Author Archives: Carin Lynn

Product of the Week – Worm Factory 360

Worm Factory 360I live in an apartment within the city and I never thought composting would be possible for me without having a backyard. Well, times have changed & composting is no longer limited to backyards.

The Worm Factory 360 is one of the first composters that can be used indoors or outdoors allowing year round production.  Composting with worms allows you to turn kitchen scraps, paper waste & cardboard into nutrient rich soil for your plants. Plus The Worm Factory 360 is odorless making it great for apartments, kitchens, garages, porches and more.

How does it work?
Simply add a handful of worms & your organic waste to the bottom tray. The worms will start processing the food. Once the bottom tray is filled add another tray. The worms migrate upward to the newest food source leaving the bottom tray full of nutrient rich compost.

As waste is broken down, moisture filters through the system, taking nutrient-rich particles with it. This makes it possible to harvest organic liquid fertilizer right from the spigot.

Why is it better than traditional composting?
With a thermo siphon air flow design, the Worm Factory 360 increases the composting speed. Now you can produce compost much faster than traditional composting methods. Master Gardeners agree, worm castings are one of the richest forms of fertilizer that you can use.

Check out this video which is a preview of the instructional DVD for setting up & managing the Worm Factory 360 worm composting bin.

Buy your Worm Factory 360 today!

DIY – Boy’s Sweater Vest from a Man’s Sweater

Boy's Sweater Vest from a Man's Sweater
Got an old sweater that doesn’t fit you anymore? Instead of tossing it out, up-cycle it into a new sweater vest for a little tyke. Dana over at Made created this awesome tutorial with incredible images on how to do just this.

Supplies Needed:

  • Man’s or Woman’s Sweater
  • 1/4 yard knit ribbing (Ribbing is simply knit fabric with ribs in it. You can find it in most fabric stores, sold on bolts.)

Dana used a sweater vest her son already owned as a guideline. If you don’t have a sweater vest, use one of your son’s shirts as your guide. If there’s a nice waistband on the sweater, you’ll want to use that for your vest. So lay the vest on the bottom.
DIY boy's sweater vest 1

Cut out a front & back, similar to the store-bought vest and add an extra 1/2 inch at the shoulders and the side seams, where the vest will be sewn together.You do NOT need to add extra on the arm holes or the neckline. These will be sandwiched in with binding.
DIY boy's sweater vest 2

Measure around all four arm holes, add up the total of these measurements and cut a strip of ribbing that entire length, and about 2-3 inches wide (depending on how wide you want your binding to be.) Iron the entire strip in half. Then open it back up and iron over each side about 1/4 inch-1/2 inch down. When you’re done it should look like this.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 3

Then cut that strip into 4 pieces so you have a binding for each shoulder piece. Take each binding strip and sandwich each arm hole inside of the binding.  Pin the binding down.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 4DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 5

Then sew down each binding, close to the edge or about 1/4 inch from the edge of the binding. When you’re done it should look like the photo on the right.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 6

With the right sides of the vest together, pin the front and back together at the shoulders. It’s very important that you match up the yellow binding pieces as best as you can at the shoulder so it looks like one continuous binding. Then sew the shoulders together and serge off the seams.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 7

Your vest should look like this.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 8

Now, onto the neck binding. With the same method used for the armhole binding, measure around your entire neck (front & back) and add an extra inch for the seam. Cut a long strip of ribbing that length of your entire neck and about 2-3 inches wide (however wide you made the arm hole bindings). Iron everything, using the same method as you did for the arms.

Now to make the “V”. Cut the binding into two pieces. Then, place your bindings on the neck, right where it will lay and fold the end of the binding over so that it makes a straight line, running right into the “V” of your neck. And cut along that straight line, like this.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 9

Make sure you do that for the binding on both sides. When you unfold the binding pieces. With the right sides together, sew the two binding pieces together.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 10

Turn everything right-side out (make sure you push those little angled pieces out. And when you fold everything back over it should look like this.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 11

Start by Sandwiching the “V” of the vest right inside the “V” of the binding and pin it down. Then, move on and sandwich the rest of the binding around the neck and pin down.

When you get to the back of the vest lay one binding over the other so you can get an exact measurement of where it should close. We don’t want the binding to be too loose, or it will gather up. So…Cut it where the bindings overlap a 1/2 inch.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 12

Then, unfold those two binding pieces together and with the right sides together, sew the two binding pieces together. Fold them back up, sandwich and pin the back of the binding to the vest, and add a label if you’d like. Almost done here! Similar to how you sewed the sleeve bindings above, sew the neck binding on close to the edge or about 1/4 inch from the edge of the binding.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 13

Final step! With the right sides for the vest together, pin down both sides of the vest (and add a tag if you like). It’s very important that you match up the yellow binding pieces as best as you can at armhole so that it looks like one continuous binding.
DIY Boy's Sweater Vest 14

Sew down each side, serge off the seams (if you don’t have a serger, zigzag or leave them raw). And….You’re done!

Thanks Dana! Your little man is the cutest in this recycled man’s sweater!
DIY - Boy's Sweater Vest from a Man's Sweater

Tip of the Week – Switch to a Corded Phone

retro_phoneHere’s an easy tip to save big on electricity…Switch that cordless phone to an old-fashioned corded version.

How is this eco you ask?

Well, cordless phones are energy vampires, just sitting in a recharging cradle they suck up power. Cordless phones use between 2 and 3 watts in both active & standby modes, according to tests by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and about 60% of cordless phone energy use occurs during standby time.

Conventional corded phones use only a trickle of electricity, and that comes through the phone line. Plus, such phones will work even if the power supply to your home is cut off in a storm or another emergency.

So stop wasting electricity today & switch out those cordless phones.

Avoid Chilean Seabass

Pacific halibutNext time you’re thinking seafood for dinner, don’t order the Chilean sea bass. The Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for it due to the high levels of mercury. Plus, scientists have warned it is critically over-fished and possibly on the road to extinction.

Chilean sea bass is a slow-growing fish that takes years to reach reproductive age, making it particularly vulnerable to overfishing. They can live to be six feet long and more than 50 years old, but fishermen are reporting smaller and smaller weights and lower catches.

Since Chilean sea bass live in remote Antarctic waters, law enforcement is difficult and large numbers of boats fish these waters illegally, without proper permits or gear, resulting in most Chilean seabass fished unsustainably.

And according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Chilean sea bass is caught with bottom longlines, which damage the seafloor and lead to high rates of bycatch, meaning the death of seabirds, turtles and other nontarget species.

Good alternatives to Chilean sea bass include:

  • Striped bass
  • Pacific halibut
  • sablefish (black cod)
  • Mahi mahi

Eating Vegan – Egg Substitutes

For all you Vegans out there….Here are a few ways to substitute eggs in your everyday recipes.

You may want to experiment, as somethings will work better then others depending on the rest of your recipe. You can use these substitutes for replaces egg whites as well as egg yolks in baking. For the most part these replacers mimic what eggs do in all recipes.

Ener-G Egg ReplacerEach quantity is equivalent to 1 egg:

  • Ener-G Egg Replacer (follow directions on box)
  • 1 banana (for cake recipes)
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 2 Tbsp potato starch
  • 2 Tbsp soy milk powder & 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp mashed silken tofu

Product of the Week – EconoGreen Plastics

EconoGreen PlasticsWho ever thought plastic trash bags could be eco-friendly? I never did, until I heard of EconoGreen Plastics.

EconoGreen Plastics offers a complete range of bags and drop cloths made from 100% recycled plastics that are oxodegradable and recyclable. Plus, they are as strong, tough and flexible as standard plastic bags and they’re priced in the same range. So whether you’re eco-conscious or cost-conscious, there really is one choice. Greener, stronger, affordable – that’s what EconoGreen Plastics is all about.

EconoGreen Plastics products are:

  • Made from 100% recycled plastics
  • Oxodegradable when exposed to oxygen
  • 100% recyclable
  • Priced at an equivalent or lower price than comparable plastic bags
  • As strong as traditional plastic bags
  • Made in North America

EconoGreen Plastics products are available at all Home Depot stores in the US or online.

DIY – Make Drinking Glasses from Bottles

completeHere is a really cool craft project that recycles old glass bottles from beer or soda and turns them into new trendy drinking glasses.

The project isn’t that difficult, but it does requires some precision & a few tools you most likely don’t have around the house.

Tools

  • Glass cutting wheel
  • Bottle cutting jig
  • Small butane torch
  • “Lazy Susan” or other rotating platform
  • Scrap of plate glass at least 8×8″

Materials

  • A suitable glass bottle to cut
  • 400 grit silicon carbide wet/dry sandpaper
  • Bulk silicon carbide grit (at least 80 mesh)
  • Tap water
  • Oil for glass cutting wheel

Step 1: Select a bottle

step01

Step 2: Score the bottle
After choosing your bottle, the next step is to score the glass for cutting. This is where a bottle cutting jig comes in handy. Essentially you will roll the bottle in the jig creating a scoreline.

step02

Step 3: Apply heat
Once you’ve made a scoreline, position the bottle on a Lazy Susan and apply heat using a small butane torch. Set the torch slightly above the scoreline and rotate the Lazy Susan with your free hand. You will hear click and pops as the glass literally breaks. Go slow, be patient and be careful. You should be wearing your safety goggles at this point.

step03

Step 4: Polish the edge
Now that you’ve cut the bottle, you’ll want to polish the edge. This is called lapping. Drop a pinch of grit on a piece of glass or even a mirror and lightly wet it using a spray bottle. Then, with the bottom of the bottle facing up, make a figure-eight motion in the grit. This can be sensitive to the ears, like nails on a chalkboard, so you may want to wear have earplugs or play loud, heavy metal music.

step04astep04b

Step 5: Round over the corners
Finally, it’s time to round the corners. This is done simply by rubbing your silicon carbide sandpaper along the edges. Do this gently and carefully, until you can smoothly run your fingers around the edge.

step05

The tools that are involved are an investment, but once you get the hang of it I’m sure you’ll think of lots of uses to up-cycle all those old bottles into beautiful new creations.

A special thanks to Make Magazine & Apartment Therapy for the detailed how to guide.