Upcycling: Keep the old & turn it into something new

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Off-grid, Upcycling, reusing, green,

Upcycling refashions the old into something new!

We live in a throw-away society. A culture based on how much “stuff” we have. The media gears our life towards replacing things because it’s fashionable rather than because we actually need to. It is also causing us to rush headlong into a lack of natural resources.

Recycling is of course an option to help combat the use of natural resources. But that requires more energy and water to break down a product into its base materials before remaking it into something else, normally of lower quality.

Upcycling however is completely green.

It’s not about breaking things down, but simply refashioning it into something new and of the same or perhaps even better quality. The conversion process means nothing gets sent to land fill, requires no extra energy (other than a little elbow grease on your part) and allows you to be creative. By reusing and upcycling products to perform different purposes to what they were intended, you are also saving money. Instead of going out and buying a brand new product, find something you are not using and use your creativity. Voila! Upcycling magic has occurred!

The complete opposite of consumer culture, more or less anything can be upcycled, from furniture to clothing to electronics – the only thing stopping you is your imagination. The same thing doesn’t have to be upcycled in the same way. Take a plastic bottle for instance; this could become a planter for the garden, a bird feeder, a lamp or anything else you can think of.

Old electronics, something that often gives us grief when trying to dispose of, can also be upcycled. Old smartphones can become alarm clocks, or if you’re tech savvy a smartwatch! An old school computer monitor can be cleared of internal wiring and become a fish tank! Or if you remove the screen itself, how about a cat bed? The fan in your old computer can be converted into a regular desk fan with a bit of know-how. Plus, if you’re a fashion fanatic how about some quirky keyboard letter cufflinks or earrings?

Upcycling also encompasses larger projects too.

How about wood pallets becoming a stylish piece of decking or front porch? Or how about going for the ultimate upcycle – a whole home!

Shipping containers are becoming a popular option to upcycle into a tiny home. Although you’re unlikely to come across these 8ft wide by 8ft tall containers for free (expect to pay around the $3000 mark for each one), they offer a good opportunity for an upcycle project! Rylan and Brook Naylor, took two of these containers and have converted them into a home. Although not completely off-grid they are hoping that in the coming years they will be.

Canadian Joseph Dupuis bought three shipping containers and did succeed in turning them into a 355 square foot off-grid home. Located 35 miles west of Ottawa Canada, Joseph’s off-grid container cabin is powered by a two kilowatt solar system and heated by a wood fire stove. The space is completely open plan and is designed to be dismantled, so it can be moved and erected in a new location. The whole project (excluding the solar system) cost Joseph $20,000. Having lived in his container cabin for two years, Joseph is looking to sell to give someone else a taste of upcycled off-grid living.

To have a guided tour by Joseph himself, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=njjz-xTs67M

The post Upcycling: Keep the old & turn it into something new appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Book: Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions

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See larger image Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions Fueled by a failing economy and a passionate desire for a return to simpler times, a new wave of homesteaders is seeking the Read More …

The post Book: Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

Bushcraft Simplified: The 1 Overlooked Skill You Need To Master First

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Bushcraft Simplified: The 1 Overlooked Skill You Need to Master First

Image source: Pixabay.com

Bushcraft, or the skills and knowledge to live in the wild, is seeing a huge growth in popularity these days.

This is evident not only due to the tremendous popularity of TV programs showcasing survival, but also from the rapid increase in books available on the topic, in bushcraft schools, and in the popularity of bushcraft videos on YouTube. It is plain to see that many Americans fully recognize the new era we have entered with our technology and realize a vast storehouse of fundamental knowledge is on the cusp of being forgotten.

Thankfully, they also recognize the value of ancestral knowledge. Droves of people realize this dilemma and wish to learn the foundational skills of our past.

With that said, bushcraft can seem like an enormous undertaking for a beginner. The task of learning all the skills, gaining all the wisdom, and bundling them together for full-fledged survival requires a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. This is especially true for people who are completely removed from the wild. Experienced bushcraft and survivalists such as Ray Mears, Les Stroud, Cody Lundin, Dave Canterbury, and so on possess so much understanding that the common working man can’t seem to hope to match them.

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Thankfully, bushcraft doesn’t necessarily require a full-blown Bushcraft University degree in order to be useful to the average person. Much of bushcraft boils down to one necessary skill, and then builds off that skill. To be sure, people who live immersed in the natural world gain encyclopedic knowledge of the plants, animals, systems and relationships of the world, and that takes time. However, until you reach that point, the most important skill you can have is the ability to be creative.

Bushcraft can seem like a series of disconnected skills, knowledge and practices. Part of this apparent disconnection is the way we get our information. Many people watch the aforementioned survivalists tackling new ecosystems every episode. On one episode they might be in the Amazon, the next in the Sahara, and then on a deserted island somewhere. These experts then typically showcase a few unique answers to the same fundamental questions every primitive society answered: How do we eat, get water, stay clothed, and stay out of the elements? In reality, that is not how bushcraft must work. I want to stress the fact that this is not a slam on those experts. In fact, to me it proves their incredible storehouse of knowledge. For most people, though, bushcraft simply isn’t that way.

Bushcraft requires creativity more than anything else, because once you understand some of the very basic concepts, it becomes the process of you looking around your own unique landscape and answering those basic questions with your available resources. There is an abundance of examples to support this idea.

Bushcraft Simplified: The 1 Overlooked Skill You Need to Master First

Image source: Pixabay.com

You can start by examining different aspects of Native American societies – moccasins, for example. People in the 500 diverse and independent nations who lived here before Columbus generally used footwear of some type. This generally, not always, required the knowledge of hide tanning. Once the hide was tanned, it was up to the creativity of the builder to create the best moccasin for their environment. Some were soft, some were stiff, some were short, others were tall. Some societies needed footwear for the desert and others for the arctic. The types of animals to be used were different, as well. Each tribe came up with creative answers for their particular region.

Homes are another example. People across the land needed a place to take refuge from the elements. Again, there are a few basic necessities that must be met. Shelters must be weatherproof, must be constructed with available materials, and must meet the unique demands of the environment. Other than that, shelters were created with a thousand creative answers to the single question. There were teepees, longhouses, wigwams, igloos, adobes, stone houses, wickiups and many other designs. It didn’t require a degree; it required a person to scan an environment, understand some basic knowledge, and then use their problem-solving brain to figure out the best way to build it. There isn’t one right answer in how to build a good shelter; there are a variety of answers depending on where you are and depending on your situation.

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Here is one final example: Prior to European contact, Native societies generally created projectile points out of stone, bone and wood. These were the best materials available and did the job nicely. After contact with Europeans, though, steel was introduced to these nations. The fondness certain Native societies developed for steel has been much studied and is easily apparent. People generally began to trade for steel points for a variety of reasons. What many people don’t realize, though, is that Native people actually began to build their own points and knives from scavenged steel — wagon wheels, barrels and various other objects made of steel would occasionally be discarded and left as litter. Once discovered by Native people, they could be processed to make the same steel points traders brought. In addition to steel, glass also was widely used, as it, too, was found in great volume. As a new resource hit the scene, creativity took over and people began to answer old questions in a new way.

This should not be viewed as a proclamation to avoid learning. There is a huge storehouse of knowledge to acquire in order to fully submerge yourself in the outdoors. Gaining that knowledge takes time — and the guidance of experienced people. That being said, once you understand the basic processes to make cordage, fire, points, shelters and other tools, the question becomes how do you apply that in your particular area?

As stated, there were 500 unique cultures in North America prior to European contact, and creativity created thousands of different answers to the same basic questions all people of the world face.

So the next time you find yourself absorbed in YouTube survival video, ask yourself: “How could I apply the same concept in my area?” Your creative answer might surprise even yourself.

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12 Strange and Creative Camping Tents

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12 Strange and Creative Camping Tents Check out these 12 strange and creative camping tents and see how the other half want to camp! 😉 The name says it all…. Some are just plain crazy but I can see some that would be really handy and cool to have. This post is just to see whats …

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The post 12 Strange and Creative Camping Tents appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Be creative, make it yourself!

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Be creative, make it yourself!
Brett Bauma “Makers On Acres

make Aquaponics_with_catfishOn the next episode of the Makers On Acres Tech, Build and Grow show we are going to be talking about getting creative and starting to make our own things for life.

2-13-16 Rankine_cycle_layoutMany of us have hands on talents, either from our past jobs, or just growing up in an era where it used to be taught.  On this episode, I am going to be discussing ways that we can take our creative ideas and start turning them into operable things.

On the last episode I talked about a steam powered generator. The steam powered generator is something I have been wanting to make for some time now and have not pulled the trigger on it yet.

2-13-16 800px-Pellet_Stove_burn_potSo what is the next step? How do I get this design out of my head, on paper, then ultimately running? We will talk about ways to design, and software that can be used to help you get your creations on paper. Once you get it on paper the next step will be getting your hands dirty and making it work.

I  dive into some of the tips and tricks for research, design, product sourcing and more. I also  discuss why it is important for us to hone our skills and learn to create our own things. If we are ever to be truly independent and self-reliant we need to know how to be creative and effective with our knowledge and skills.
Makers On Acres:Website: http://makersonacres.com/
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Listen to this broadcast or download “Be creative, make it yourself” in player below!

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