10 Repurpose crafts for kids


rubber-bands-1158199_640Teaching and promoting Zero Waste with children is not just about recycling, repurpose and repair skill teaching has many benefits for child and the environment. Learning to fix things or repurpose for another use teaches children to problem solve and to use their imaginations. Repair and repurpose can teach that discarded materials are resources that create opportunities. Self-esteem and self-sufficiency as well as respect for tools are also benefits of children doing repair and repurpose projects.

This week we share 10 craft ideas that repurpose household items that may have otherwise ended up in garbage.


 1. Cars: Make a rubber band car with repurposed compact discs, Styrofoam pieces and cardboard.  :http://pbskids.org/designsquad/build/rubber-band-car/

  2. Slingshot: Fire off some marshmallows with this indoor slingshot made with elastic bands


3. Sailboats: Build mini sail boats with corks. ( these use those elastic bands from produce too)


4. Stamps: Use corks or bottle caps to make stamps http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-stampers/

 5. Beads: Make string wrapped beads for pieces of plastic straw http://www.momsandcrafters.com/diy-string-wrapped-beads/

6. Ninja figurines: use pipe cleaners and straws to make these bendable figurines .


7. Ring toss game: Use clothes pins and canning jar rings to make a ring toss. http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2010/04/how-to-make-a-ring-toss-throwing-game-crafts-idea-for-kids/

8. Finger puppets : Use old rubber gloves to make finger puppets.


9. Marble Roller Coaster: Make a roller coaster  from pipe insulation.


10. Extending Grabber: Use Popsicle sticks to make this extending grabber


Zero Waste Shopping

Refil Cleaning and Shampoo Liquids

Stores catering to shoppers wanting to create Zero Waste lifestyles continue to spring up across Canada. We thought we would list some of the shopping choices across Canada.

Bulk Barn

Bulk Barn a Canadian chain of retail stores across Canada offering bulk foods now gives customers the option of bringing their own containers. With more than 250 outlets, stores can be found from Dartmouth Nova Scotia to Grand Prairie Alberta to Courtenay British Columbia. The Bulk Barn website has a handy store locator that helps find the locations across Canada. With over 4000 products, Bulk Barns have a good selection of beans, grains and cereals, nuts and dried fruits. They also offer bulk bins of products that in other stores can come with lots of packaging that may not be recyclable. Instead of buying packaged cookies, tea or coffee, candy or chips these products are also available in the bulk bins. Shoppers can also find bulk cleaning supplies and some dry pet foods.

Salt Spring Island

Green is a low impact Zero Waste grocery store on Salt Spring Island. As Canada’s first Zero Waste grocery  both bulk foods and fresh foods are offered. Many of the fresh vegetables and fruits and bread are local. As a grocery store Green also carries products like dairy and household products with either minimal or recyclable packaging. The grocery has an option for customers to bring their own containers and bags.


 The Soap Dispensary is the first refill store in Vancouver dedicated to soaps, cleaning products and personal care products. Many of the products offered are either locally made or from local suppliers. Customers can bring their own containers or bags to fill. The Soap Dispensary offers products like deodorant and tooth paste in refillable options. As well as refillables, shoppers may purchase non-plastic utensils, containers and straws as well as reusable feminine hygiene products. The store also offers workshops on topics like soap making.

The Zero Waste Market currently is a pop-up market that often takes place at Patagonia. The Zero Waste market uses social media to promote the dates of their regular events. The market allows shoppers to bring their own containers and they also have sanitized containers available for filling. Products include organic bread, bulk dry goods and cleaning products. The Zero Waste Market has plans to have their own permanent location where products will be 100% package-free.

Roberts Creek

Eco-Freako located in Roberts Creek BC started 20 years ago making reusable organic cotton hankerchiefs. They now offer a variety of products including reusable coffee filters, salves, soaps and bedding. Eco-Freako also offers online sales.


Nu Grocery hasn’t opened yet but it is expected to open this summer. Nu Grocery’s goal is to offer almost every daily grocery need except meat or fish. Customers will be able to bring their own containers and bags to fill.


Épicerie Loco is a store with almost no packaging. Shopper can bring their own containers and bags to fill. The organic, environmentally- friendly and local options include baked products, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat substitutes, dry bulk foods, kombucha and beer.

Méga Vrac is the largest Zero waste store in Montreal. The store offers coffee, vinegars, oils, honey, dried fruits,and beans in their selection of bulk foods. Customers may use their own bags and containers to fill. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also available.


Unpacked Halifax will be opening as a pop-up store in May 2017. They will be offering package-free food, home and body products. Social media will be used to promote pop-up dates and locations.

This is definitely not a complete list of Zero Waste shopping opportunities across Canada, Our apologies to those we did not include. Zero Waste Canada will continue to write about and showcase the businesses and individuals that are helping Canadians lead a Zero Waste life. If you have a Zero Waste store you would like us to include, we would love to hear from you.

Washer Pollution : Microfibers

washing-machine-943363_640Trillions of pieces of tiny fibers are flowing into our oceans every time we use our washing machines. Synthetic fabrics release microscopic threads of plastic.  Our clothing is breaking down in the wash releasing this plastic micro fiber that drains out with the wash water. Just one fleece jacket can shed over 81,000 fibres per wash. University of California found that older fleece can shed twice as much as newer fleece. This minute fibers travel from our homes to our local waste water plants where up to 40% are not captured or filtered out, so instead they make their way to our oceans.

According to a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that microfibers pollution has significantly more that previously calculated. It is estimated that 15% to 31% of marine plastic pollution could be from tiny particles released by household and industrial products, rather than larger plastic items that degrade once they reach the sea. The IUCN  calculates that 35% of this microplastic pollution comes from washing synthetic textiles. Europe and Central Asia alone dump the equivalent of 54 plastic bags worth of microplastics per person per week into the oceans.

Mark Allen, a research associate at the University of New South Wales, in a 2011 study found   microfibers mad up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world.

Other studies conclude micro fibers can be up to 95% of microplastics found and sampled in ocean and fresh water ways.

One problem is that use of synthetic textiles is drastically increasing.

Another problem is that plastic fibers have the potential to poison the food chain. While fibers are small, they are big enough for persistent organic pollutants (DDT, PCBs) to stick to them. One in 3 shellfish; 1 in 4 fin fish and 67% of all species tested from fish markets in California had microfiber or microplastic in them; a direct link to the human food chain (Rochman, 2015).

We need to radically rethink the way we manufacture and use what we wear but until we find solutions to eliminate this source of pollution we can be more mindful of what we buy and how often we wash.

Grow Your Own Zero Waste Solutions

lavender-167794_640Our gardens can help us create Zero Waste Solutions for our households. Growing our own fruit and vegetables can reduce packaging and give our families healthy food choices, but our gardens can grow even more options to help us create Zero Waste households.

This week, Zero Waste Canada gives some planting ideas for growing in your garden or plant pots.

lufa vine
luffa vine
  • Grow your own (loofah) luffa:  Reduce plastic of microfiber usage by growing your own luffa.  Loofah sponges as often seen in the bathroom as a means of exfoliating skin are neither sea sponge nor plastic product; loofah  sponges come from the luffa plant which is an annual similar to a cucumber. The loofah sponge is actually a fibrous seed pod from the luffa plant.  Loofah/luffa sponges can be used both in the bathroom and in the kitchen for scrubbing. You can also eliminate microplastics by making your own loofah soap. By growing luffa you can reduce plastic sponges that need disposal, and you have a product that can be composted at the end of life plus the young smaller gourds are also edible.
  • Grow your own band-aid :  Instead of plastic band-aids, Wooly Lamb’s Ear, botanical name Stachys byzantina, has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Not only do the soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly, they also contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these factors make this plant a really great alternative to store-bought bandages. Wooly Lamb’s Ear Lamb’s Ears is a very hardy and strong-growing perennial, with thick white-wooly foliage and pink-purple flower spikes, valued as a dense, low growing, spreading bedding plant in the landscape.
  • Grow your own air freshener : Reduce chemical sprays by growing lavender. Lavender is an easy to grow perennial. Lavender has medicinal uses, culinary uses and producing a pleasant calming scent. Dried flower buds can be used scent pillows or linen in drawers. Essential oil can be made to be used for aromatheraphy, relieving headaches or making bath products. It is possible to make simple nature air fresheners sprays by using lavender essential oil instead of using toxic chemicals like acetaldehyde .
  • Grow your own tea : Growing herbs in our garden or in pots is a wonderful inexpensive way to produce your own herbal tea blends. Leaves, buds and petals of a number of different plants can be trimmed and dried or mixed together with other herbs for tea blends that last for months. When it comes to herbs, a single plant can produce quite a bit of usable parts, but you may want to plant more around your garden for aesthetic purposes. And what you don’t use fresh can easily be dried (in a dehydrator or hung) and stored for later use. Homemade teas make a most wonderful gift, too! Tea can be stored in a mason jar.
  • Grow your own spices: Growing herbs in a pot on a windowsill or in the garden gives the option for both fresh and dried seasonings.

Growing your own reduces waste, uses less plastic and means having less toxins, and is more fun.



Boycotts – message in a wallet

Boycotts have a long history of being a catalyst for social change.  Often as consumers, we forget that we have power to create change. The purchasing choices we make or avoid can encourage manufacturers and retailers to rethink design, packaging, toxicity, safety and environmental impact of products.

Retailers and manufacturers need to sell products. When we buy a product, we essentially are saying “yes’ to more of the product being manufactured. What if you don’t like what the company is doing? What if you are concerned about over-packaged products or that the product is not built to last (planned obsolescence) or it cannot be repaired. What actions can you do besides complaining to friends and family? What can you do that conveys your concerns to companies and create pressure for change?

Organized boycotts of products or companies can be the message that you and others send with your wallets to highlight your concerns.

Organizations like Greenpeace and PETA have successfully organized boycotts that have lead to changes. For years PETA and other animal rights organizations were highly concerned for the well-being of orcas used at Sea World. Under pressure from activists and declining sales, Sea World Entertainment Inc. announced that it will be ending its theatrical orca shows and the orca breeding program. In 2009, Kimberley- Clarke ( Kleenex, Cottonelle) released an environmental fibre policy that governs how it will conserve forests and support sustainable forestry and use more recycled fibre as a result of public pressure from five years of public campaigns by Greenpeace.

Boycotts can rapidly grow with social media interactions. Grab Your Wallet is a grassroots campaign directed at the Ivanka Trump brand, products and the stores carrying the products. #baycott is part of the Grab Your Wallet campaign targeted to Hudson Bay Company to drop Ivanka Trump products. The goal of the #grabyourwallet boycott is to “movitate companies to stop doing business with the Trump family.” When companies stop doing business with the Trumps consumers promise to return to company.

Boycotts are often used with other communication campaigns like letter writing campaigns or media protests.

Boycotts are marketplace democracy in action.

Any group or individual can call a boycott. Generally boycotts have greater success when there are a greater number of participants.

Ethical Consumer has a great guide on how to set up a boycott .

Looking over the successful campaigns like Grab Your Wallet or campaigns by PETA emphasizes the need for a clear goal and a target. For instance the goal may be to convince a supermarket to stop selling X Brand of bananas in shrink wrap.

Boycotts can work. Is it time to use them to drive for Zero Waste changes?

What product or company would be on your list to target?

Zero Waste Canada would like to hear your thoughts and ideas.

It is time we used our power as consumers wisely. We can send a message with our wallets.credit-squeeze-522549_640