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5 DIY Projects That Cost Practically Nothing

Our budgets often seem pretty tight and we can get pretty reluctant to part with our hard-earned money. Also we might not want the trash can to fill up as quickly as it does because it means that much more in a landfill and another trip to the dump. (Not to mention the smell sometimes. The kitchen in my dormitory floor.... holy crap.) However, you would be surprised at how much you can do with things you would normally just throw away. Here are five projects that not only are friendly for your wallet, but are great for the environment as well.

Plarn can look awesome when done right, like with these eco-friendly sandals.

Plarn can look awesome when done right, like with these eco-friendly sandals.

How to Make Your Own Yarn and Reduce Plastic Waste

While I still find the name incredibly gross and tacky, plarn is genius for many reasons. It is yarn made out of plastic shopping bags. Not only will it get rid of your stash of plastic bags and give you something new to do, but it will also help the environment. Plastic pollution is a major concern in the environment and especially in the ocean. Not only are plastic bags difficult to recycle, but recycling can cause a lot of pollution itself. Plarn projects, however, don't hurt the environment at all.

To make Plarn:


Plastic bags


1) Straighten plastic bag so it lies flat and neatly.

2) Fold the bag lengthwise twice and cut off the handles.

3) Cut strips horizontally into the bag according to how thick or thin you want the plarn to be. Strips 1 inch or more are very strong and are more suitable for things like bags while 1/2 inch strips are better for lacier or more delicate projects.

4) Remove the bottom piece. Now you should be left with a bunch of plastic loops.

5) Link the loops in a chain using the lark's head knot (see video below). Keep joining loops until you have it for the desired length. This leaves the plarn looking nice without any knots in it.

If you don't mind knots and would prefer using the entire bag, you can also simply cut open the bag and cut it into strips to tie together. I'm using that method to make a bath mat right now. It's not that pretty when I'm knitting it up, but hopefully I can just crochet in all of the ends. I'll update this post when it's done to let you guys know how that worked out for me.

You can make just about any knitting or crocheting project with plarn. Making reusable shopping bags are pretty popular as well as sandals. There are also a few groups of crocheters and knitters who make sleeping mats for the homeless out of plarn as well.


Get Rid of Junk Mail With Paper Beads

I've been making paper beads for a few months now and they are a lot of fun and really easy. It's a great way to get rid of old magazines or junk mail, as well as old papers, paper bags, Lipton teabag wrappers.... just about anything made out of paper, more or less.

You'll have to be aware about what type of paper you're using. Stiff card paper like those used for postcards are not as flexible as magazines, so beads made out of thicker paper will look chunky and have bigger holes than those made out thinner paper.


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scrap paper

Modge Podge, or something similar. I've heard nail polish also works


needle and thread

paintbrush (optional)

1) lay out your scrap paper in front of you and use a pencil to divide your paper into triangular strips. The height of the triangle determines the width of the bead while the base of the triangle determines the length (oh yes. I'm taking you back to fourth grade math with this). Also, if you want to paint your paper a different color or colors, this is the time to do so.

2) Cut out the strips

3) Thread the needle and place the needle at the base of one of the triangles and roll the paper over the needle to create a small cylinder. Keep rolling until the entire strip is rolled up tightly in the shape of the bead.

4) Take your paintbrush and dip it into your gloss. Dab it at the end of the paper strip until it lies flat before covering the entire bead until it's safe from unwinding. Then slide the bead onto the thread to dry.

You can make different-shaped beads depending on the shape of the paper.

You can make different-shaped beads depending on the shape of the paper.

Cut Down on Waste and Accessorize with a Candy Wrapper Purse

Candy wrapper purses aren't just made with candy wrappers. They can be made with chip bags, magazines, newspapers, or anything like that as well. It's a fun DIY project that you can use with things you find around your house and even things you would have just thrown away. While I have not personally tried this one yet, I want to in the near future.

Make Your Own Planter

Disposable plastic bottles seem to pile up and when they aren't being put in the trash, then they are being downcycled into plastic that will be tossed in a landfill anyway (the recycling/downcycling process causes a lot of pollution as well). This fun craft project can help you start growing some new plants as well as save the Earth from even more plastic pollution. If you want to use this for more permanent plants and not just as a seedling starter, note that the water will easily get infested with mold and algae. This means it has to be cleaned regularly or the bottom half should be painted a dark color to prevent sunlight from shining through.



Xacto knife or equivalent


plastic bottle

muslin fabric scraps (a circle with a two-inch diameter should work)

rubber band

1) Cut your bottle in half. You may want to mark the halfway point before doing this.

2) Take off the cap and cover the hole with the muslin. Secure it with the rubber band.

3) Fill half of the top half of the bottle with dirt.

4) Take a small plant and put it on top of the dirt. Then fill in the edges with more dirt. Make sure the roots are covered. You should have about one inch of space between the dirt and the top of the container.

5) Put water in the bottom half of the bottle. Make sure there's enough room so it doesn't overflow when you put the top half on the bottom half.

6) Put the top half on the bottom half so the cloth-covered mouth is in the water. Now it's free-standing and self-watering.


Decorate Your House With Toilet Paper Rolls

I've only gotten a little bit into making a TPR decoration because other projects take priority. What I can tell you though, is flattening out the toilet paper rolls are really difficult. Make sure you have several heavy, hardcover books and you plan to flatten them for at least a day, but probably two or three days. Anyway, a lot of the things you can do with toilet paper rolls are pretty cool and you can't even tell what their original purpose was a lot of the time. And hey, you were going to throw them out anyway.

There are a lot of things you can do with toilet paper rolls. I'm only showing one project. But for more you should check out the website Crafting a Green World. It's full of a bunch of projects for reusing items you have in your house, including toilet paper rolls.



toilet paper rolls

Elmer's glue


Laundry pins

1. Flatten the toilet paper rolls. You can use heavy books to accomplish this, or weights.

2. Cut each of the toilet paper rolls into five equal parts, so you have five rings from every roll.

3. Lay out the pieces and arrange them in the design you want them. You could do something specific like flowers, or just a random design.

4. Whereever two pieces meet, put some glue in between those pieces and clamp them together with the laundry pins. Let it dry for 30 mins.

5. Now just hang it on the wall!


Margarida Borges from Lyon, France on September 26, 2016:

Very interesting ideas

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on November 04, 2015:

Even the simplest tasks these days are hard to do for a reasonable price. I appreciate all the cheap projects I can find.


Kara Skinner (author) from Maine on November 02, 2015:

I'm glad you like them!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 02, 2015:

Kara, I love all of these ideas to upcycle and repurpose with things at your own home. Pretty cool!

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