Right now, everyone is at home, which means it’s primetime for overdue DIY and home improvement projects! While you may not be able to make daily trips to the hardware store to pick up loads of lumber to finally build that treehouse you’ve always dreamed of, there are plenty of things to do that don’t require any shopping trips.
If you’re anything like us, you have lots of miscellaneous bits and bobs lying around the house that you would love to find a use for, but just haven’t gotten around to. Now, while you practice social distancing, it is the perfect time for you to pick up those projects and be productive in your own domain!
At Wowe Lifestyle, we are always encouraging our customers and community to consider the environment in their day to day lives. While lots of people love the idea of creating a more environmentally conscious home and living environment, misperceptions regarding how difficult these projects can be is often a roadblock. In reality, there are lots of easy ways to make your home a little greener using resources you already have!
We have assembled a list of 9 super easy eco-friendly DIY projects that you can do at home right now without going to the store or ever leaving home. While you might not have the supplies for all of these projects, chances are good that you’ll have the necessary items for at least a few of these fun and useful projects.
1. Make Reusable Cloth Napkins
Spills happen, often when we are wearing our favorite white shirts or luxurious fuzzy robes. The best immediate-solution for a spill or a stray crumb is a napkin, and for many people, this means grabbing a single-use paper napkin to handle the job. While paper napkins are readily available, making them a convenient choice, they aren’t the most economic or eco-friendly option out there.
Besides their wasteful nature, paper napkins also eventually run out, requiring you to go to the store to stock back up. If you find yourself out of paper napkins while settled in for a long stretch at home, congratulations: you’re in the perfect spot to make your own single-use paper napkin alternatives!
Cloth napkins are a far more environmentally friendly alternative to single-use paper napkins and have the additional bonus of being more cost-effective and never in low supply. Home-made cloth napkins are an excellent way to re-use cloth scraps, old clothes, old linens and bedding, and other cloth household materials that may be destined for the landfill. Examples of items you might use for napkin fabric include:
- Cotton button-up shirts and dress shirts
- Cotton linens (sheets, flat sheets, pillowcases, duvet covers, etc.)
- Thin cotton curtains
- Linen curtains
- Linen pants, tops, tunics, etc.
Making your own napkins is super easy, and though this awesome DIY cloth napkin pattern includes instructions for a sewing machine, even someone with basic hand-sewing experience could easily create these useful cloth napkins by hand.
2. Make Your Own Eco-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaner
Household cleaners are in relatively short supply these days, with new shipments being snatched up as soon as they hit the shelves. If you don’t feel like braving the crowds to get a bottle of all-purpose cleaner (or other cleaning supplies, for that matter), it is relatively easy to create your own with a few items you likely have in ample supply at home.
Besides being a readily available product in a time when getting your hands on cleaning supplies can be a challenge, this all-purpose cleaner has the added bonus of being non-toxic, free from harsh chemicals, and fine to use in a home with pets, children, or people with skin and respiratory sensitivities.
To make your DIY cleaner extra green, rinse an empty spray bottle and re-use for your own cleaner. Be sure to re-label the bottle once you are done so you remember what is in it. Once prepped, add the following ingredients to your spray bottle, shake before use, and use in the bathroom, on windows, on kitchen counters, coffee tables, and more.
DIY Eco-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe:
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 cups of water
Psst...we have more recipes for eco-friendly cleaning products in our Going Green Tips!
3. Build A Compost Bin
Adding compost to a garden is one of the easiest ways to improve the health, structure, and microbial population of your soil. Healthy, nutrient-rich soil is one of the keys to growing beautiful and healthy plants in your garden, regardless of whether you are planting flowers or vegetable patches.
While compost is relatively easy to come by in the store, it is just as easy to make at home, and making it at home can help you ensure you are getting top-quality compost with only the best ingredients. Once built, you can use your compost bin to dispose of your food scraps and yard trimmings. Toss everything from eggshells and banana peels to grass clippings and weeds into your compost, layer with dirt, and mix regularly to create a beautifully nutritious treat for your garden. Trying to grow your own organic veggies? Make your compost organic by skipping the yard trimmings and only adding organic produce and food scraps to your bin.
If you only have a small amount of space for your compost pile, try this easy guide to creating a small compost bin using an old plastic tub. If you have extra space and some tools calling your name, you can try making this wood pallet compost bin using spare wood you find around your home. A quick Google will find you plenty of other patterns for simple compost bins you can make with supplies you have at home, or you can come up with your own creative solutions using what you have on hand.
4. Sew DIY Face Masks
Though we are living in scary times (if you are reading this after 2020, we are currently experiencing a global outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19), the best thing we can all do is stay calm and do our best to practice social distancing. Now, to promote public health and safety, the CDC has recommended all people wear a face mask when in public for essential business, not just medical professionals or the immunocompromised.
Homemade cloth face masks are a good alternative for use by individuals not at high risk for exposure to COVID-19, i.e. non-healthcare workers. Cloth masks are also a good option as supplementary PPE for healthcare workers and can help to elongate the lifespan and effectiveness of surgical N-95 masks. Though highly relevant due to the fast-spreading COVID-19, facemasks can be a useful aid for preventing the spread and contraction of airborne illnesses of all kinds and can be helpful for individuals that experience seasonal allergies.
Creating your own cloth face masks at home can help you stay safe, and can help you avoid using disposable masks entirely. In this time of crisis, disposable masks are a necessary tool for healthcare workers, and unfortunately in short supply, so cloth masks can help the public stay safe without taking necessary PPE away from people who truly need them. Cloth masks can also help cut down on the number of disposable masks that will inevitably end up in landfills, and may help promote more mindfulness of the value of disposable items.
The CDC has created its own guide to making cloth face masks at home which includes tips for sewing your own masks from fabric scraps, turning t-shirts into masks without any sewing required, and creating bandana face coverings if you are in a pinch.
5. Start Seeds
Many people are feeling the strain of staying home and inside for weeks on end, and despite being necessary for public health and safety, it can be stressful to be in isolation. Having something to care for can be a great motivator to get things done during the day, and can provide something long-term to look forward to. Since Spring has fully arrived and green grass is showing up all across the United States, now is the perfect time to start some seeds and watch those baby plants grow! This activity is a great one to take on if you have lots of time on your hands since your seedlings will want daily attention to ensure they get enough light, water, and love.
If you have some seeds and soil mix sitting around, you have all you need to get started planting your very own herb, flower, vegetable, succulent, or houseplant! Seeds require light, water, and soil, but that doesn’t mean you need a full back yard or a farm to be a gardener. If you live in an apartment, you can easily start seeds on a window sill (ideally South-facing) and grow your own indoor garden.
Don’t have any seed starting trays or flower pots on hand? Here are a few items you can repurpose as seed starter pods:
- Egg cartons
- Coffee pods
- Baby food jars
- Tin cans
6. Water Propagate Some Plants
Water propagation is a super-easy way to propagate plant cuttings without any special tools, equipment, hormones, or minerals, and like planting seeds, it is a great activity for when you have a lot of time on your hands. This is also an excellent activity to do if any of your friends or family have expressed an interest in any of your greenery since propagation essentially allows you to clone your plants.
According to Kier Holmes of Gardenista, this is the best way to propagate a cutting using the Water Propagation method: “Place a cutting in a jar of cool water and wait until white roots start presenting themselves. When the roots get to be about a half-inch long, remove from the water and plant in potting soil. If you wait too long, the roots will not acclimate to soil because they will have come to believe they are water plants.”
If you are interested in other methods of propagation, check out Kier’s full article on how to propagate houseplants for detailed descriptions of everything you need to know.
7. Repurpose Paper Bags as Shipping Envelopes
Being stuck inside might have you feeling inspired to send something through the good old fashioned mail system since it seems to be the safest way to physically reach someone at the moment. Besides being an ideal option during social distancing, sending and receiving mail can also be a fun and enjoyable process, since who doesn’t love getting a surprise gift or letter in the mail?
Though some of you may be prepared for anything and already stocked up on all your envelopes and mailing containers, most of us can barely find a stamp that hasn’t dried up already. If you fall in the latter category, this hack is for you, and for anyone interested in repurposing old paper bags to live a second life.
Brown paper grocery bags are sturdy and heavy-duty enough to be used as shipping envelopes and can make quite the impression on whoever receives your package. Follow this pattern for DIY brown-bag shipping envelopes from The Gunny Sack to create rustic recycled shipping envelopes with a fun colorful thread edge!
8. Create Whimsical Tin Can Lanterns
Tin cans are one of those annoying recyclable items that seem to pile up in your home before they ever make it out to the curb. If you have an excess of tin cans on your hands and are looking for a good social distancing art project to add a touch of whimsy to your home, then this DIY is the perfect one for you.
To complete this project, all you’ll need is a tin can, a hammer, and a long nail. Gently tap holes through the tin can using the hammer and nail to create a pattern or a random smattering of dots. Once finished, drop a tea light inside the tin can, turn out the lights, and enjoy the glow of the candle coming through the pattern you’ve made. As long as you use thin tin cans and long, sturdy nails, this project is a great one to include the kids on, and these whimsical lanterns are a fun way to make bedtime a little more magical.
9. Give a Toothbrush to Someone In Need
Since supplies are in low supply, and families and individuals around the globe are experiencing economic, social, and medical hardship, it is more important than ever before to be generous and help one another. If you or someone you know is in need of a toothbrush, Wowe is committing to meeting this need. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we will be providing toothbrushes to anyone who needs one completely free, no questions asked.Wowe Lifestyle makes green living accessible to everyone. Learn how to live environmentally for your health and for the health of the planet by checking out our blog on Better Living, wash your hands, and be sure to consider the health and safety of your neighbors.