What’s great about milk jugs, besides holding cereal’s best friend? Their durable, semi-transparent plastic can be reused to make some fun, useful and decorative crafts. With about 380 million gallons of milk products being sold in the US each month, we are at no shortage of free milk jug material to make this decorative snowflake craft, just in time for the holiday season!
Supplies Milk Jugs (I used 3) X-Acto blade Scissors Snowflake template (I used a cookie cutter) Washable Marker (Optional) Hole punchers Fishing line
Step 1: Use your X-Acto blade to cut into the jug. Cut out just the flat surfaces. At this point you want to make sure your plastic pieces are ultra clean. Clean them with soap and water and dry them thoroughly.
Step 2: Trace your snowflake template, cookie cutter or stencil onto the flat plastic pieces using a washable marker.
Step 3: Cut out your snowflakes. I was able to cut 4 snowflakes per milk jug. To make them a little more interesting, use hole punchers to add detailing to the inside of the snowflake. You can also use your X-Acto for even more creative freedom. Wipe off any remaining marker with a sponge.
Step 4: Add fishing line to hang them. It helps to have a hole punched near the edge of the snowflakes to attach the fishing line.
Step 5: Hang them over your windows. Hang them randomly, in a pattern or have them overlap so you can see the transparency of the plastic.
Another bonus of this craft is sustainability. These snowflakes will last you indefinitely because they’re easily cleaned and stored.
Staying cool is very expensive. According to statistics from the US Department of Energy, cooling represents up to 70% of the summer monthly home energy bill in homes in warmer climates.
It is therefore necessary to seek sustainable ways to reduce your cooling energy consumption in the long term particularly if you are living in an area with warmer climate.
Some of the ways to reduce your cooling energy bill include:
Using a programmable thermostat
If you have a central thermostat that is controlled by a thermostat, you should use a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat enables you to determine the temperature set point on your air conditioner.
Here’s a good list.
With the thermostat, you should set the air conditioner to the highest temperature you are comfortable with during hot days. Giving up a degree or two helps you lower your bill considerably in the long term.
Timer thermostats also come in handy as they enable you to turn the air conditioner off a few minutes before leaving for work and on just before you get home from work. This helps you avoid wasting energy cooling an empty house.
Window air conditioners, despite consuming relatively less energy, also need plug in timers.
Clean the air filter regularly
For both central and window units, dirty filters reduce the efficiency of an air consumer by increasing its load and causing it to consume more energy. It is therefore crucial that you regularly check and clean your filters.
Window filters get dirty faster and should be cleaned every month and replaced after at least every three months.
Replace your old air conditioner
Traditional central air conditioners (15 years and older) use considerably more energy than newer ones. Newer models have higher SEER (Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratios) ratings than the older models. Newer models also have energy- saving features such as
By replacing a central air conditioner with a SEER rating of 10 with one with the recommended rating of 13, one cuts up to 50% on the energy consumption.
When buying a new central air conditioner it is important to keep in mind that bigger is not always better. Irrespective of its size, a good air conditioner should have an energy rating of 14 or higher for areas with warmer climate.
Air conditioners with good energy ratings pay for themselves in the long term in the form of a substantial; reduction in the energy bill.
Using renewable energy to cool your home
Though relatively costly to install, solar micro-generation systems are easily sustainable in the long term. Solar energy, particularly in areas with relatively warmer climates would come in especially handy in cooling the house.
With utility companies helping with the installation and equipment, solar panels are easy to set up and maintain and come at no additional monthly cost after the upfront costs are dealt with. You can also manage your electricity usage so that less money is spent there. In some parts of the country, you can even choose your power provider. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas (among others) have deregulated their energy industries which allows companies to compete on price and services offered. If you are lucky enough to live in Texas or another deregulated state, take some time to compare your local electricity companies to find great rates and green products.
Clothe your windows
Solar screens help intercept up to 790% of the sun’s rays before they get into the house. The US Department of Energy reports that solar screens are especially effective when used on east and west facing windows.
For as little as $15 you can get solar screens for your windows on Amazon.
Last month I was at my cousin’s bridal shower. There were two tables filled will amazing gift baskets. Side note: my mother goes to tons of events and typically wins 1-3 gift baskets at each event. Do you know anyone else who is this lucky? I, personally do not. So, most of the glorious gift baskets were donated by my mother who – not kidding – has a closet full of things ready for regifting.
Now back to the bridal shower. There were 80 woman in attendance and around 20 prizes. The bride-to-be picked a name and the lucky guest would pick out a prize. The last name to be called was mine. I looked over at the table and all that remained was this huge birdhouse. I remember exclaiming, “I love birds,” as I picked this thing up like you would a small child.
As you can see, this isn’t the kind of birdhouse you attach to a tree. You’d have to set it on a tree stump or something – which I don’t have. So, you know me, I had to repurpose it. The funny thing is, I’ve actually repurposed a wine box into a birdhouse (actually a raptor box). Repurposing can go both ways depending on your needs!
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to refashion this sunflower monstrosity into a church. Why? Because coming from a large Catholic family we celebrate a lot of sacraments. I thought it would make sense to have a decoration that could be used for all sacraments. We are coming up on the sacramental season – first communions and confirmations.
I also thought I wanted to make it functional. I had this brilliant, untested idea that I could make it into a card depository. So if guests were giving a card they could slip it into the front slots. This was a craft fail! I didn’t realize this until I sawed the top off, enlarged the front slots and tried to insert a large greeting card. Clearly I had no concept of size. This birdhouse was not nearly big enough!
Next idea – a luminary, like this one. You may know I’m obsessed with stained glass. So for this project I made stained glass windows out of a recycled vellum envelope I salvaged from the mail. To show off the “stained glass” I put an electric tea light into the birdhouse.
How to Repurpose a Birdhouse into a Church Luminary
1. I sawed the top of the birdhouse off with my jigsaw. Fail! In retrospect I recommend cutting a circular section out of the bottom of the birdhouse, like you would when carving a pumpkin so you can put the candle in the pumpkin.
2. Make the holes in the birdhouse into faux stained glass window. You can use vellum or repurpose clear plastic from product packaging that you were going to toss in the recycling bin. Decorate with Sharpie or permanent markers. Tape to the inside of your birdhouse.
3. Paint the birdhouse – if necessary – to look like the church of your choice – usually white and black. To made the door, Mod Podge wood grain scrapbook paper or hot glue on popsicle sticks. I hot glued a brown bead for the doorknob.
Yes, I’m on a cork kick for a couple reasons. One being sustainability. This is interesting. Cork is considered a sustainable resource because it’s both biodegradable and renewable. Cork comes from the cork oak tree (Quercus Suber), but instead of needing to cut down the tree to source the benefit of the raw material as is done with the majority of all other wood species, the bark (or outer skin) of the tree is peeled off, and the tree is left to regenerate.*
My next reason is that cork is a fun and useful material for DIY crafts.
Where to Buy Cork for Crafts
Unless you’ve gone hunting for cork, you’ve probably never noticed it in the places you shop. Good news is, it’s very easy to find at any craft store live Joann’s, Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
You can buy it as sheet or in a roll. I have a large roll that I’ve had for a while and have used for everything from pads under my tile coasters to a make-shift mouse pad. But, if you think that’s boring, hang on for some useful and unique cork craft projects that you will want to make.
5 Sustainable Cork Craft Projects
Use sustainable cork sheets as a DIY mat frame
If you’ve ever shopped for frame mats you know how expensive they can be. And if you’ve ever framed a photo without a mat and have the photo permanently stick to the frame glass (ruined!) you know how necessary a frame mat is.
My son was given a vintage, 1967 aerial photo of the city of Buffalo. He asked if it could be framed for his room. This task was quick because I used cork sheet.
Here are a few benefits I found when using cork:
cork is easy to cut
cork is inexpensive
as I said before, it’s sustainable
and, for you crafty folk, cork is easy to decorate!Cork is an easy material for cross stitch and hand embroidery
Because cork is easy to decorate, I took a little time to cross stitch “Buffalo” into the mat.
Jill at Being Spiffy took these IKEA cork trivets to a new level with a little multi-surface paint, and stencils from Handmade Charlotte. The beauty of this project it its simplicity. Click here for the full tutorial.
DIY Cork sheet ipad case
Natalie at Cremé de a Craft made this super cool iPad case from self adhesive cork. The self-adhesive is used for a fabric lining. So, if you don’t want yours fabric lined you can buy the plain cork by the sheet or roll. I do love the fabric lining, though. Guess what Natalie used – a recycled t-shirt! Click here for more great photos and the full tutorial.
Easy cork sheet canoe DIY craft
I’m in love with this project! You may remember the popsicle stick canoe craft I did a while back. It’s a smashing hit with the kids. Well this kids craft project is just as simple and makes a great DIY souvenir for summer camp or a family vacation. This project comes from Katie Streuernagle from Apartment Therapy. Click here for the tutorial which includes the canoe template.
DIY Cork Sheet pencil box
This project from Micaela at Drifter and the Gypsy has functionality written all over it. Doesn’t it make so much sense to hold your pencils is something that will also display your most urgent reminders? In the spirit of recycling, I’d probably reuse an aluminum can and wrap it with the sheet cork.
And finally here is a link to a video tutorial I did for eHow.com where I made “Green Dorm Art” using sheet cork.