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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recycling Projects: Featuring Ellen Lennon!

A Viridorari viewer and close friend of mine, Bruno, decided to try out last week's project (making apples out of plastic water bottles) and sent in pictures of his finished product! His apple became a gift for his favorite teacher.

Pictures courtesy of: Bruno

This week's Guest Writer, Ellen Lennon, will be providing Viridorari with a fun project that takes an old hoodie and turns it into a new backpack! This project will require a lot of adult help, as it involves sewing. However, the kids can have a fun time decorating the end result with fabric markers and puffy paint. 

Here's some information that Ellen provided about herself:

"I live with my husband and three boys in Palmyra, New York. I work as a substitute school nurse for the Pal-Mac School district. Lucky me, I get to see my boys and friends at school! I also work in the ED of a small community hospital in Newark, NY, where I also, unfortunately, see local kids and their parents. 

I hate to see waste, so I got the idea of "recycling" outgrown/stained/dog-chewed hoodies for sports bags. Green and stylish too! I have made one for each of my three boys and for several of their friends. I hope you enjoy making the hoodie bag! Good luck!"

Now, let's get started on this fun and creative project!

Hoodie Backpacks
Supplies Needed:
  • Old hoodie or sweatshirt
  • Scissors
  • Material for making a pattern (A pattern is an original garment from which other garments of a similar style are copied. It can also refer to the paper or cardboard templates from which the parts of a garment are traced onto fabric before cutting out and assembling). Definition from: 
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Puffy paint, fabric markers, and other decorative items (optional)

1. Find and old hoodie or sweatshirt
2. Cut the sleeves, hood, waistband, and neckband off the hoodie. Save the sleeves. 
3. Make a pattern 24" long x 18" wide for the body of the bag.
4. Center the pattern over the front and back of the hoodie and cut around the pattern to make two 24"x18" pieces.
5. Cut the cuffs off the sleeves and save them. Cut along the seams of the sleeves and lay them out flat.
6. Cut 3" wide strips from the flat sleeves.
7. Cut two 4"x5" strips from the sleeve cuff.
8. Sew together sleeve strips to make two 3"x60" strips.
9. Fold the right sides of the strips together to make two 1.5"x60" tubes. Turn right side out. 
10. Fold 4"x5" cuff strips in half and pin them 2" up from the bottom of the 24" side of the front of the hoodie. 
11. With right sides facing out and the folded cuffs sandwiched between the front and back pieces, sew three of the sides together (bottom, left, and right), stopping 3" from the top. 
12. To make a pocket for the drawstring top: fold the fabric 1.5" down from the open top and sew against the bag. Turn right side out. 
13. To make the arm straps: starting from the right side of the drawstring pocket, thread a 1.5"x60" tube all the way around the top of the bag, then thread the tail end through the cuff at the bottom of the bag. Repeat starting at the left side of the pocket with the other tube.
14. Sew the edges of the tubes together to complete the loops. 
15. Set the kids loose on the bag with puffy paint and markers.
16. Enjoy your new hoodie bag!
Illustrations courtesy of: Ellen Lennon

Here is Ellen's middle son, Josh, modeling his fashionable, recycled hoodie bag:
Picture courtesy of: Me, with special thanks to Josh for his consent to use the picture on Viridorari

Thank you, Ellen, for providing this creative outlet for recycling on Viridorari. I hope you and your kids enjoy this project! If you decide to make a hoodie bag, please consider contacting me at and telling me how your project went, or send pictures of your final product. Do you have questions or comments for Ellen? Leave a comment below or email me, and I will make sure Ellen receives your inquiries. 

Are you no good at sewing? That's absolutely fine. There are other ways to recycle the clothing that you no longer want. Before you throw out that old pair of jeans or the shoes your child outgrew, consider instead consigning the garments for cash, or donating them to charity for those in need. These are both simple ways to ensure that products are used for as long as possible instead of being prematurely thrown in the dump to take up space in landfills.   

Animal of the Month Update

 Picture courtesy of:

Snow leopards mostly hunt wild sheep and goats. They are also known to eat smaller animals like rodents, hares, and birds. Their extremely large paws act as snowshoes to prevent them from sinking into the snow, allowing them to walk across the surface instead. Their paws are completely covered in fur to protect them from the cold.

The Panthera Corporation is one of several organizations that work to protect snow leopards. Panthera focuses its conservation strategies on the world’s largest and most endangered cats- tigers, lions, jaguars, and snow leopards, and also includes conservation projects for Iranian cheetahs, cougars, and leopards.
 Panthera supports research and conservation activities for many cat species and develops wild cat experts through grant programs. The Panthera Corporation’s mission is simple and to the point: “to ensure the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and global conservation action.” The organization claims that conserving wild cats across the globe is important for preserving their ecosystems, which contain thousands of other species of animals and plants. “Cats act as landscape guardians and their presence indicates healthy, intact ecosystems that are crucial for life, including people.”

Panthera’s Snow Leopard Conservation Project protects the endangered “mountain ghost” by carrying out ecological research, training field biologists, assessing threats, securing habitats, working with communities to resolve snow leopard and human conflicts, and helping governments create National Snow Leopard Action Plans. In 2008, the Panthera Corporation, teamed with the Snow Leopard Trust, began the world’s first long-term ecological study of Mongolian snow leopards. For this major research project, Panthera is carrying out non-invasive research with GPS collaring and tracking, along with camera trapping. In partnership with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Panthera is currently using snow leopard feces (scat) to carry out in-depth genetic research. The program analyzes scat samples collected by Panthera’s field staff to identify genetic similarities among snow leopard populations in order to pinpoint the best regions and populations to target for conservation.    

There are many ways that you can support the Panthera Corporation so they can continue to be invaluable guardians for snow leopards and several other ailing wild cat species. You can donate money directly online at Panthera guarantees that 100% of your monetary donation goes directly into the field. Like the Snow Leopard Conservancy’s “Adopt a Snow Leopard,” Panthera provides donors with the “Adopt a Cat” option, in which you receive: a screensaver, computer desktop, and mobile phone background of your adopted wild cat species, an adoption certificate, a fact sheet about your species, and a brochure outlining Panthera’s conservation programs for your species. The minimum fee for “Adopt a Cat” is $250, and your money goes toward: providing food and supplies for a patrol team in tiger habitat; supporting the salary of a well-trained “community scout” in Africa who helps track lions, protect them from hunters, and reinforce corrals to protect livestock from lions; providing materials for a community-based educational seminar to resolve conflicts between ranchers and jaguars in Latin America; deploying camera traps to survey snow leopards in Mongolia; and providing supplies for scientists who monitor leopard activities. Don’t want to spend $250? There are many cheaper ways that you can support Panthera, such as shopping on their online store for shirts, ties, hats, books, tote bags and water bottles. If you feel motivated to starting your own fundraising campaign for Panthera, the organization provides ideas and resources to get your campaign started. The things I have listed here do not include all of Panthera’s donation methods. To find out more about donating to Panthera, go to

I will continue to provide information about and ways to help organizations that support snow leopards. I hope you will find an organization that you truly appreciate and will consider donating to them in some way. Preserving Earth’s wildlife is important for a future that is healthier for you, the people around you, and the global environment.


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