Still at Home: Quarantine Crafts

Anyone else starting to fee like Tom Hanks in Castaway, but in the best way? This summer of work from home and cancelled plans has forced us to find new DIY projects and joy in the simple things like sprinkles and onion peels (keep reading, it’ll make sense). Here’s what some of  the Toads have been up to in recent weeks. Who knows what next month will bring… 
 
Guin, Head of Women’s Design 
I’m customizing a bed for the back of the Forester! ☺ I’m starting on it tonight. Hopefully going to give it a go this weekend up in Big Sur. The back has about a 3” bump that I’m leveling out with gym floor puzzle pieces, and I bought a 3” foam mattress that I’m going to cut to size to maximize sleep space in the back – it’s tight for two adults and two dogs! We plan to just keep the dogs in the back on the mattress when we’re cruising, pack the floor of the back seats, toss the Yeti cooler out at night and utilize the rest of the cargo in the rocket box on the roof. Pandemic summer continues!
 
Sam, Toad&Co Freeport Associate 
I’ve been cooking up a storm and I recently made homemade Pop Tarts! I didn’t have food coloring for the sprinkles so they’re all dyed with natural colors from stuff you’d find in the pantry. Delish. 
 
Natalie, Sustainable Materials Manager 
Does dying old grungy white clothes with food scraps and spices count? 
*Editor’s note: Yes, yes it does. Here’s a step by step guide for how to tie-dye naturally.
 
Sarah, Toad Culture Queen 
I started making my own candles – but not just scented candles. I reuse old glass pasta jars, or almond butter jars to make them, and I put dried flower petals to decorate the top. I top them off with a few gems throughout that “appear” as the wax melts.  And, as a geologist, my rock collection is out of control. I have rocks that I have collected from all around the world, purchased at trade shows, and tumbled myself. My rocks, minerals and crystals are displayed on every surface of my house as well as on designated shelving. I decided I wanted to put together an Excel log categorizing and identifying each rock and then creating labels and lighting units for all of my displays. The displays are indoors (for the top tier rocks) and outdoors (for the second tier rocks). I am hoping by the end of the pandemic basically have a minerology exhibit in my house. 
 
SP_Rocks4_crop
 
SP_candle
 

How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night

Light the citronella candles, pop the corn, and use the cooler as a footstool – it’s an old-fashioned outdoor movie night! And since staying in is the new going out, this is the perfect summer to whip up the backyard (or side yard or front porch or driveway) cinema that you’ve always dreamed of. Here’s our tips for how to host a (socially distant) outdoor movie night for any budget.

Step 1. Pick a spot

If you have a plain white wall that’s flat, you’re in business and skip to step #3. If not, find a spot where you can set some chairs up – you’ll want to be at least 8 feet away (depending on where your projector is). Next, consider if you are hanging a screen or if you are using a screen on a stand. That will determine if you need any hardware to make your screen.

Step 2. Make a screen

There are a ton of ways to make a screen depending on your budget, time, and desire to use power tools. But the one thing that all screens need – regardless of means or mode – is to be pulled taut. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Get an old, white sheet or shower curtain and use some heavy-duty double side tape (a LOT of it) to pull and stick the edges of your fabric to the surface. This method is temporary and only works with lightweight fabric, but it’s just about as thrifty as they come!
  • If you’re using something more heavy duty like a white canvas or drop cloth, cut a small hole in the top left and right corners and hook onto some nails or S-hooks. To pull it taut, fold the bottom of the fabric in and sew a small pocket with open hole on either end. Run a wood dowel or curtain rod through the tube pocket to weigh down the screen.
  • If you’re up for a trip to the hardware store, you can build a 100” frame for under $50 and a few hours of DIY. You’ll need a few 1 x 4 plywood beams, a handful of nails, a staple gun, and white blackout cloth. Think of it as a giant painter’s canvas. Here’s a good YouTube tutorial we’ve used before.

alex-litvin-MAYsdoYpGuk-unsplash

Step 3. Hook up an A/V system

Like the screen set up,  there are about a zillion ways that you can hook up an A/V system depending on your budget, desired lumens, and whether or not you NEED to watch Jurassic Park in surround sound. You can buy projectors from anywhere up to $5,000 or a $50 mini projector that hooks up to your cell phone.

Do your research and figure out which one is right for your budget and needs. If you’re just testing the waters, ask around and see if anyone has one you can borrow for the night. If you do buy one, we recommend shopping local. And even if it’s a big chain store, shopping at the local branch keeps jobs in your community and your carbon footprint lower!

Also, don’t forget about the sound! Some projectors have a built-in speaker, but we suggest plugging in an amp or a speaker to get the full effect! Who wants to listen to listen to American Graffiti out of a rinky-dink speaker? Not us.

Step 4. Pop the corn

Seriously, what’s the point of a movie night with no popcorn?  Save the microwave stuff for the winter and pop the kernels over some high heat. Toss it with all the yums.

  • Plain old butter and salt
  • Sugar, salt, oil of choice (aka DIY Kettle Corn)
  • Brewer’s yeast and coconut oil
  • Olive oil, dried herbs and garlic salt

adrian-cogua-oWrskhOkZtY-unsplash

Step 5. Invite some friends

Or keep it just your family – up to you. Invite friends and neighbors (assuming you have 6 feet of space to spare between friends) and tell them to BYO blankets and chairs. Extra air fives if they add something to the cooler.

Step 6. Pick a Movie

The reason for the season. A few of our summer favorites…  

The Goonies – The classic

Coming to America – For the grown-up movie night

Step into Liquid – When you’re dreaming of waves

Searching for Sugar Man – Good tunes, great story

Dirty Dancing – Gives “family vacation” a whole new meaning

Dazed and Confused – We get older, this movie stays the same age

Sister Act – Gospel music meets the mob. Make it a double feature with Sister Act II

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Don’t forget your heels

shaun-montero-ZxDX8D9HHNM-unsplash

12 Tips to Live a Zero-Waste Lifestyle for Newbies & Fun DIY Projects

By: Pauline Williams

The term “zero-waste living” is increasingly popular these days. More of us are beginning to recognize we have one planet and it’s essential we take care of it. But if you’re just getting started on your zero-waste journey, it can feel overwhelming.

To ease your stress as you embark on zero-waste living, here are 12 tips for shifting to a zero-waste lifestyle for newbies. We’ve also included a few fun DIY projects to do at home that will help you get closer to your zero-waste goals.

1. Start Small

With any new habit, you increase your odds of success by starting small. As author James Clear discusses, small wins are key to helping people establish new habits. If you want to become a zero-waste person, you should not try to change your entire life immediately.

Begin by trying one small strategy or idea for zero-waste living at a time. Pick something easy so you won’t struggle to stick with it. Then, after a few days or a week, you can add another small change. Keep building on those small items gradually, and you’re more likely to continue. Try too much at once, and you’ll probably burn out.

2. Follow the 5 R’s

Bea Johnson’s 5 R’s for a zero-waste living provides a good foundation for a newbie looking to live a more zero-waste lifestyle. They are:

  1. Refuse (anything that produces unnecessary waste)
  2. Reduce (anything you don’t need)
  3. Reuse (anything that can be used again or repurposed)
  4. Recycle (whatever doesn’t fit in the first three categories)
  5. Rot (start composting all other waste)

If you want overarching ideas for how to reduce your carbon footprint, following the 5 R’s is a good start. All of the following tips fit into one of these five categories.

bernard-hermant-dclPEtMVdK8-unsplash

3. Use a Reusable Water Bottle

There’s no need to buy 24-packs of plastic water bottles. Plastics make up a huge proportion of municipal solid waste. If you don’t already have one or two good reusable water bottles, this is an easy step to take to reduce your carbon footprint. Take one everywhere so you don’t have to worry about needing water while you’re out and about.

4.  Consider Carefully Before Buying New

Whatever it might be, think first before you buy something new. Do you really need it? Is there an alternative? Could you borrow the item from a friend temporarily or find a used version that’s equal in quality?

Every new item you purchase comes with packaging. You then have to figure out where to store the item, how to maintain the item, and how long to keep the item. If it’s not good quality, it’ll also end up in a landfill before very long. A great option for new apparel purchases is to look for truly sustainable clothing that will stand the test of time.

S20_Day2_02_29Palms_6D3A9660

5. Borrow or Buy Secondhand

Often, we rush to buy new stuff because it’s the easiest option available. It’s also what we’ve always done. But the borrowing culture is alive and well, and there’s no reason you can’t ask a friend or family member when you need something. Power tools, for example, might be something you only use once in a while and can borrow from a friend or neighbor.

If no one you know has the thing you’re looking for, there are plenty of ways to find secondhand items for free or for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Freecycle, and garage sales are a few options. If you’ve never tried thredUP or The Renewal Workshop, now’s the time to check them out for great secondhand choices. You can also check out local thrift stores and shop for vintage options. This helps keep unwanted items from going into landfills, reduces the amount of packaging waste created, and gives new life to old things.

S20_Day2_01_WonderValley_6D3A9505

6. Avoid Freebies

It can be tough to resist the pull of free stuff. If you go to conferences or other events, they might be handing out free swag like coasters, keychains, and T-shirts. If you’ll actually use the items they’re giving away, then, by all means, feel free to take them. But often, these freebies are poor-quality and not made to last. So learn to say “no” to freebies; that way, the companies won’t make as many of those cheap items.

7. Use Reusable Whenever Possible

So many single-use paper and plastic products are cluttering our landfills, but they’re not necessary at all. Start rethinking your everyday habits. Try to avoid restaurant takeout that uses Styrofoam. Find reusable alternatives to paper towels, toilet paper, and hygiene products. Bring your own reusable tote bags to the supermarket. The list goes on and on.

Toad&Co has amazing reusable shippers from Limeloop you can select when ordering clothing. Made from recycled vinyl, these last for 10 years and are easy to return once your order has arrived. Plus, if you receive anything in one of Toad’s recycled polybags, you can find ways of reusing them to get more life from them.

8. Go Paperless

For your bank account and any other important accounts you hold, you’ll save a lot of wasted paper by going paperless. Companies don’t need to send you a hard copy of your monthly statements anymore; you can get all of the important information in digital format.

9. Grow Your Own Food

Gardening may not be your forte right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new skills. Pick up seeds for a few vegetables or herbs you use regularly and learn how to grow them. You’ll cut down on the amount of food you need to buy at the supermarket and gain confidence in your own abilities.

markus-spiske-4PG6wLlVag4-unsplash

10. Start Composting

Speaking of gardening, begin composting as soon as possible. The EPA says that food scraps and yard clippings make up 28% of the garbage we throw away. Luckily, these can all be composted, keeping them out of landfills and helping your garden grow. Composting is a huge win in your zero-waste journey.

A careful mixture of browns, greens, and water can help you have a successful compost pile. Browns are dead leaves, branches, and twigs. Greens include vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Check out the EPA’s guidelines for more details on how to get started.

11. Cook At Home

You can reduce your carbon footprint quite a bit by simply cooking more of your meals at home. If you go out to restaurants frequently, especially for takeout that comes in disposable packaging, you’re producing a lot of waste. Cooking at home helps alleviate that problem. (It also saves you a ton of money.)

maarten-van-den-heuvel-EzH46XCDQRY-unsplash

12. Fun Home DIY Projects for Zero-Waste Living

There are a ton of items you can make yourself rather than buying. This usually reduces the amount of packaging you bring into your home and often results in a better product anyway. Start thinking outside the box and give some of these DIY projects a try!

  • Bake your own bread. It tastes amazing, and you don’t need the plastic wrapping.
  • Make your own laundry detergent.
  • Make your own home cleaning solutions.
  • Plant starter gardens in old containers (such as kitty litter tubs, yogurt cups, etc.).
  • Create reusable cloth napkins from old clothing and other gently used fabrics.

Conclusion

We all want to leave the earth a little better than we found it since it’s our home. Instead of feeling guilty about environmental issues, take that first small step, and start on your path to a zero-waste lifestyle. No one is perfect, but the more of us that start making these changes, the better off our planet will become.

Pauline Williams is a lifelong environmentalist. She’s worked for a number of nonprofits for the past decade. She’s constantly coming up with new projects and ideas to reduce waste in her home and business.

How To: Natural Tie Dye

As optimists to the core, we are always trying to find the bright spots and silver linings in every situation—no matter how tough. We recently asked our customers what their bright spots were during this global pandemic, and here’s a common thread we kept hearing: Having more time to slow down.

Slowing down comes in many forms, but a lot of you mentioned having extra time for projects, hobbies, family, and making more sustainable choices. So we thought this would be a great time to talk about one of our favorite slow-down, sustainable activities: How to make natural dyes from food scraps (aka tie dye your clothes in the most eco-friendly way).

Using natural dyes to spruce up old clothes is a double win for sustainability: It’s an awesome way to breathe new life into old threads to save them from the landfills—and using food scraps to make the dye is an awesome (and fun) way to make use of your waste in the kitchen. You can use all types of food scraps like avocado pits, walnut shells, and beet tops, but for these instructions, we’re going with two of our favorite natural dye ingredients: onion skins and used coffee grounds.

And a big thanks and shout out to our friend Emma for sharing this step by step guide with us—she’s a textile artist launching her own upcycled clothing line, so yeah, she’s an expert (more on her below).

What you’ll need

  • •Cotton T-Shirt (organic cotton or bust)
  • •Yellow onion skins and/or coffee grounds (two of the best natural dyes)
  • •Rubber bands
  • •A non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enamel work well)
  • •Iron mordant (optional) **

 

What is a mordant?

When dyeing clothes naturally, a mordant is needed to fix your dye to your fabric—otherwise the colors will quickly wash out and fade. Iron (ferrous sulfate) is a a commonly used mordant that “fixes” and “saddens” your colors. It’s one of my favorites and can turn golds to olives and browns right before your eyes! If you’re wondering about natural dyes that don’t need mordant, onions are a great choice. Some plants (like onions) are very high in tannins (a naturally occurring mordant), and do not need additional mordanting with iron or other metallic salts. For this project, you’ll only need a mordant (and some extra lead time) if you choose to dye your clothes with coffee grounds.

To make a mordant at home:

  1. 1. Put a handful of rusty nails in a jar.
  2. 2. Fill jar with 2 parts water + 1 part white vinegar.
  3. 3. Cover and set aside until the solution turns orangey (1-2 weeks).

 

To dye your clothes:

  1. 1. Throw your tees in the wash with a pH neutral detergent (most “sensitive skin” detergents fit the bill). When they’re nice and clean, soak them in a pot of water for at least an hour, but ideally overnight.

 

image001_blogcrop

 

  1. 2. Meanwhile, put your dye supplies (coffee grounds or onion skins) in a non-reactive pot, adding just enough water to cover your shirts. Bring the water to a boil and simmer (for at least an hour, but overnight if you can). For this project, I used about 10 onions worth of skin for one shirt and a half gallon bag of used coffee grounds for a second shirt (1 shirt per dye pot). It’s possible to continue dyeing with the dye pots until the color is “exhausted” (aka producing really, really light colors). You can also adjust the amount of natural ingredients to get your colors darker or lighter.

 

image002

 

  1. 3. After your shirts have soaked, you can bind them into tie dye patterns.

 

For a bullseye pattern, pinch the center of the shirt and wrap rubber bands at regular intervals all the way down. 

image003

 

For a spiral pattern, pinch the center of your shirt and twist. Once it’s fully twisted, rubber band it in “slices.” 

image004_blogcrop

 

  1. 4. Strain the dye materials out of your pot, drop in your shirts, and simmer for an hour. Let cool and rinse.

 

image005_blogcrop

 

  1. 5. If you’re using an iron mordant, now’s the time. Simmer 1 cup of your iron solution with water for 30 minutes (make sure you use enough water so that your shirts will be fully covered once you submerge them). Remove the solution from heat and dip or submerge your shirts – iron works quickly so this may only take a few minutes. Rinse out.

 

  1. 6. Hang to dry in a shady spot, then wash your shirts with a pH neutral detergent again.

 

image006

 

  1. 7. Get excited to wear your new naturally dyed tees!

 

image007_blogcrop

**A few safety notes: As a general rule, it’s best not to use any pots or utensils for food after they’ve been used for dyeing. If using an iron mordant, keep solution out of reach of children and pets; avoid breathing steam from an iron bath and simmer in a well-ventilated area. Iron mordant can be safely disposed of down the drain in municipal areas. 

 

Once you’ve gotten this technique down, it’s easy to learn how to make natural dyes from plants and other food scraps—and the world is your oyster when it comes to things to dye. Think pillowcases, dish towels, cloth for wrapping gifts (a favorite sustainable trick—get instructions here). When sustainability meets creativity, everyone wins.

Processed with VSCO with j2 preset

Emma Fern is a textile artist living in Burlington, Vermont. Inspired by the stories and traditions of her Appalachian ancestors, she calls upon the sustainability of age-old techniques like natural dyeing to create contemporary textiles. She’s launching her upcycled clothing line, CNTR, this summer. Follow along on Instagram @cntrcntr

Clothes are Holes: How To Fix Different Types of Holes in Clothing

We’ve all felt the sting of a fresh rupture in one our most beloved garments. As Stanley Yelnats learns in Holes (a Toad favorite), “the first hole is the hardest.” But no matter how big or small, a hole doesn’t mean that your favorite wardrobe piece is forever relegated to laundry day and late night frozen yogurt runs (or worse – the landfill). If there was anything to learn from the wisdom of Sachar’s coming to age masterpiece, it’s to live in the moment and take each hole as it comes. 

That’s why we’ve assembled this quick and easy video guide on how to repair a tear in fabric of all types:

How to fix a hole in a sweater elbow:

How to fix a hole in the inner thigh of jeans:

How to fix a big hole in a shirt:

How to fix a hole in leggings:

How to fix an iron burn hole:

How to fix a hole in a down jacket:

How to fix a hole in a sock:

Because when you really think about it, “clothes are actually just holes.”

 

And if you’re looking for repairs that go well beyond holes, check out our how-to guide on sewing buttons, hemming pants by hand, and more. 

We’re all about whatever it takes to keep clothing out of the landfills. And if that means sending your clothes to someone else to repair, we’re OK with that too. Learn more about how this works through our partnership with Renewal Workshop

How to Fix Your Clothes

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: clothes don’t belong in landfills. Wear it out, or pass it on. We’re big fans of using what you’ve got and mending your clothes when they’re a little worse for the wear.

A good rule of  thumb is to buy durable, well crafted clothes that won’t fall apart after a few wears and washings. Next, follow the wash instructions – most things last longer when washed in cold water and air dried. When you come across something that needs mending or altering, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Here’s how to fix your clothes, so no excuses! 

How to Sew a Button

 

How to Hem Pants By Hand

How to Cut a Raw Hem

How to Mend a Seam

How to Fix a Broken Zipper

How to Repair a Hole in a Sweater

How to Repair Your Jeans

How to Fix a Hole in a T-Shirt

How to Hem on a Sewing Machine

Polybags Suck

Polybags suck. Something we can all agree on, right?

We hate plastic as much as you do. But the prevalence of the notorious polybag is a reality we face in the clothing industry. That little bag your clothes showed up in is key to keeping them safe from damage during transit, warehousing, and shipping. Without them, much of the product would arrive damaged and then comes the big, bad L word (aka it ends up in a landfill).

We are always working to make the best decisions for the environment and for our customers, and – real talk – the polybag that each garment is wrapped in is currently our biggest challenge.

Here’s what we’re doing to address it.

  • •Since the beginning, we’ve made our polybags from recycled plastic.
  • •A few years ago, we audited our bags to reduce the amount of plastic used. We made the bags as thin as we possibly could and reduced the overall average size.
  • •We removed the individual polybags completely from all shipments of samples sent to HQ – and are working with other key partners to ship their products without polybags.
  • •We’re currently in the middle of another audit that will lead to less, and even smaller, polybags in future seasons.
  • •We’re constantly thinking creatively about how to get a second or third life from the bags. We moved the little ventilation holes up to the top of the bag so that it can be reused as a doggy pick-up bag or for your dirty clothes on a weekend getaway (keep reading for more on that).

 

CROP_Poly-bag-doodooDSC09692

But what about alternatives?

The short answer: The current alternative options just don’t match up to our sustainability requirements. And there isn’t enough research yet to prove that alternative options are actually better.

Here’s the long answer: Believe it or not, alternative materials (like compostable plastic) are often not as awesome as they sound. Most compostable plastics (this goes for cups and silverware too) can only be composted in industrial compost facilities, which are rare in the U.S. And even if they make it as far as an industrial composter, they take much longer to break down than the true organic waste. What does this mean?

  • •This can end up causing issues like slowing down the turnover of the facility by causing employees to pull out the compostable plastics to put them back in with the next load of organic waste. Sometimes this takes 5-6 cycles before the plastic is fully broken down!
  • •Often the compostable plastics are thrown into the recycle stream where they can ruin processing machines, so in most places the presence of compostable plastics often cause the whole batch of recycling to be sent to the landfill.
  • •Even when the compostable plastics do fully break down, their presence can degrade the rest of the compost in the batch because they break down into a sticky, resin-y mess. This creates poor compost that’s not rich or nutritious for plants (like compost from truly organic materials is).

 

We promise to keep an eye on alternatives and are constantly evaluating how they stack up to what we’re currently doing. And while we’re always working to REDUCE the amount of plastic, here are some ideas for how you can REUSE the bags in the meantime.

CROP_Poly-bag-doodooDSC09711

  • 1) Dog poop bag. Done and done.
  • 2) Store your phone, wallet, and keys when hiking in the rain. Keep bags on hand to cover your muddy shoes before you get back into your car.
  • 3) A simple starter pot for plants: Fold down the bag until it’s as tall as you want the soil to be, poke a few holes in the bottom, fill with soil, and plant your seeds.
  • 4) Scoop cat litter with leftover bags or use one to line the litter box.
  • 5) Hang a cedar closet bag (fill a bag with cedar chips, tie it closed, then poke several small holes in the bottom with a safety pin) to repel moths. Or fill the bag with flower petals, crushed fragrant leaves, and a couple of drops of aromatic oil for an easy DIY sachet to freshen up musty drawers.
  • 6) Fill a bag with distilled white vinegar (a couple of inches below the vent holes), then tie it around your showerhead to remove soap scum and mildew.
  • 7) Cover fragile plants with plastic bags if you detect frost on the way. Same goes for outdoor padlocks in the winter to keep them from freezing.
  • 8) Replace bubble wrap with plastic bags when mailing packages. You can use the same trick when packing away breakable holiday decorations.
  • 9) Use the plastic to stuff winter boots or bags you don’t use in the summer to help them keep their shape.
  • 10) Put plastic bags under furniture you’re painting. They also work great for protecting tables and counters when kiddos are doing craft projects.

 

CROP_Poly-bag-doodooDSC09669

And of course, we’re always looking for other ways to cut back on waste, like by making clothes from recycled plastic and offering reusable shippers. Because just like you, every step we take counts!

 

How to Make Simple Syrup

It’s called “simple” for a reason. No matter how fancy they sound, they all boil down to water and sugar… boiled down. Kick up any drink with these 6 simple syrup recipes. Enjoy responsibly with friends.

Basic Simple Syrup

Need: 1 cup water, 1 cup granulated white sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes until sugar dissolves. Cool immediately. Store in the fridge for a month or freeze forever. Use in any cocktail to sweeten things up!

Hibiscus Grapefruit

Need: 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup whole dried hibiscus flowers, 1/4 cup sugar, and peels from half a grapefruit. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, then strain and chill. Great with mezcal or tequila.

Cinnamon Syrup

Need: 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, a couple of cinnamon sticks. You know the drill – bring to a boil, then add cinnamon sticks. Simmer 2-3 mins, then remove and chill. Great in an old fashioned or bourbon.

Rosemary Syrup

Need: 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 or 2 rosemary sprigs. Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 3 mins until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool for 30 mins. Strain (or just remove remove rosemary) and chill. Great in greyhounds or palomas (or any cocktail with grapefruit juice).

Habanero Simple Syrup

Need: 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 2 habanero peppers, quartered. Bring sugar and water to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Add peppers and reduce heat to low, simmer about 15 minutes (or longer if you like it spicy!). Remove from heat and let cool for 1 hour. Strain and chill. Pairs well with vodka or in a margarita.

Turmeric Simple Syrup

Need: 1 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, a big thumb’s worth of fresh ginger root (peeled and sliced), 1 tsp turmeric powder. Bring water, sugar and ginger to a boil and simmer for 10 mins (if it’s not sweet enough, add a touch more sugar or a dollop of honey). Stir in turmeric until it’s dissolved. Strain through a coffee filter and chill. Tastes amazing in margaritas or screwdrivers.

Now we just need a good view and a good book

@shotsoflouis making us thirsty in Marrakesh

20 Reusable Everyday Items

Helping save the planet may sound like a superhero-sized task, but everyone can do their part to keep the Mothership clean. Our New Year’s resolutions reminded us to “reduce, reuse, recycle” with an extra emphasis on REDUCE and REUSE. Recycling is great but there are some untold complications (like high energy use and lack of recycling centers). The best solution is reducing what you use in the first place and reusing the things that you already have. Here are 20 reusable items – superhero powers not required.

    1. 1. Beer bottles: Repurpose old beer bottles as funky new string lights. Or, use an old bottle as a soap dispenser.
    2. 2. Wine corks: Fill an old jar (reusable items x2!) with old wine corks and 90% rubbing alcohol; let the corks soak for a week. What you’ll get is flammable corks for an easy, non-toxic fire starter. (Just make sure to use all-natural corks; no one wants to breathe in synthetic fumes.)
    3. 3. Tea bags: There are an endless amount of opportunities for reusing tea bag herbs: in homemade soaps or air fresheners, to feed your garden, de-grease dirty dishes, shine glass, renew wood furniture, and to treat burns, rashes, and infections. You can use old tea bags to add flavor to food (like jasmine tea to rice or cinnamon tea to oatmeal), and spruce up a bourbon or vodka cocktail with a little herbal somethin-somethin.
    4. 4. An old toolbox: This is possibly our favorite camping hack. Fill an old tool box with spices, pantry staples, utensils, mini bottles of booze, whatever you want in your camp kitchen kit.S19_Day_2_32_Group_Yurt_0138
    5. 5. Used coffee filters: Just to be clear, you CAN reuse coffee filters for more than one brew if you dump the grinds out. You can also rub dark shoes with used filters to make them shine again. To dispose, compost or stick them in your garden, grounds and all.
    6. 6. Coffee cans: Embrace the Kondo Method and use old coffee cans to collect all that random junk that’s accumulating. Already de-cluttered? Make indoor or outdoor planters from old cans. Or, a rusty colander comes ready-made with holes and needs barely any work to become the perfect planter.
  1. 7. Beer/Soda can tabs: Use a can tab to hook two hangers together, creating double the storage for hanging clothes. Small closets rejoice!
  2. 8. Old condiment bottles: Fill one old condiment bottle with pancake batter and one with eggs (un-shelled, obviously) for a quick camp breakfast. Best enjoyed outside with a side of bacon.
  3. 9. Egg cartons: It’s like they were designed specifically for growing seedlings. Plant a few seeds in each cup until they sprout into seedlings, then replant. (Bonus hack: let a few of your best plants go to seed and save the seeds for the following season.) If you don’t have a green thumb, reuse egg cartons as packing materials or donate them to local farmers.
  4. 10. Food scraps: There are zillions of ways to prevent food waste (we’re fans of Save The Food for endless ideas), but here are some Toad faves: season potato peelings and sauté for a crunchy and addictive snack; mix and match leftover veggies to make savory scones; and use strawberry tops for a refreshing Rosé Granita cocktail. Citrus peels infused with white vinegar make a nontoxic, smells-so-fresh, cleaning solution.
  5. 11. Jars: The poster child for reusable items. Reuse jars for leftovers, homemade sauces (see #10 for ideas), bulk dried goods, and pre-fab lunches. Pro tip: When freezing liquids, don’t seal the jar until contents are completely frozen or the jar will break.
  6. 12. Gallon jugs: Forget the bags of ice, fill an old gallon jug with water and freeze. That giant “ice pack” will keep your camp cooler just as cold. Bonus: You can use the water for drinking, cooking, or washing when it melts.
  7. 13. Prescription bottles: The perfect size for a mini first aid kit. Be a hero when you have band-aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, and allergy meds on hand.
  8. 14. Empty laundry detergent dispenser: Fill with water, flip upside down, and you’ve got a camp hand and dish-washing station. Bungee your paper towel roll to the top for even more glamp-tastic efficiency.
  9. 15. Fabric scraps:  Like food, there’s a lot you can do with old fabric scraps. Here at Toad, we recycle them into new clothes. For minimal effort: use fabric scraps to wrap gifts. For more DIY, here are 100 fun projects.wrapping header
  10. 16. Bathroom items: When looking for things that can be reused, your bathroom is a great place to start. Old toothbrushes make great scrubbers for grout and hard to reach places. Empty toothpaste tubes can be repurposed as frosting tubes (cut the end off and clean them well!). Fill empty deodorant bottles with your own DIY deodorant. And when you finish a bottle of product, opt for a place like The Refill Shoppe that will fill up old containers with new shampoo/conditioner/etc.
  11. 17. Cereal liner bags: Lots of ways to keep these pesky little bags out of the trash. Make a piping bag for frosting, use the bag to store leftovers, or use the bag to crush crackers, nuts, cereal and more without making a huge mess.
  12. 18. Vintage camera: Turn a camera into a cool lamp. You’ll need an old camera, a few small tools, and a couple of free hours.
  13. 19. Sunglasses cases: Not just for glasses. Storage for reusable utensils, makeup, and anything else that you don’t want getting lost in the fray.
  14. 20. Old skis: The great and powerful shotski. As far as we’re concerned, a group shot-taking tool is the only use. Instructions for building one here.

Do you have more tips for reusing and up-cycling? Let us know, we’re suckers for living sustainably.

Spread the Love

With many embracing it, some downright denouncing it, and others indifferent, the only thing we know for sure is Valentine’s Day is approaching at a rapid pace. It happens every year. You look up from Christmas and New Years, ready to catch your breath and BAM! Valentine’s day hits you with a frantic mid-week dinner reservation and a hefty expedited flower delivery receipt. We say it’s time to reset the dial on all Valentine’s days expectations, and focus on what’s really important: spreading the love!

Drought_tolerant_edit

What says I love you more than a Valentine’s Day card made from re-purposed desk supplies? We searched high and low in our office for the most card worthy desk decorators, and spruced up some old resume paper to look like the real deal. And although these Valentines turned out pretty darn well if we do say so, we did our best to drive home our true take on the day: it’s a lot more about the love you are spreading than the cards you are giving.

So this Valentine’s day, take it upon yourself to spread the love. Whether it’s making a slightly blue coworker smile, or just letting that fellow motorist merge in front of you versus the old box out, embrace the spirit of Valentine’s Day by spreading love to everyone, regardless of relationship status. And don’t forget, true love can just as easily be relayed through sticky-note hearts and a half drank bottle of tequila.

DSC00272_edit

Spreading the love comes in many shapes and sizes. Recently, our little community on the central coast of California was struck by not one, but two, natural disasters. Although the disasters are over and the news trucks are gone, there are many people who could still use your help. If you’d like to spread your love to the people of Montecito, please donate to this link to help out a community facing a long road to recovery.