Category Archives: Home

Emergency Kit Fashioned From Recyclables

When a natural disaster strikes we all wish we had prepared ahead. One of the things that had stopped me from getting supplies together is that I felt that if the supplies weren’t used they would end up going to waste. But every time I saw news reels of an earthquake or a tornado I would worry about the fact that I wasn’t the least bit prepared.

So finally, just to stop from nagging my own self to death I sat down and made a list of the items I would need. Then I took that list and thought through ways that I could use recycled items to make up my emergency kit. I took the same list and thought through ways that I could easily rotate items that would spoil. Anyway, here’s what I came up with.

 

Clothing

Extra sets of comfortable clothing. Pack clothing that you like but is no longer in style. Tip: polypropylene, wool, or fleece will keep you warmest if you get wet.

Foot Warmer: for each member of the family two plastic produce bags and two rubber bands which will fit snugly around the legs of each person. Layer one sock, a plastic bag, then another larger sock over the plastic bag will keep feet warm. To test this out, one day while vacationing in a the mountains I wore the plastic bag between socks on one foot and just the two socks on the other foot. It definitely made a difference!

Comfort

Plastic sheets will serve you well in a disaster. They can function as a ground cloth to keep the cold and wet from seeping in, to temporarily repair a damaged window, replace a missing door or as a rain poncho. Paint tarps work fine here as long as they are heavy duty ones. Garbage bags work better as rain ponchos as the paint tarps will be too large and too stiff.

Communication

Don’t throw out your old land line phone. This type of phone will work with no electricity as long as the phone line is operable.

That old junk radio that you replaced with a full fledged entertainment center can be packed away in your emergency kit with a few sets of batteries. Write the battery expiration date on a piece of tape applied to the outside of the radio.

First Aid Kit

Fill a container with mini band-aids, aspirin, antacid, motion sickness pills, individually wrapped antiseptic wipes, shoe lace (for tourniquet) … whatever emergency supplies you may need for your particular environment. Don’t forget to include things like sanitary napkins, which can also be used as a dressing for large cuts. Be sure to seal so that it is watertight.

Choices for containers:

  • empty deodorant casing – not large enough for your entire first aid kit but can hold small items within the kit
  • large can

Food

You can store non-perishable food in your pantry. That way it will be rotated as you use it. For someone like me who prefers fresh food I stock up on canned items I might need in an emergency and then every now and then I use the canned goods to make up a few batches of soup which I take around to my neighbors. I restock my pantry and then I’m set for the next possible emergency. This periodic cleaning out of my pantry also serves to make me grateful for the fact that I’m using this food to serve my neighbors rather than to survive a disaster.

You’ll also need something to cook on. If you have an alcohol fondue pot or a marine stove you’re all set. If you don’t you could always purchase one of these or make a ??? cooking apparatus suitable for indoor cooking.

Infants

Keep a large stash of plastic grocery bags or produce bags for putting dirty diapers in before placing in your trash can.

Light

Candles provide good light. While taper candles provide the best light with the least amount of fuss they can be easy to tip over, depending on what type of candleholder you have and if you have a level surface to place it on. Pillar candles are more difficult to tip over but have to be fussed with as the flame burns below the surface, although it’s not that difficult or time consuming to gently turn the outer portion of the candle to the outside so that the flame won’t be lost behind it. Tip: do this after the candle has been burning for awhile so that the candle is soft.

I chafe at the idea of purchasing good candles for an emergency that may never happen, so I use the rejects from my candle making experiments. If this doesn’t give you enough candles just use all the candles made from melting down your candle stubs.

Matches gleaned from bars and restaurants and dipped in melted wax to make them waterproof should be all you need to keep your candles and cooking apparatus lit.

Medications

Ask your doctor to prescribe a double dose of all your meds. Keep the second set in a watertight container such as a large coffee sealed with waterproof tape. Tip: duct tape dissolves into a gummy mess when wet. Use a Sharpie pen to write the date of the med with the closest expiration date on the outside of the can.

Pets

Stash a large supply of plastic grocery bags or produce bags to use as a pooper scooper when walking the dog.

Warmth

Keep old blankets, bedspreads and curtains in your emergency kit. These can be used as a ground cloth and to wrap yourself in for warmth.

If you have an abundant source of wood so much the better but if not stockpile some NEWSPAPER/LOGS. The best ones to have in a disaster situation are WET LOGS dipped several times in wax to make them water-resistant. You will need a place to burn the logs in case you don’t have access to a working fireplace so store the logs in a large metal container such as a trash can.

Waste Disposal

Keep a large stash of plastic grocery bags and produce bags to secure wet, stinky or very perishable waste.

Store your emergency supplies in one or more large trash cans which once the supplies are removed can be used for waste.

Water

In case of a natural disaster you’ll need a gallon of water per day per person. Fill plastic soda bottles with clean water and store in several places around your home so that if an area becomes inaccessible you’ll hopefully have access to one or more areas.

Freeze a few of these bottles so that if the power goes off, you can transfer the frozen water to a cooler to keep your perishables from spoiling. When they eventually melt, you’ll have some cool drinking water. As an added benefit by filling empty space in your freezer you’ll save on the cost to run the freezer.

Embroidery Floss Saves

Do you have hanks of embroidery thread left over from projects completed or abandoned long ago? Well dust them off and take a look around your house to access new ways you can use them.

 

Gift Wrap

Use several strands of embroidery thread to wrap small gifts & then tie into a generous bow on top.

Braid embroidery floss into long strands to use as ribbons to wrap gifts.

Homemade tassels using embroidery floss can be used in place of a bow on a gift.

 

Fashion

Sewing Projects

Take a look through your stash of embroidery thread next time you need the perfect color of thread for a hand-sewn project or mending session.

Braid one or more colors of embroidery floss together to use as ties, trim, belt loops, button loops …

 

Shoelaces

Twist or braid together six strands of embroidery thread. Dip the ends in glue to stiffen them & when the glue dries you have a new set of shoelaces.

 

Hair

Braid embroidery floss into a long strand, then braid that strand into your hair, use it as a hairband or wrap around a ponytail.

 

 

Home Decor

Braid one or more colors of embroidery floss to use as curtain tie-backs, to trim upholstered furniture, lampshades or pillows …

Take a plain basket from ordinary to extraordinary by weaving four or more strands of embroidery thread through the baskets holes with a large eyed darning needle.

Homemade tassels using embroidery floss added to curtain tie-backs and other home decor projects.

Bubble Wrap & The Odd Window

Most of our IA readers know not to throw out bubble wrap. You all faithfully stash it and use it to package items you are shipping or moving, but how about thinking outside of the box (pun intended) and using your bubble wrap to:

Insulate Windows – spray windows with water and press bubble wrap directly onto the glass. The water will hold the bubble wrap tight against the glass for weeks and is easily removed when the weather turns warm.

Plant Protection – use bubble wrap to loosely tent over plants to protect from light frost.

Protect Your China – cut into squares and use in between plates and bowls when stacking in your cupboards. You can also use this technique to protect pots and pans stored inside each other.

Stadium Seating – tape a square or two to the bottom of your stadium cushion for an extra layer of warmth and cushioning.

Decorative Paint Treatment – use a brush to dab or brush on one or more colors directly onto a 5 inches to 12 inch square of bubble wrap. Press the painted side of the bubble wrap onto the surface you want to paint. Lift the bubble wrap away from the wall a bit and turn and press again. Continue turning and pressing until you get the effect you want. This is similar to sponge painting but has more depth and can be used to create effects such as suede or marble.

Shower Curtain – tape sheets of bubble wrap together with clear shipping tape or colored duct tape for a fun shower curtain.

Have Fun & Destress - go ahead, pop it! You know you want to.

 

 

Restyled Folding Chairs

Left: battered old chair Right: old chair is painted & seat is recovered

Thank you to one of our Irish Attic readers, Sam Marquit – independent contractor and green building enthusiast – for submitting the article below.


Recycling is an important part of conservation efforts and environmentally friendly lifestyles. However, it has a rarely used cousin that is even more helpful. This method is upcycling. It is the act of taking unwanted materials and turning it into something new. The materials used in upcycling are of less cost than new materials, making upcycling cost effective. As a result, it is has continued to rise in popularity, especially in the United States.

In 2010-2011, upcycled products on the popular shopping site Etsy increased by nearly 300%, a few months later, it had increased again by nearly 450%. The fact that upcycling seems to be gaining in popularity is great news for the environment. It is something we all can do to decrease the negative impact we have on our surroundings every day. The popularity of this is easy to see. I stumbled upon a really cool idea, “Restyled Folding Chairs”. All you need is spray paint, fabric, drill and screwdriver. Below are the steps:

1. Using a drill (or screw driver) unscrew the cushions from your chairs. (put the screws somewhere you won’t lose them, you’ll have to screw the cushion back in later.
2. In a well-ventilated area (I did it outside) spray paint your chairs and let them dry completely.
3. Cover your old cushion with new fabric and wrap it around onto the backside. Staple or use a strong adhesive to secure the fabric on the back. Tip: an even “greener” option would be to use repurposed fabric rather than new fabric. Maybe a curtain or tablecloth with a hold or stain or a skirt that you no longer want to wear but that would work great on your chair.
4. Screw your cushions back onto your chairs.

 

After: chairs are painted a glossy blue & recovered with recycled fabric.

Even big businesses, such as hotels, can use this concept to decrease their eco footprints. Las Vegas’ The Palazzo Hotel and Resort is a place that takes upcycling to a brilliant level. They have completely overhauled their practices and materials in hopes of achieving sustainability. They convert their trash and waste into energy for the hotel. They also have solar panels that power the various heating units. It’s work like this that earned the hotel the title of “Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.”

The real quality behind The Palazzo Hotel and Resort’s upcycling efforts is its self-sustainability and they are not the only ones turning to these methods to be greener and more environmentally aware. New York City hotels sit in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. If there was any place that could make a big change by upcycling, it is New York. Some hotels there are leading the way into a greener future. The Earthcare program at ink48 Hotels is another example of responsible hospitality.

Regardless of how well self-sustaining upcycling methods work, there are always other ways to help. It is really encouraging to see large organizations and businesses practicing upcycling by turning unwanted materials into something needed. It’s important for more and more businesses to catch on and realize there is value in turning their trash into treasure. The Palazzo in just one example of the many hotels in Las Vegas that are turning trash into treasure. What an impact it would make if all hotels around the world followed suit!


If any Irish Attic readers have a project you would like to submit, please feel free to contact me at info (at) irishattic (dot) net.