Wednesday, 21 September 2011


A recycled toy, a fish, made from half a sock and a bit of a rattled down jumper.......
Rhoda at Down to Earth has inspired this post pop over there to see how much of her life is also reycled! Lately I've been experimenting with daft things to do with old 'hole in the toe' socks for the local recycling charity I sometimes help out with, which don't look too bad, maybe a cat toy or a nice afternoons activity for a small child? The innard of the silly fish is rattled down wool from an old jumper we've got, the perfect inexpensive way to fill a recycled home made soft toy. We've also made a nifty recycled snake draught excluder from your dad/husbands old tie - filled with sand worked a treat! I got a bit frustrated with the online suggestions for mking these things, they were always full of 'buy two eyes' buy red felt, buy capoc for the filling - hardly ever did it say: go forth and forage around the house for excitng things like...... old buttons (for eyes), rattled down an old jumper for a filling and find someone thing old and red if you like for a snakes tongue - I'm quite a forager when it comes to making things, I entirely blame the wombles who when I was little introduced us to wombling (recycling). I mean why 'buy' the ingredients for a recycled activity - surely that defeats the purpose even though the idea is brilliant.
Womble - from
Now those of you old enough and from the UK will instantly understand the art of wombling, thesedays we call it the art of recycling. Wombles, are semi-mythical creatures, known for their capability to reuse and recycle, their motto 'to make good use of bad rubbish'. In this household whether the rubbish is good or bad we attempt to make a go a recycling everything we can, in true womble style. Given my penchant for unglamorous activities, 'wombling' suits me very well, I've often wondered about getting my own suit made.............well it would be warm? I'll stop now! Back to the recycling, aside the garden, eating and the family (of course) its my other great passion.
Recycled hen home from an old meat cupboard
Recycling, well as I'm often quoted, most of our 'stuff' here at home is either recycled at home, found on freegle, foraged out in charity shops (of which there are 7 in Orkney), recycling shops (2 - steptOZe yard and Re-start Orkney), heard about on the 'Bruck programme' at BBC Radio Orkney or often offered in the paper or on notice boards in local shops. We do OK here for places to both recycle, most parishes have a recycling deport or area and offer/ask goods for reusing through Orkney Freegle and you'll all find a group near you. Brilliant for offering and receiving recycled delights, check it out if you don't already belong to a group. 

Recycled fishboxes brilliant for growing plants and food in
I have to confess, aside the children and the dog and half of the chickens, which are not recycled (although I often wonder about recycling the dog and or the children! (joking)) most of our life is powered by recycling.  The new polytunnel is recycled and the wood from it has been reused in the frame, the posts were recycled scaffolding poles, obtained from a local agricultural store and cut to length, so aside from the cover and the contrete for the posts the polytunnel is entirely a recycled delight.
A new life for an old recycled pole!
The ultimate efficient home recycling machine......
We've got hens, 6 new purchased ones and 4 given from a neighbour recycled hens all of which live in a myriad of recycled homes. Hens are to my mind the ultimate efficient household recycling machine, you give them your leftover food, a bit of grass from the lawn mowing and hey presto they supply you with eggs, free fertiliser for the garden, is there another 'machine' so efficient? I guess a womble is almost as efficent, as is a compost bin comes close or a wormery but they aren't so good for eggs! Therefore in terms of food waste, we simiply don't have any, anything left over gets given to the hens, although they don't get much from this house. Egg shells are also recycled back into their food - we bake them when the oven is on and crush them up fine, mixed in with their food to return some of their minerals to them.
Egg shells are really quickly recycled to the hens or great in the garden for prevenitng slug attacks by spreading under plants
Like Rhoda, all our jars and bottles are kept and reused - they get filled with things like home made pesto, jam and both glass bottles and empty plastic milk containers have been filled with elderflower cordial this year, yum! I'm also using the jars in the fridge instead of using clingfilm or foil, I've taken to putting fresh food (bacon, prawns, cheese etc) in jars with lids to save on using extra materials. It saves money and works well to keep things fresh. A tonne of garden stuff is also in jars, the workshop is also full of tins and jars with nails and screws in, we really try and use up everything we can, in wierd places like mushy pea cans in the laundry.
Home made in a recycled jar
One of the benefits of keeping jars is that it also lets you see what you've been buying, in our case I noticed we were using alot of pesto from the amount of jars saved in the box with pesto labels on them, so I tried growing basil this year and making pesto myself. Pefect, I'm able to reuse the jars and by keeping them and seeing what we've eaten I've tailored my growing to include basil, which has now reduced my spending on shop bought pesto and I'm a happy bunny. The waste hierarchy mantra is 'reduce, reuse, recycle' by keeping my jars to recycle, I'm able to reduce my consumption of shop bought pesto, reuse the jars and effectively eliminated the requirement to recycle them outwith my own home. Brilliant, even if I do think we've done well! I think folk who are gardeners or cooks or at home alot, often have innoventive ways for using things we've got lying around, for instance a well washed out plastic dish (this was a meat tray) make excellent plant pots............recycling plants, seeds and propagating plants is of course a mainstay of each gardener, so I won't witter on about that!
We tend to try and keep and reuse all the tubs/containers which come into the house too - mainly as plant pots. Now don't they look pretty? We use milk cartons for stock in the freezer, cordial in the fridge and even to make plant labels - cut to size........

Egg boxes (cardboard) are a treasure for selling eggs in but also work as handy things for drying onions, seeds and lord knows what else. You can happily start off plant seedlings in either egg boxes or the inside of loo rolls and then just plant them straight out in to the garden. The paper will add fibre to the soil as it slowly decays leaving the plants to grow through their papery layers. I'm lucky everyone I sell eggs to always recycles the boxes back to me, when I get overloaded with them, I distrbute them to a couple of local shops which are also on the look out for boxes. Perfect.
As to the paper stuff we get in the post and that covers packets like cereals, hides inside loo rolls etc - most of that which comes in this house is kept for posting things away, lining the hen house floor, wrapping stuff in shredding for hen bedding when we run out of straw and so on. When I'm selling plants via the internet, I send off my little darling plants inside loo roll innards, they are the perfect size to not only grow plants in but in my case to send off a lovely little plant through the post - the recycled cardboard tube keeps the plant upright and safe whilst it tumbles through the mail. Envelopes and bubble wrap have thier own cupboard in this house at the busiest time of year for selling plants, that will all just vanish, as if by magic. Thankfully a few of my lovely pals keep loo roll innards for me - I'm always running out, its not uncommon for us to leave our lovely friends we've visited with a couple of bags of loo and kitchen roll innards - nor is it uncommon for them to arrive when they visit us with a bag full of them. I don't think that aint anything but inviting communal recycling  - how cool is that?

Clothes, crockery, candles, shoes, plants,  hats and many other delights are something in this house that generally arrive from the charity shop - as a child I hated every minute of the skulking around the charity shops that my mother did, we were on a very low budget and with a family of 4 kids, she got alot of our clothes there. These days the stigma around charity shops has vanished and rightly so, they aren't the vestages of the poor, they are now very fashionable and eco-trendy. Its very green to make sure if you need something new to wear you go on a focussed  'green recycled forage' and check out the selection in the charity shops first. I love them, my weekly treat is a gad about the chairty shops, where I got my rather fetching new hat (!) and I'm not alone in that one - many folk like my friend at this cheerful blog do this as a weekly event!
I've also recycled the childrens clothes and my own wedding dress into mini blankets for us all - we've each got one covered in recycledcut out and embroidered on hearts, made from things like old shirts, pyjamas and favourite things, the blanket part is a on old duvet with an old blanket sandwiched inbetween, we use them all the time - and they go on many adventures with us!
My sons blaket which I  always 'borrow' made from his dads shirt (the blue tartan), my wedding dress (the white lace, which was also recycled from a £5 charity shop buy), a favourite old table cloth (pink) and his first pair of trousers (navy blue)
My favourite boots were second hand or recycled from ebay........

Wellies are a mainstay of our life and these also get recycled only when the develop a leak - into inexpensive recycled garden shoes - perfect!
And, I'll be quiet now, (I can witter on about recycing more than gardening (!)) aside recycling from shops, borrowing is another great way to find what you're needing. I think the art of borrowing is a tradition which with the way we live these days is often lost. I'm lucky I live in a rural place where its not uncommon to ask your neighbour/friend/colleague for a 'shot' (loan) of an item you only need for a while. The ladder we used for the polytunnel were both 'borrowed' and now kindly returned to their rightful owners. I didn't want to spend an excessive amount of money for step ladders I maybe use once of twice a year. Borrowing I think is a big method of 'reducing' our consumption, if we borrow, we've no need to recycle, we simply give it back with a polite thank you and maybe half a dozen eggs in a recycled box......

Thank you to Rhoda for the thought behind her blog which often inspires not only me but so many other folk - pop over and see her at

What recycling do you do, why not join in?

I'll leave you with a lovely recycled tune....

I'm off to find a recycled womble outfit from ebay.......!


  1. There are some great ideas here. I quite often 'raid' the bins at work and reuse what's there eg cardboard to put on raised beds, I don't buy newspapers but I cut the crosswords out of work's library newspaper (the only reason for a newspaper as far as I am concerned!), large catering sized coffee tins for planting, storage etc and boxes with lids that the photocopy paper comes in great for storage x

  2. you mean you dont normally wear a womble suit? i thought you did! only miniature!

    Mr Flowers.

  3. Great Uncle Bulgaria would be very proud that he influenced a generation of kids to recycle.
    I loved the Wombles,don't have a suit though.Have a Scooby-doo one which found its way here via one of my girls after a big night out.
    I thought we did quite well on the three R's, but reading this proves I have a way to go.You are an inspiration!

  4. What a fascinating article... it's absolutely packed with useful ideas and info. I'm sure some government body would be glad to print this, to give less resourceful people some tips and hints!
    Jane Gray

  5. Great inspirational post Fay. My only problem right now is lack of space for all the plastic trays and tubs and jars I want to keep becauase I know they will be useful. I think storage is going to have to be quite close to the top of the wishlist for our next home...

  6. Brilliant. I liked especially the ideas about baking the eggshells to refeed the chickens, and creating the clogs from boots! You are so right that if we just look around (especially my over-stuffed never-throw-anything-away house) a person can find parts of things or even whole things to use. And second-hand stores are WAY more fun than the mall... (Haven't been to the mall since last Christmas- Suppose it's still there?)