DIYdiy projectsHome Ec

Home Ec: 12 DIY Ideas for Earth Day

by Grace Bonney

Next Wednesday is Earth Day, so for this week’s Home Ec, I thought I’d focus on some ideas you can try around the house to conserve water, energy and materials. “Green” lists these days are often about buying more/new/better products, but for me, the best thing you can do for the planet is use more of the things you already have around you and find smarter ways to make them last longer or do double duty around the house. So these projects will be focused on reducing consumption, reusing what you already have, and recycling or upcycling things that may have otherwise been thrown away. I hope these help inspire some Earth Day projects around the house — and if you prefer to get outside and do something, the official Earth Day site has a great list of events happening all across the world if you want to get involved. xo, grace

*If you want some fun ideas of what to do for Earth Day in your own backyard, check out these great ideas for exploring what’s near you.


This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

DIY Candleholders and Match Boxes: Skip the store and make your own candleholders (and save some electricity during your next dinner) and match boxes with this clever project from Ashley English.
DIY Kitchen Garden: Turn any old box or drawer into an indoor herb garden. You can grow your own herbs and save a trip to the store - and save an old piece of furniture or storage from being tossed!
DIY Upcycled Notebooks: Instead of buying something new, use leftover wallpaper or gift wrap scraps to create everyday notebooks for classes, grocery shopping or other to-dos.
DIY Leather and Wood Shelves: Turn old belts and leftover wood scraps into small-space shelving and storage with this fun DIY.
DIY Dryer Yarn Balls: Instead of buying dryer sheets (which often contain harmful chemicals for you and the environment), make your own dryer balls using leftover wool yarn.
DIY Cleaners: Make your own natural home cleaners with this super-quick 10 second how-to video.
Plant a Tree!: One of the best things you can do to help the environment around you is plant native species. Whether you're planting trees, bushes or flowers, this tutorial will help you get started.
DIY Recycled Cake Stands: If you're doing a spring clean and want to purge some of your kitchen cabinet items, keep a few old plates and candlesticks around to create some cake stands! You can display anything you love, from plants and flowers to baked goods.
DIY Recycled Cardboard Cat Scratcher: Use old corrugated cardboard boxes to make something fun for the family pet. He or she will appreciate the new toy and you can turn old boxes into something new!
Recycled Wine Bottle Torch: This is easily one of the most popular DIYs we've ever posted on DS and it happens to use a recycled wine bottle. With summer right around the corner, this is a great way to create your own outdoor tiki torches with this spring's wine bottles.
Upcycled Barrel Planter: Turn old barrels or buckets into a planter for flowers, veggies or herbs with this DIY.
Recycled cardboard organizer: Use old cardboard from around the house to create this minimal office organizer, inspired by Vitra's Uten.Silo.

Suggested For You


  • “Instead of buying dryer sheets (which often contain harmful chemicals for you and the environment), make your own dryer balls using leftover cotton yarn.”

    This isn’t going to work, as the comments on the post about making dryer balls point out. Cotton doesn’t felt together to make balls. You need to use a non-superwash wool (or other animal fiber) yarn.

  • We made the wine torches an we couldn’t get them to work at all, once the wick burned down, we pulled up more of the wick and they won’t stay lit for anything. They ended up costing quite a bit, took a lot of time, disappointed.