Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Upcycle 5 Things

I continued to ride my bike this week to nearby places. I totaled 14.6 miles, which equates to .67 gallons of gas in my car saved, and with current prices, $2.45 not spent. That may not seem like a lot, but look at this way: this EPA fact sheet says that burning one gallon of gas emits nearly twenty pounds of carbon dioxide. So, traveling .67 miles on my bike kept my car from belching more than ten pounds of carbon dioxide into the air. Imagine how many pounds of emissions could be spared each year if we all started to use our bikes more often!

Do you love riding your bike, whether it be for exercise, sport, your wallet, or the environment? Sign People for Bikes’ pledge, and help them reach their goal of one million pledges! The pledge shows that you’re committed to riding your bike, and it will help advocate for making towns and cities more bike friendly by adding bike lanes, paths, and trails. Be sure to change your badge to the type of bike you prefer to ride! When I signed, I picked the “commuter” bike. Which style will you pick?
Picture courtesy of:

Now, on to this week’s Green Challenge! I had a lot of fun this week reusing and repurposing a few things, so for the coming week, I challenge you to repurpose or upcycle five items instead of throwing them away or recycling them.

Here’s a good tip for upcycling; when planning to repurpose something, don’t think about what you can make that object into. Try to think of something you need or want around the house, and then consider the alternative items you could make it from. Not only does upcycling keep items out of the landfill, but, hopefully, your upcycled item will actually be useful to you and your household.

Need some ideas? Check out past Recycling Projects on Viridorari for lots of fun upcycling ideas that your kids will love, too. A quick search of “upcycling ideas” or “recycling projects” on Google (or Goodsearch!) will bring you lots of cool (and even downright amazing) results.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

My dad recently bought two large fans for the house, which meant two large cardboard boxes. After some brainstorming with Dad, we were able to take one of the boxes and turn it into a shoe compartment. Our front entryway is always cluttered with shoes, so not only did we have fun constructing it, but the end result was useful!

 Before: the unaltered box

 After: shelving unit with wrapping paper

With shoes! The cardboard even supported heavy boots!

Although we used it as a shoe compartment, I imagine the same object could have many other uses, particularly for storage and organization. This project didn't use up all the cardboard from the original box, but it used most of it and saved a lot of cardboard from the recycling bin.

At my house, we love candles. The smell great and the burning flame casts lovely patterns on the wall and makes a room feel more homey. However, have you ever noticed that a dead candle often has left over wax at the bottom? What do you do with jar that has wax caked at the bottom? Throw it out?

Wrong! You can get the wax out, make new candles for free, and reuse the remaining empty jars!

I took eight candle jars and cups, removed the wax, melted it down, made four new candles, and kept the remaining four jars for reuse. To do it, I first put the jars into the freezer. After a couple of hours, the cold pulls the wax away from the sides of the jar. Then, I took a butter knife and levered and scraped the wax out of the jars and into a saucepan. In the saucepan I melted the wax while I cleaned out four of the eight jars. To clean them, fill them with warm water and some dish soap; the wax comes out very easily! Peel the labels off if you want. Mine came off really easily, but if you have problems with yours, some white vinegar and elbow grease should do the trick.

Cleaned candle jars

After the wax melted, I poured it back into the four jars I hadn’t cleaned. There are a few things you can make wicks out of, including, but not limited to, cloth strips, paper towel strips, and cotton string. I had leftover cloth from making t-shirt bracelets, so I cut a few strips to the heights of my candle jars. I soaked the strips in the wax and positioned them where I wanted them as the wax dried.
 Before: empty jars and wax in cooking pot

  After: four new candles!

While the wax in my new candles dried, I went to work finding a new purpose for one of my clean candle cups. So, my hair is very long and thick. I go through hair ties very quickly because my hair stretches them out and eventually snaps them. Then, when I go hunting around the house for a new hair tie, I can almost never find one. But when I’m not looking for them, they seem to be everywhere. On the shelves, the living room side tables, the bathroom counter, the bathroom floor, hiding in the corner with some dust bunnies. I took the smallest of my candle cups and scoured the house. I found a handful of hair ties, clips, and bobby pins lying around the house, rescued them, and gave them a new home in the cup, which now sits in the bathroom. Now, when I go looking for a hair tie, I know where I can find one and I won’t have to spend fifteen minutes hunting!

What will you repurpose this week? Send me before and after pictures of your upcycled items, and I will feature them on the blog next week! If one of your projects goes particularly well, consider being a Guest Writer for a Recycling Projects for Kids post! Email me your photos, questions, comments, feedback, and more at Follow me on Twitter; I often re-tweet awesome upcycling pictures and ideas. Don’t forget to comment on and rate Viridorari posts, like this one!

Good luck, and have fun!


Animal of the Month Update
The eastern lowland gorilla, the other eastern mountain gorilla subspecies

The mountain gorilla is one of two subspecies of the eastern mountain gorilla species. The other subspecies is the eastern lowland gorilla, pictured above.

    Mountain gorillas are primarily herbivorous. Most of their diet is made up of the shoots and stems of 142 different plant species. They also eat bark, flowers, and fruit. Only .1% of their diet is made up of small invertebrates. Males can eat as much as seventy-five pounds of plants in a single day, while females can eat up to forty pounds.

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