Category Archives: Eco-friendly living ideas

Save And Reuse Fast Food Paper Bags To Pack A Lunch Another Day

Reuse fast food paper bag to pack your own lunch

Here is a simple idea. Have you ever thought about saving that perfectly re-useable paper bag you got at a fast food place? Not always but sometimes that fast food bag is clean. Should you just throw it away after using it for a total of five minutes (sometimes less)? It just seems wrong to waste.

Instead, save it to pack a lunch one day. I prefer reusable lunch boxes but sometimes you can’t pack in a lunch box because of bulk, like when hiking etc..

Always look for ways to reuse.

…and when appropriate, tell them to skip the bag.

Eco-Shower: Rustic Outdoor Shower Made From Salvaged Antique Barn Stall Walls

Eco-Shower with driftwood wreath

An Eco-Shower (in my opinion) is any outdoor shower that is made with mostly salvaged materials and uses solar power to heat the water.

I love my outdoor shower. You can see where horses chewed on the wood and I like the little worm holes in the wood. This eco-shower is perfect for us in Southern Maryland because this area is historically known for its barns/ farms (especially tobacco barns) and the Chesapeake Bay.

Outdoor showers are great for several reasons: they keep your inside shower cleaner- especially good when returning from the beach all sandy… or muddy from a kayak trip. Also using it instead of your inside shower will keep the extra humidity out of your bathroom –especially good for people who have bathrooms where mold is a problem. In addition, it will reduce your electricity usage because you don’t have to use your water heater to heat your shower water. Best of all, it’s nice to shower outdoors!

A driftwood wreath fits in nicely. Don’t you think?

eco-Shower Side View

How to:

Good friends of mine were renovating the inside of their antique Maryland barn. That is how I was lucky enough to get my hands on some barn stall walls. I recruited my husband to help me build a frame out of treated four by fours. I used the pieces of the stall walls for the walls of the shower. There was some reconstructing (rearranging) involved.

Paint on a coat of water sealer to help preserve the wood.

To add the lettering on the side, I printed out a font that I liked in a large font size. I cut out the letters, traced the letters on the wood, and then pained the letters with acrylic paint.

Set up a garden hose extending to your shower. The longer the hose is the better (within reason). I connected two long hoses and coiled them neatly in a sunny location. The sun will heat the water while you are getting hot and sweaty mowing your lawn or working in your garden.

I located the shower far enough away from the house to avoid water problems and the land slopes away from the shower into the woods. You might want to install a drywell, which is basically just a hole filled with rocks. We currently stand on a slab of granite while showering but someday I think I’ll add a gravel walkway to the shower and a gravel floor in the shower.

Admittedly, we only use the shower seasonally. I don’t like a cold shower. But in the summer it’s fantastic.

Eco-Shower Back View

Don’t forget to add hooks to hang up cloths or towels. I used cleats (found at any hardware store) because they gave it a boat house feel. Even better would be to find some old cleats and reuse them in this project.

Eco-Shower Back

For privacy, I ripped a few barn boards into strips and filled some of the gaps between the boards.

Home-made Soap On Rock Soap Dish

Here is some home-made soap that I made. It is on a rock soap dish.

Eco- gift Wrapping; Ribbon Made From Shirts


giftwrap using MYO shirt ribbon

I do a lot of projects with salvaged clothing. I like finding ways to reuse second-hand clothing (or my own cast-offs) especially if they are flawed in some way and therefore not even good enough to bring to thrift stores.
As a byproduct of another craft project, I had a strip of shirt and thought that it looked like ribbed ribbon. The next time I was wrapping up a gift, I gave it a try.
How to:
Find a suitable shirt.
Using a rotary cutter and a metal ruler cut across the grain in order to achieve a ribbed ribbon look.
Cut strips of fabric an inch or so wide, your preference, but try to keep it even.
I cut one inch strips from the bottom of an old shirt. Next time I’m going to cut a narrower ribbon of a complementary color and place it on top of my other ribbon for a different look.

Make Cut-off Shorts And Extend The Life Of Your Favorite Pants

flowered cut off shorts
Recycling 101; take your pants with the worn out knees and make them into shorts. This practice of re-using pants to make shorts is especially nice for kid’s cloths due to the tendency for children to prematurely wear holes in the knees.
How to:
Cut at the desired length (add extra if you want to leave a cuff).
Sew a hem, add a cuff or just leave it raw so it will fray.

These shorts were made from a pair of pants that my daughter loved. They had developed holes in the knees so I cut them into shorts and rolled up a cuff and hemmed the new edge. In addition, I cut out the flower detail that was at the bottom of the pants and re-sewed it on the shorts. It looks like I bought them this way.

For the Love of Butterflies: Plant Butterfly Weed

butterfly weed plant

This North American native is a wonderful source of nectar used by many butterflies. Butterfly weed is one of several species of flowers that we grow around our house to attract a myriad of butterflies.

To attract butterflies to our southern Maryland yard, we have included food for both stages of a butterfly’s life: the butterfly as well as the caterpillar. When you plant a butterfly weed you have done both. Plus, the strong orange flowers will give a festive touch to the outside extension of your home.
How to:
My girls scattered some butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberose) seeds in their garden. The seeds were a gift from a thoughtful friend. You will want to plant your seeds in a location that receives full sun. They prefer dry, sandy soil. It turned out to be easy to grow; just keep the seedlings moist. The older plants are much more tolerant of dry conditions. You can plant your seeds in late spring, summer or early fall. Either way, plan to wait until next summer for flowers. Seeds need a cold treatment before germinating. This can be done by either planting outside in the fall, or placing the seeds in the freezer for a few weeks before planting. New plants are also fairly easy to start from cuttings. Our plants have come up each year with no effort on our part and provide butterfly alluring powers. They flower all summer long and in the fall they have cool seed pods with fluff inside.
If you are a southern Maryland local (i.e. you live close enough that you can stop by), I’d be happy to save you some seeds. If collecting your own seeds, wait until the pods are already starting to open.
FYI, avoid pesticides because they kill butterfly larvae.

monarch butterfly caterpillar

Butterfly Weed, a species of milkweed, is a host plant for Monarch Butterflies as well as others.
This is the monarch butterfly in its larval stage completely devouring several of our butterfly weed plants.