May 25, 2011

Synchronicity Project

Image: Jim Linwood

Do you believe in Synchronicity?

Let me come back to that. I need to explain how I got there.

A few days ago my wife told me on May 24th Bob Dylan was turning 70. "Fantastic", I thought.
Not really for the fact that the man was still with us, but for the fact that here's something topical I could write about?

Until I looked up Bob Dylan & Recycling.

This is all I came up with.Which seems like a waste of a  perfectly good record and not the "perfect gift for any music lover" or so claims Broken Record. I think the perfect gift for any music lover is, well.... music!

Image: Broken Record

And so I had hit a metaphorical brick wall.
I had gone the wrong way down a one-way information superhighway.
An ethernet cul-de-sac if you like.

Until fate stepped through the front door in the shape of my wife, home from work.

Freeing me up from paternal babysitting duties I went for a drive to have a think. Driving about I noticed a bunch of wooden pallettes set to be thrown out. My mind raced back to this post. An idea for making chairs from scrap wood and easily adapted for pallets.

Image: sixty one A

Thankfully I had an old towel in the boot and I used that to wipe down the grubby and dusty palette before putting it in my car. The towel was one of those huge beach towels with a palm tree and glowing sunset and I've always thought that was a bad design with regard to Irish people and sunbathing. As a nation, when abroad, we normally stay in the sun so long it's very probable that we will get sunstroke and then run the risk of mistaking an actual palm tree for our lovely soft beach towel. Ultimately knocking ourselves out by repeatedly trying to lie down against said palm tree all the while wondering why the printed glowing sun is rapidly disappearing off our once soft but now mysteriously hard bark-like towel.

But I digress. Stay with me now. This is where the synchronicity comes in.

I got to thinking about all the different types of towels we have.
The bath towel, a tea towel, a face towel and hand towel, the beach towel, a foot towel for getting out of the shower, guest towels that only come out on special occasions and on and on and on.....

So there it is I thought. Finally an idea. Recycle old towels. Must be something on the internet about that.

And guess what folks. Believe it or not. Today. May 25th is Towel Day.
Hows that for synchronicity?

Image: Kreg.steppe

Towel Day is a celebration of Douglas Adams and as a tribute fans of the man and his work carry a towel with them at all times during this day.

Now, if necessity is the Mother of Invention then surely Synchronicity is the Father of Digression.

If none of this is very important to you then, ok.
If all you want is some tips to recycle some old towels then jump over to TipNut where there is over 20 ideas like this one here.

Spa Slippers

Image: Craftynest

If you are looking for something else I shall just leave you with a quote from Douglas Adams himself and I think it sums up this post.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be"

May 20, 2011

Pinhole Camera Project

Ever since my post last week showing you how to make a box  from a recycled cereal packet I've been trying to come up with more ideas to use up all that wasted cardboard that ends up in my bin.

My wife doesn't know it yet and undoubtedly she will now, but I have been squirreling away pieces of cardboard all week long and I think I've found a really good use for some of it.

Here's a fun idea to make a cardboard pinhole camera.

A pin hole camera is a very simple camera without a lens. Effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side.

It may look difficult to make but a diagram can be found here courtesy of Francesco Capponi.

Print out the diagram on some paper and then glue the page to some of your collected cardboard.
Instructions to assemble it come in a step by step pictorial below. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

Here's a link to the forum on flickr where you can share pictures and get advice.

May 14, 2011

Box Making Project

Image: Patent Pending Projects

A few years ago when the plastic bag levy came in people where up in arms about being charged 15 cent to put their shopping in a carrier bag. As a result, in the following months, there was an awful lot of "lazyman load" related accidents. When we had to start paying for bags we realised how wasteful we were. We would buy our shopping. Bring it home. Put it away and the bag would end up in the bin.

The more environmentally friendly of us would have stored these bags in a larger plastic bag that was most likely kept under the sink. And lets face it, in the past when we saw someone pull a crumpled up plastic shopping bag out of their back pocket or out of a handbag, we all thought the same thing. "What a cheapskate!" Now we think, "Damn it. I forgot the bag."

Since then a lot of shops provide brown paper bags as a substitute for plastic as there's no price levy. For a while there it felt like we were all living in America with our brown paper bags with lettuce and celery sticks popping out the top, but when we returned home, as before, the shopping would be put away and the bag ended up, know where.

After all, we didn't have to pay for it so why keep it?

We seem to treat 99% of the packaging of our food in the same way. We don't see that we are paying for the packaging. Just the product. Although some of us are clued in to the whole "I'm buying the no name brand of (fill in product here ......  ) as it's the same company. It's just the packaging that's cheaper".

One well known coffee brand is trying to cash in on this idea with the following ad.
A range of people are seen trying to carry their coffee granules loose with them and are unsuccessfully. The voiceover explains that (this brand) in trying to use less packaging. They tried losing 100% of the packing but it didn't work so they've settled for 97% less packing in their new Eco refill packs.

What they don't tell you is that this new Eco refill pack is more expensive than their regular pack.
Is this the price for helping the environment?

I think the best way to help the environment is to reuse most of the packaging that we discard.

I decided to reuse some old Cereal boxes I was just about to throw out. At the same time I was thinking about getting some nice boxes to store old photos and logic stepped in and gave me this idea.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

This is so simple. It took about 2 hours to make.
Here's what you need.

1. A couple of empty cereal boxes (or any cardboard packaging - your going to be cutting them up and sellotaping them together so anything will do.)
2. PVA glue (from a local art/craft or office supply shop) and small brush.
3. Scissors
4. Ruler
5. Sellotape/packaging or masking tape
6. Cloth or Material (I've use offcuts from curtains that were too long. You could use anything. Try wrapping paper, colour pages from a magazine, an old T shirt, or how about one of those brown paper bags you picked up at the shops?)
7. (Optional) Name plate. (I picked one up in a DIY shop for 40 cent) and some string.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 1: For the box cut 5 rectangle pieces from Cardboard.
You will need
1 x 9 inches by 6 inches.
2 x 5 inches by 6 inches
2 x 9 inches by 5 inches.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Sellotape pieces as shown in the pictures. Flip cardboard over and tape reverse side also for extra stability.

Step 2: For the lid measure a piece of cardboard at least 1/4 of an inch larger than the base of your box.
Then measure 1 and 1/2 inches around that. This will be the side panels of your lid.
Cut out as is in the picture and tape the sides up with sellotape.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 3: Do the same with your box.
If you have any card left over line the inside of your box and lid to hid all the sellotape.  Secure with PVA glue.
(This is optional and really only for aesthetics)

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 4: Cover the box.
Cut a piece of fabric to cover the box leaving enough spare for a 1/2 inch overlap on each side. Place the base in the middle of the fabric and glue in position with PVA glue.
(Tip - paint the entire base with glue otherwise the glue only sticks to certain parts of base and will be clearly visible once dry)
Next glue the longer sides in place first and glue overlap down.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Next glue along the overlap of the front and back panel and fold over to make a neat seam.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

 Step 5: Glue front and back panel to box.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 6: Tidy up the fabric with some glue and fold in. Stick down inside of box.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Repeat process for lid.

Step 7: (Optional) Place the name plate in position on box and mark it's position by puncturing 3 holes through the cardboard and fabric. Cut 3 small pieces of string and knot them all at one end. Line up the name plate again and push the pieces of string through holes. Secure on the other side with another knot or use some tape to hold string in place.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

May 8, 2011

Propaganda Posters Project

Today is V-E Day.

Victory in Europe occurred 66 years ago on this day, May 8th 1945 but if you were to go into your local bookshop you might be forgiven for thinking that it wasn't such a different time.

Scouring the shelves you might find "Digging for Victory: Wartime Gardening with Mr Middleton"  which contains  "pearls of wisdom to a new generation of gardeners who are increasingly interested in growing their own food."

A timely publication in light of the recent surge in allotment owners.

Or how about Sucking Eggs: What your Wartime Granny could teach you about Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol

Full of interesting facts set out in a lighthearted tone, Patricia compares our daily lives with those of our wartime grandparents. There are handy hints sections and it's full of great ideas.

Patricia feels our Parents and Grandparents in contrast to us, were model global citizens. Their carbon footprints barely left an imprint. They wasted almost nothing and what they had no use for they recycled. They dug for victory and grew their own vegetables, as more and more of us are again beginning to do.
Here's a photo of our own little plot at home.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Patricia Nicol goes on to say that our Grandparents did not have a disposable culture like we have.
They made do and mended. They salvaged. As evident in these World War 2 Posters.

Decades before "No Logo" became an international rallying cry, they were pioneering anti-consumerists. They did thrift years before it became a fashion model’s fad. The second-hand shop and the recycling bin were their generation’s invention.

Sometimes lives depended on it.

Some are just plain propaganda poppycock!

These posters were used to inform, educate and inspire the masses to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle during a time of crisis.

Some might say that we are in the midst of different crisis.

Green Patriot Posters are continuing on with these themes and have released a book of 50 detachable, read-to-hang posters on the theme of sustainability by some of the world's most prominent graphic designers and artists.

Check out their website which allows you to create your own posters or vote for your favourite.

As we look back on V-E day and remember the sacrifices that were made for us, maybe we can think about being a bit more clever about our own waste and try and recycle a bit more and hopefully this new batch of posters will become more of a nostalgic item in years to come rather than another reminder of what we should be doing.

The Tomorrow Moves Project

If you live in America and would like to win $5,000 this may be of some interest to you.

Have you got a great idea for protecting the environment for tomorrow?

The Tomorrow Moves Project has been set up by CSX (an American Rail Company) who are looking for ideas to help protect the environment that are practical and workable.

You just might have the next big environmental idea rattling around in your head or maybe you have a new take on an old concept?

All you have to do is jump over to their Facebook page and tell them in 200 words or less what your ideas are.

You can submit photos that support your idea and then all you have to do is get people to vote for you.

The 10 best ideas will go into the final and the best 2 will both receive $5,000.

The closing date is 13th May get your thinking caps on!

May 6, 2011

Calender of the Month Project

                                                                From Flat to Flight

When we were children we were constantly questioned with, "If everyone was to jump off a bridge, would you?"

But now as an adult, to be slightly different, seems to be in breach of social norms and now we are met with, "Hey, everyone is jumping off the bridge, why aren't you?"

This is kind of how I feel about Twitter.

Steve Martin recently Tweeted "Twitter over capacity! Couldn’t Tweet for 30 minutes. Forced to tell doorman that I had Cream of Wheat for breakfast. Not the same."

A clear and reasonable point, don't you think?

Of course I'm not totally hostile towards Twitter. I have been known to read a few funny tweets from time to time and I thank the hardworkingwhoevertheyare people who edit down all those numerous ramblings and present them to us in some sort of Top 10 list that's palatable and quick to read. Perfect for that 4 o'clock slump.

One such tweet came from Tom Hanks.
In an obvious jab at all these movies being shot and/or released in 3D, Hanks has said this about his new Film,
"Thinking to shoot Larry Crowne not in 3D, but 6D. May go all the way to 7- or 8D. Stand by."

Which neatly edges me towards my next point. This whole 3D revival.
I'm going to say it here now and I want to be very clear.
I don't like 3D movies. I will not buy a 3D TV and I'll never wear 3D glasses.

The closest I want to come to 3D are these incredible printable 3D calenders and I can't believe I've only found them now when we are almost half way through the year.

Released free every month by The Curiosity Group, all you need is a pair of scissors, some craft glue and nimble fingers!

Last month was a paper toy record player.

If you would still like it you can download the pdf here.

And what about March's 3D umbrella Calender.

Here's May's 3D Tiki Calender

To complete the set click here for January's Yeti

and here for February's Groundhog Calender.

And if you'd love to have that Elephant in the video at the top of this post The Curiosity Group have been kind enough to supply a pdf for that as well here.

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