Earth Day 2016 DIY Projects

Did you know that today is Earth Day? This is an annual event that is celebrated in over 141 countries worldwide. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is now officially coordinated by the Earth Day Network, a global organization. More than 1 billion people take part in Earth Day events, which makes it the biggest civic observance day worldwide.

The while point of Earth Day is to generate an interest in a global movement to try and generate a healthier, and more sustainable environment. It also aims to tackle climate change issues in order to make the Earth a better place now and in the future.

While many companies and industries do everything they can to reduce their impact on the environment, there are many simple DIY projects that we all can do at home to reduce our energy consumption or make our lives a little greener. These DIY Projects include,

1. Rain Barrels

While water seems like a finite resource, it isn’t always efficient to use water from a tap or hose. Rain is a natural resource that you can use to your advantage, however, many of us simply pull out our umbrellas and ignore the fact that we can store it for future use.

It might seem silly at first, but setting up your own rain barrel at home ensures that you have a supply of water at all times! You might already know that there are many different rain garden barrels already on the market. While you can purchase various sizes and models of rain barrel, you can actually make your own in a few easy steps.

You will need:

  1. 1 large barrel or garbage bin
  2. 1 spout
  3. Sharp knife

To assemble:

  1. Set the barrel or garbage bin in the place where you can collect the most amount of rain water runoff. Typically this is at the base of a rain gutter.
  2. Cut a hole in the lid of the barrel or garbage bin large enough to allow the water runoff to flow into the barrel or garbage bin.
  3. Attach the spout to the bottom of the barrel.

That’s it! All you have to do is wait for it to rain. With the collected water, you can fill water canisters, use it to water your garden or lawn and even in cases of emergency.

2. Plant a Tree

Planting a tree is one of the easiest ways to help the environment. In fact, there are many initiative or events run by the Earth Day Network to get people planting trees or tree seeds all over the world.

When you plant a tree in your backyard or neighborhood, you are providing your community with cleaner air, shade and the chance for future generations to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Before you go ahead with this fantastic DIY, it is important to remember that some communities in some cities and states have different laws regarding planting trees – especially when it comes to planting a tree in your neighborhood. Make sure to investigate your local laws before you start digging!

3. Urban Homesteading

Building a garden in your backyard is a wonderful way to give back to the environment. You can grow all sorts of vegetables, fruits and even herbs without having to use too much space. For those who live in apartment buildings, there are many different ways to use your balcony to grow the same types of produce.

There are so many benefits to urban homesteading to the environment. The primary benefit is to bees. Due to the steady and rapid development of urban areas, bees have a hard time finding pollen. Gardens of any form help these insects to find what they need in order to survive (which helps other plants survive) as well as generate honey.

When you grow the food you need, you also lower the trips you need to make to the grocery store. This means that you can reduce your carbon footprint by using less gas. Fresh produce can also be eaten raw, like in a salad. This also reduces the amount of energy you require in your kitchen to prepare a tasty meal.

4. Home Made Candles

Turning off all the lights in your home and working by candlelight is a great way to conserve energy. While you need to be extremely careful, eating a meal or playing a few board games by candlelight is a great way to reconnect with your family and friends.

You will need:

  1. Wax
  2. Wicks
  3. Double Boiler
  4. 8oz Mason Jars
  5. Thermometer
  6. Spoon
  7. Old pens

To Assemble:

  1. Melt the wax on your stove using the double broiler. Use the spoon to stir and help break up the wax. Check the temperature of the wax to make sure that it remains between 160 – 170 degrees. If it gets hotter – remove it from the heat source.
  2. Stick a wick to the bottom of one of the 8oz mason jars.
  3. When your wax is melted, let it cool down to 130 – 140 degrees.
  4. Pour the melted wax into the 8oz mason jar. Be sure to hold onto the wick so that when the jar is full, the end is uncovered and dry.
  5. Tie or secure the wick around an old pen and rest it on top of the mason jar to help keep the wick centered while the candle dries.
  6. Let the candle dry.
  7. Trim the wick to your desired length.

5. Tin Can Lanterns

Before the invention of the light bulb, people used to use lanterns to light up their homes. While they aren’t as popular today, making your own lanterns for your garden or home are easy, and a great alternative to evenings where you feel like conserving electricity.

You will need:

  1. Clean and empty tin cans (any size)
  2. Hammer
  3. Variety of nails (for hole size)
  4. Candles
  5. Towel

To Assemble:

  1. Remove the labels from the cans.
  2. Fill the cans with water and put them in your freezer overnight. This will stabilize the can for the next step.
  3. Place the tin can on top of the towel to catch ice chips and prevent the can from slipping.
  4. Use the hammer and a nail to punch out your desired pattern.
  5. Run warm or hot water over the can to melt the ice until it pops out.
  6. Set a candle(s) at the bottom of the can.

When you’re ready to use your new lanterns, all you have to do is light the candles and set them around the room, or even a picnic bench outside.

6. Seal Air Leaks with Caulk

This is a fairly easy DIY project that can save you between 5 – 10% in energy costs and will only take you a few hours to complete.

You will need:

  1. Caulk
  2. Caulk gun
  3. Large screwdriver

To assemble:

  1. To make sure that the caulk sticks well, clean the surface where you plan to caulk. If needed, use the screwdriver to remove any old caulk.
  2. Hold the caulking gun at a 45 degree angle and slide the nozzle along the crack while gently squeezing the trigger. The idea is to get as much of the caulk into the crack as possible.
  3. Dampen your finger, and push the caulk into the crack to ensure it is filled. If you’ve made a mistake, simply wipe it up with a clean cloth.
  4. Allow the caulk to dry (follow the instructions on the packaging).

While most caulking can be done safely by someone with limited knowledge of home repair and renovation, if you require caulking around heating and cooling ducts, please contact a professional.

7. Insulate Hot Water Pipes

When you insulate your hot water pipes, it actually increases the temperature of the heat by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. This in turn allows you to use less hot water for showing, cooking and cleaning. For some, it might make more sense to have someone come in and insulate the pipes for you, however if you are currently having your insulation replaced and know what you are doing, it might be a good time to try this DIY home energy improvement project.

Please keep in mind that when it comes to home projects like this one, it’s always a good idea to refer to a professional for advice and tips. This particular project is designed for people who are comfortable with taking on a medium level DIY challenge.

You will need:

  1. Tape Measure
  2. Foam Pipe sleeves
  3. Duct tape
  4. Scissors

To Assemble:

  1. Measure the pipes. You will want to measure all lengths of pipe that will be covered with the pipe sleeves.
  2. Cut the pipe sleeve to the required lengths.
  3. Place the pipe sleeve on the pipe. Make sure that the seam faces down.
  4. Use the duct tape to secure the pipe sleeve to the pipe.

8. Sew It

The clothing industry requires a lot of power to run its factories, ship its products and sell them in stores in your local mall. Purchasing your own low-energy, sewing machine can help you to mend and save the clothes you already own and allow you to repurpose clothing you can find at your local thrift store.

A quick Google search will reveal a large number of sites dedicated to this environmentally friendly option. There are also many cities that offer sewing lessons to help you learn how to correctly use your sewing machine. It might seem daunting at first, but the savings from not having to buy name brand clothing will soon start to add up!

Another alternative to sewing is knitting or crocheting. These are relatively inexpensive hobbies that you can pick up to create your own many different kinds of warm wears. Instead of cranking up the heat next winter, knit yourself a sweater, make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and settle in with a good book.

9. Backyard Root Cellar

You can store many of your root vegetables like potatoes, carrots or turnips in your backyard at any time of the year by simply building yourself a root cellar. A root cellar will keep your food dry and prevent it from spoiling until you’re ready to use them. Building your own root cellar will help you to reduce the energy you need to power your in home refrigerator or freezer.

You will need:

  1. Backyard
  2. Pail, Garbage can, plastic container or cooler (or even an old fridge or freezer)

To Assemble:

Assembly actually relies on a variety of factors. Depending on the types of food you plan on storing and the climate you live in will inform you about on the type of cellar you will require. The food we eat does need some form of drainage plus insulation, so using an old fridge or freezer might not be the easiest to work with. The good news is, there are plenty of sources available on the Internet and at the library for you to investigate to discover which method will work best for you!

10. DIY Power Generators

There are many different ways to build your own power generator. Depending on the complexity of the project, these generators can be powered using your own two legs. It is important to note that many of these types of projects are complex and require some knowledge of construction to complete. That being said, if you succeed in creating your own generator, you will have access to power that can lower your current energy costs.

Types of generators you can build include,

  • Bike Generator
  • Washing Machine Generator
  • Wind Turbine Power Generator
  • Portable Solar Power Generator
  • Lawn Mower Power Generator

So, now that you know about several DIY projects you can do to reduce the amount of energy you consume on a daily basis, why don’t you try one of them? There’s no day better than Earth Day to start!