With a rewarding passion for repurposing, our new contributor comes up with clever creations on the canal
Our new writer reveals how to reduce, reuse and recycle
Ithink boating puts you up close and personal with nature in a way that house dwelling does not. Having to store my rubbish until the next rubbish point or watching my washing up water drain directly into the canal makes me acutely aware of what I am throwing out. So I try to generate as little waste as possible. I’d like to share with you crafty ways I have found or tried out to help with this. Making something new out of something normally thrown out is deeply satisfying. Join me as I try out new things, repurpose old ones, and attempt to make it all fit on a 42½ft narrowboat.
In my quest to cut down on the amount of plastic I use, the enormous quantity of packaging that seems inevitable whenever one steps into any supermarket constantly frustrates me. In my line of business I use a LOT of fruit and some, particularly lemons, tend to come in those annoying plastic nets that rip my fingers to pieces when I tear into them. For some time I have been baffled by what to do: shall I avoid buying them and stick to loose lemons? That is a possibility, but I use a particular variety of lemon and these are generally not the ones available without the nets. So perhaps I should track them down at a greengrocer? Again, possible, but tricky when continuously cruising as getting to know a local greengrocer is just not practical.
Consequently, I am stuck with them much of the time. We all know the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, right? Well, given that I am struggling to reduce the amount of plastic fruit nets I acquire, I decided to try and reuse them.
Some frantic Googling later, I discovered the possibility of turning them into pan scrubbers. Sounds unlikely, but not only was it surprisingly effective, it was unbelievably easy and cost me nothing. It is lemon marmalade season in my world just now so on a very wet Sunday morning I found myself buying ten nets. Ten. Granted this is a lot, but I reckon in the normal course of events it is perfectly possible to rack up ten nets in an alarmingly short space of time.
For a decent scrubber, eight nets from lemons seemed an ample sufficiency. We
In my line of business I use a lot of fruit and some, particularly lemons, tend to come in those annoying plastic nets that rip my fingers to pieces when I tear into them. For some time I have been baffled by what to do: shall I avoid buying them and stick to loose lemons?
will come back to the remaining two so do not disregard them. Having removed the lemons by carefully snipping off a metal clasp, I set about weaving some string in and out of one of the nets, as close to the remaining clasp as possible. Once done, I tied the string into a tight double knot, snipped off the clasp, and trimmed the loose ends. At the open end, more string was loosely weaved until there was a continuous thread running around the opening. Then I placed seven other nets into the opening and drew the string closed, sealing with a double knot. The loose ends were trimmed and ta dah! How easy was that? How long it lasts remains to be seen but as there is no shortage of the wretched nets making more is not going to be a problem.
Remember the two nets set aside? These I repurposed into soap holders for our shower. I have been looking for a way to stop using shower gel and shampoo, both of which always come in plastic bottles. Andy suggested I just go smelly, but this is not particularly appealing. And something I suspect he’d regret mentioning if I embraced it. My problem with solid soap in showers is memories of the days before gel, when the soap would sit, puddled, in a slimy dish slowly dissolving while leaving a rancid goo behind. I am not keen to return to this. So how about this: fruit nets turned into soap bags and hung close to the shower head out of the way of the cascading water? I am trying out a shampoo soap bar so needed one for this and another for the ordinary soap. The bags were made in an almost identical way to the outer net of the pan scrubber. I used string again to weave as this was all I had, but it would be a nice use of ribbon if you had any. We had no self-adhesive hooks on aboard Wand’ring Bark so I had to buy some from Tesco’s meaning this was not a totally cost free make but at 50p for them both, it hardly broke the bank. Best of all though, to use the soap, there’s no need to remove it from the bag, just wet, lather, and use, all with the net still around the bar: gentle exfoliation along with cleansing. Who needs a separate bath lily, eh?
A fortnight after making these I felt a review was in order. The pan scrubber had performed remarkably well at cleaning. It was gentle enough to use on non-stick pans but strong enough to remove baked on dirt. However, two weeks was about all it lasted for. But that is two weeks of re-purposing something that was destined for landfill and two weeks of not using an alternative shop-bought item. My current plan is to save all the nets I acquire for a few weeks, and then spend an evening making several scrubbers and just store them till needed.
The soap nets have been even more successful. I particularly like using these but after three weeks use, they are just beginning to wear out. For my next model, I intend to use ribbon at one end, tied in a bow so that I can reuse it for the next one. And the next one. And possibly the one after that too.
If you have a go at any of these ideas, I’d love to hear how you get on. And maybe, if you have any crafty suggestions for me try you could get in touch? Next month, we’ll take a look at boat-made soaps, laundry detergent, and fabric conditioner. Bet you can’t wait.