Reduce, reuse and craft!

Crafting is one of my favorite pastimes. Not only do I like making things, but I particularly enjoy taking items that I would typically get rid of and making them into something that I can use. It’s a great way to spend your time and good for the environment.

According to the Recycling Coalition of Utah, half of the garbage Americans throw out could be recycled, which is enough to fill a football stadium from top to bottom everyday. This waste amounts to almost 1 million pounds of material per person, per year. That’s a lot of trash! Many items considered “garbage” are still useful but spend the rest of eternity in a landfill, causing 3.3 trillion pounds of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. According to the EPA, landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide and methane, have substantially increased due to human activity and are a major contributor to climate change.  Now that’s something to think about.

On February 20, I had the unique opportunity to host Crafty Coogs at the University of Houston. Crafty Coogs was just one of several events promoting UH’s ongoing participation in the RecycleMania competition. I showed students, faculty, and staff how to upcycle their old items and make them into to something shiny and new! The enthusiasm was amazing! Here are a few neat crafts that you can do in your leisure time.

Bird feeder


This is a great alternative to the traditional bird feeder.


  • Unsalted peanut butter
  • Bird seeds
  • String or twine
  • Scissors
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Paper towel/toilet tissue roll
  • Something to catch the mess (i.e. a plate or newspaper)


  1. Using a utensil, put a generous amount of peanut butter on the paper towel or toilet tissue roll.
  2. Pour bird seed on to your plate or newspaper, then roll the peanut butter-covered roll in the bird seed. Make sure it’s all covered with bird seed.
  3. Next, cut your string or twine long enough to thread it through the paper towel or toilet tissue roll and tie a knot.
  4. Finally, find a tree or bush to place it in and enjoy the company of your new animal friends.

*Warning: Bird seeds are not typically fit for human consumption. You’ll probably get a tummy ache.

Coffee koozie


Photo credit:

If you are a coffee buff like me, then this is the craft item for you!


  • Felt (preferably, felt with some stretch to it)
  • Fabric (we used old shirts)
  • Buttons or other decorations (optional)
  • Fabric glue or a hot glue gun
  • A coffee cup and paper sleeve to measure
  • A pen or marker
  • Scissors


  1. Lay your fabric on a flat surface.
  2. Undo the paper sleeve and lay it flat across your fabric. (Final koozie size may vary depending on cup size)
  3. Using your writing instrument, trace the shape of the paper sleeve on the fabric.
  4. Cut the shape out.
  5. Lay out your felt and follow steps 2-4.
  6. Now lay your fabric cut-out on top of your felt cut-out. Make sure they are properly aligned.
  7. Take your glue gun and glue the edges of the fabric together. Allow about 30 seconds for the glue to dry.
  8. Take your coffee cup and wrap the glued together fabric around it. Make sure that it’s snug enough to stay on but not too tight to take off.
  9. Make a mark on the inside flap where you would like glue together the fabric.
  10. Now glue the fabric together using your glue gun. Allow about 30 seconds for the glue to dry.
  11. (Optional) Take a button and glue it to your area of choice on your koozie.

And bam! You’ve got an ultra-comfy homemade koozie. Drink responsibly.

CD coaster
This was the most popular activity at Crafty Coogs.



  • Gems
  • T-shirt yarn
  • Fabric, or any other decorative element
  • Hot glue gun
  • Old CDs


  1. Take the item(s) that you would like to use for your coaster and glue it on to your CD with a hot glue gun.
  2. If you would like to make a shape or a letter, I suggest using a sharpie to draw out what you would like on the CD, then use that a way to guide your gluing.

During all of your crafting adventures, please remember that hot glue guns produce HOT glue. Be careful not to burn yourself with the glue or the metal tip of the glue gun!

Looking for more crafting goodness? Pinterest is a great way to get great ideas on how to upcycle your stuff. Follow the Office of Sustainability on Pinterest for more ways to turn your trash to treasure.

-Elizabeth Ayoko


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s