accolades, but they’re non-slip, eco-friendly and practically free.
Tetrapak Coin Purse
(image via: Esprit Cabane)
There’s been some controversy lately over the eco-friendliness of Tetra Pak containers, given that facilities that recycle them are few and far between. Instead of tossing that soup box, wine box or other Tetra Pak container into the trash or the recycling bin, turn it into a coin purse, wallet or card holder. It folds up into surprisingly convenient little pockets, and a little Velcro makes the perfect closure.
Plastic Bag Crochet
(image via: Cristen Rene)
If you’re hoarding a big collection of plastic bags and aren’t sure what to do with them, Cristen Andrews can show you how to transform them into ‘plastic yarn’ for use in crochet projects like the ones she’s modeling in the video. Hats, backpacks, drink cozies, purses, bracelets – there are all kinds of things that can be made from the very same bags that once littered your community.
Washing Machine Drum Ottoman
(image via: Esprit Cabane)
When your washing machine gives up the ghost and trying to repair it just isn’t practical, don’t toss it – use the drum to make a modern, industrial-looking ottoman. Eyelets around the rim make it easy to add wheels and a lid for the top, and once topped with a cushion, it’s as comfy as any store-bought ottoman. It can also be used for storage, as a toy chest in a child’s room or for blankets in the living room.