With Earth Day just around the corner, you may be thinking about how to make Earth-positive changes. Going green starts at home, and it doesn’t have to be costly or exhausting. Any number of green DIY projects allow you to get creative and make something that’s useful for you and for the planet.
Here are six DIY projects for your home and garden that we collected from around the web. Whether you prefer a simple project or something more complex, there’s something for you, ranging from keeping your home clean to recycling plastic for your neighborhood or community.
We recommend following the links to each of the projects, whose creators have tested and perfected to share with the world. Be sure to send them kudos when you’re done with your green DIY projects.
Reusable Cleaning Wipes
Do you still rely on single-use wipes for cleaning up everyday messes? Made of synthetic fibers and often containing chemicals like bleach, those wet wipes cannot be recycled or composted. So we toss them in the garbage and they end up in the local landfill, or worse yet, littering the landscape. Pins and Procrastination has a quick and easy DIY recipe for making reusable cleaning wipes. They are as convenient as single-use disposable wipes but are reusable, environmentally friendly, contain no harmful chemicals, and are cheaper than buying those disposable wipes.
Although these wipes are made of microfiber cloth, you can make them out of any washable fabric, such as old washcloths or stained kitchen towels. What we especially like about this project is the instructions about how to fold the wipes so that the next one is available to pull from the container when needed.
Ingredients for cleaner
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 1/2 teaspoon borax – to kill bacteria
- 1 teaspoon baking soda – to dissolve dirt and grime
- 3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol – to disinfect
- 5-10 drops essential oils (optional) – for fragrance
You’ll also need
- Microfiber cloths
- Plastic container with lid – to fit your folded wipes
- Knife or scissors – to cut the plastic container’s lid for easy access
First, fold the cloths so that they dispense like Kleenex. To do so, lay the first cloth flat, lay the second cloth half overlapping, and fold the first cloth over. Now, lay the third cloth half overlapping and fold the second cloth over. Repeat this pattern until each cloth is folded. Put them into the plastic container and cut a small opening in the lid to pull out the wipes. Pins and Procrastination has a handy video that walks you through this process.
To make the cleaning solution:
- Combine the borax, baking soda, and hot water. Stir until the borax and baking soda dissolve.
- Add 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and 5-10 drops of essential oils (try orange, grapefruit, lavender, tea tree, or peppermint).
- Pour the cleaning solution over the reusable wipes in their plastic container so they’re ready to use.
When you need a wipe, pull it out, wipe away, and just toss it in the laundry hamper. Once you’ve used all the wipes, wash and dry them, fold them again in the plastic box, and pour in the cleaning solution. Thanks, Pins and Procrastination!
Raised Bed Garden
Kicking off your gardening journey can be exciting but also full of hurdles. What if your soil isn’t up to growing your favorite fruits and vegetables? What if your drainage system isn’t effective? What if you don’t have enough space for a garden? Setting up a raised bed garden can resolve all these problems.
James Prigioni of The Gardening Channel provides a video tutorial that makes quick work of building a raised bed garden at an affordable cost. Your raised bed can be of any size and dimensions, but a 4-foot by 8-foot bed is the most common.
What you’ll need
- Two 2” x 12” planks (8 ft. long)
- Two 2” x 12” planks (4 ft. long)
- 12 2-foot long rebar pieces
- Cardboard or newspaper
- A rubber mallet
- Soil to fill the frame
Once you have all the materials, follow these tips to build the raised bed for your garden.
- Position your boards by laying them with their inner corners touching. Stand each board on its side using rebar. If you don’t have rebar, you can use 3-inch deck screws to join all the boards. You’ve made your bed, now you have to prepare it.
- Line the bottom with cardboard or newspaper and fill it with the soil.
Your raised bed is ready. You can now start planting your garden. We thank James Prigioni for sharing a great idea.
Have you started composting at home yet? Compost from your backyard is one of the best ways to feed your garden. The pile of dry leaves, yard trimmings, and kitchen leftovers can act as a natural fertilizer and promote the growth of your garden. But the heap doesn’t look attractive, so you’ll probably want a container to conceal your backyard compost pile.
This Old House has a plan and instructions for making an attractive compost bin that will never be referred to by guests as “that pile in your backyard.”
While there are numerous cost-effective compost bins made from recycled materials available, you can save money by making your compost bin. We recommend you use rot-resistant cedar.
What you’ll need
- Cedar lumber
- 2-inch trim-head screws
- Wood glue
Follow these steps to build your cedar compost bin.
- Cut out 24 horizontal 1” x 4” lumber slats, eight vertical legs, eight slats and battens for the lid, and one 1” x 4” to match the bin’s height – that’s your spacer.
- Build the back and sides by placing six slats ¾ inch from each other.
- Build the lower and upper panels by placing three slats at ¾ inch from each other.
- Use wood glue and head screws to assemble the bin.
- Make and attach the lid.
Your DIY compost bin is ready. We always count on This Old House for great ideas.
Vertical Garden With Drip Watering System
If you’re passionate about gardening but short on space, a vertical garden can be a great choice. It’s space-efficient and requires minimal water and electricity. Houseful of Handmade has an easy-to-follow vertical garden project with a drip watering system that will have you growing greens and herbs in no time.
What you’ll need
- 2 sides: 3/4″ x 7 1/4″ x 50″
- 6 shelves: 3/4″ x 7 1/4″ x 32″
- 1 base front: 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 35″
- 2 base sides: 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
- 9 back: 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ x 33 1/2″
- Landscaping fabric
- Outdoor wood glue
- Start by preparing the wood and garden rack (see the complete instructions here).
- Then, set up the wall and attach the landscaping fabric.
- Once the structure is ready, you can lay in the soil and start planting.
You’ll need additional supplies and instructions to install the drip watering system. Check out House of Handmade for details.
Precious Plastic Recycling System
Have you ever thought of starting your own local plastic recycling business? Now, you can. The complete setup will cost several thousand dollars but you can start with one part of the Precious Plastic system and work your way to end-to-end plastic recycling success.
While setting up a recycling system is slightly more complex than other projects on this list, you could run it as a local business and generate revenue from it.
Here is a video that explains the systems and getting started.
What you’ll need
To get started, you’ll need four machines that can be combined to shred, extrude, heat, and make plastic items with your recycled plastic. There are videos to accompany each of the projects:
- Shredder – to cut plastic items into smaller flakes (instructions)
- Extrusion – to convert plastic flakes into a line of plastic (instructions)
- Injection – to heat the plastic flakes and inject them into a mold (instructions)
- Compression – to heat the plastic and press it into a mold (instructions)
You can either buy these machines fully assembled or build them yourself. Based on our experience with them, it is worthwhile to get them assembled or work with a local Precious Plastic enthusiast because these machines will need repairs.
Once you have the desired machines, you can start collecting plastic from your area. Once you start using the shredder and extrusion systems, you’ll be able to reclaim plastic pellets you can sell to local companies. Alternately, you can reuse the plastic to make products using the injection and compression systems.
Nontoxic Wood Floor Cleaner
Maybe starting a business isn’t your idea of fun. If you are looking for an around-the-house project, consider Nature’s Nurture recipe for homemade, streak-free wood floor cleaner using nontoxic, environmentally benign materials.
The problem with most cleaning products is that they consist of inorganic chemicals like ethoxylated alcohol and artificial fragrances. These chemicals can cause health problems, including cancer and allergies, and if they get into the local water supply, they can harm aquatic life.
What you’ll need
- 1 cup distilled water
- ½ cup vinegar
- 2 to 3 drops of dish soap
- ½ cup isopropyl alcohol
- 25 to 30 drops essential oil (try 7 drops lavender, 7 drops orange or lemon, 10 drops tea tree oil, and 5 drops peppermint)
- Add all the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake them vigorously until you get a transparent solution.
- Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any stray crumbs.
- Spray the cleaner mixture on the floor.
- Wipe it with a microfiber cloth.
You can use this cleaner solution to clean almost anything, including floors, steel, glass, porcelain, and windowsills. Don’t use it on any natural stone or porous surface as the acid in the vinegar can harm it.
Ready To Get Started?
We hope you enjoy these green DIY projects for your home and garden. It’s satisfying to work on small, eco-friendly projects that eliminate the use of toxins and add a touch of nature to your home. And there’s no better way to break the pandemic blues than by finishing a project and enjoying the results. You can make a positive impact on the environment and live a healthier life with each small change.
This post was originally published on April 15, 2021.