Sustainability and coffee: Reusable DIY filter

Approaching sustainability over a pour-over: Reusable DIY filter 

For most of us, the first logical move in our effort to ‘go green’ is switching to more sustainable and compostable products. As a less harmful option compared to using polluting ones it is a step forward, still, it is buying products and using resources that could be avoided in the first place. Not to mention that most of the items we use do not go to composting or recycling.

The next-best solution would be finding a reusable replacement for a single use item. Due to us being so influenced by modern day single-use society, by all advertisement and consumerism this can sometimes feel like a “weird” idea at first. In most cases, this is as simple as going back to what people use to do/use before we introduced a single-use version. 

Ultimately, when possible we can look into completely eradicating the need for the particular product (habit). I think of it as an exciting concept, with a lot of possible benefits. Other than being utterly more sustainable, for us and the environment, minimalism and simplifying help us regain a conscious approach towards our routines and habits. 

One of the habits I am currently omitting only occasionally is my coffee ritual. After having tried all the delicious, inherently waste-free ways to brew coffee, I am still a pour over-lover. In alignment with my waste reduction efforts, I decided to stop buying paper coffee filters. At the same time, I bumped into a post on reusable coffee filters on Remodelista web. Excited about that product idea, I wondered come the use of fabric coffee filters had not become the standard practice already. And I realized that it was before until we all fell victims to the disposable society mindset. All these times that I’d been having coffees, I did not think about this consciously.  

After my first consumerist urge to go after the fabric filter immediately, my DIY spirit kicked in and I decided I could make one myself.

Only when I started testing the “dripping rate” with different organic hemp and cotton fabrics did I realize how bad my pour over technique was. Thus, I decided to look into those a bit more. As a result, this whole project became even more rewarding. I still need to improve the pouring, but I managed to get satisfying results using my filter. The ultimate test will be taking it to my favorite coffee place (as I never found a place with a tastier pour over) and ask their barista to make my coffee with my filter. I will let you know how it goes :).

Initially, I planned to sew and make a V60 shaped filter. Then, I remembered some folded Chemex filters I’d once bought and I thought that could be a better model to mimic. It would be much easier to make and possibly more practical as it could be used for both V60 and Chemex. Moreover, I would avoid the stitches on the usable filter area.

I’ve tested different organic cotton and hemp fabrics. I went for the hemp one as it gave me the best results when it comes to dripping rate and flavor. In addition, hemp fabric is much more sustainable to produce (compared to cotton), it is more durable than cotton and it is naturally antibacterial.

I wouldn’t be able to say precisely which combination of factors (weight and density) you should go for. I suggest you do your own empirical research, test different fabrics you have available and find one that gives you the most satisfying result.

Step 1  Cut the fabric into 15x15cm squares. 

Step 2  Boil them to remove any impurities or dust, and to ensure it will shrink now rather than when the filter is done.

Step 3  Once you have decided on the fabric you can stop at this step. However, I suggest doing at least some kind of edging at the seams. Otherwise, the fabric might unravel.

Step 4  Cut in a desired shape (optional). I decided to cut and shape my filters before edging (one in a round shape and one in a flower shape). I did this by folding it in 4 and marking the quarter of the circle by hand. Use a round shape dish or plate for more precision.

Step 5  Edge with a sewing machine or by hand.

Step 7  Boil the filter again to get rid of any leftover impurities.

all photos by Mili

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Recycling old clothes: DIY rag cushions

Recycled fabric DIY cushions: A simple makeover for stools

When my desire to manage my waste, clothes included, met my “projects to do” list, I thought that a rag rug project would be the perfect idea for a pile of unusable clothes that I had cleared from my wardrobe.

I committed to this laborious task for the sake of making a promise to myself to be more conscious about consumption and waste management. Luckily, my friend Lucia offered to help. With some nice music in the background we had an amazing, pleasant afternoon: talking, sharing and laughing. As my friend Hind would say, we spent an afternoon in craft meditation. The results were: new cushions for my upcycled stools, a deal to repeat the same again (which we did as I had more scraps) and thoughts on how to do it even better next time.

Take this idea and your unusable clothes or textile scraps and make your rugs, bath mats, seat cushions or sofa throws… Maybe you even have a better idea. Send us pictures! There are many creative suggestions on how to use fabric waste on the internet. I chose some of the options I liked the most and shared them in the DIY IDEAS in this post. I also saved more examples in my clothes recycling ideas album on Pinterest. 

For the base of these cushions, we took bath mat material with holes in it and cut it in the shape of the stool seat. To make the scraps, we cut old clothes in pieces of aprox. 1.5cm x 12-15cm. Then we just pulled the scraps through the holes leaving both ends on the top side. Because the material was quite dense, we didn’t even have to make knots to fix the scraps in place. 

Having chosen a non-slip mat, there was no need to attach the cushion to the stool. It stays put. The disadvantage of using this kind of mats (other than them being made of a sort of plastic) is that you cannot sew it to another piece of fabric in order to add more volume or create a sofa cushion for example. Moreover, I would never suggest buying new material for a project that is supposed to be about recycling unless it’s absolutely necessary. Thus, I immediately started thinking about alternatives and realized that there are other good options: use any kind of available mash or fabric that has gaps or holes throughout.

I used an old sweater as a base for the next project. It was definitely easier to get the scraps through the holes. However, each scrap needed to be secured with a knot. In the end, the time I saved passing the scraps through I lost tying the knots. The advantage of using this as a base (besides it being a 100% recycled project) is that you can sew it to another fabric and also adapt it to different kinds of furniture pieces (and sizes). I will show the full HOW TO in that project post.

Photos by Mili

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WELCOME TO MY NEW PAGE

Welcome to my new web page and blog

Welcome to my new web page where I share the content that emerges through my creative work and my efforts to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. I hope the blog will inspire you to take ownership of your own life & style choices. I believe that if we all make small steps towards more sustainable and meaningful lives, together we can achieve a better and less contaminated environment.

I started this journey some time ago, amazed by the many incredible people and ideas I found on the web, wishing to make a creative and inspiring virtual space of my own. What I built then was meant to be my own version of a fashion and accessories blog.

Yet, I wasn’t “happy” with what I had created. My main aim was to share styles that included original and handmade fashion pieces. I intended to promote different brands beyond what was overly advertised and I wanted to include ideas and suggestions of my own. Only after I started blogging did I realize how unsustainable my endeavor was going to be. Also, I thought about how unrealistic it would be for the average person to actually follow a fashion blogger lifestyle. I found myself generating OUTFIT posts that didn’t really seem meaningful to me. At the same time, I was buying and collecting items that I didn’t give much use to, even though I loved them. My blog, which was meant to be different, turned out to be just another fashion blog in the end.

As a result, I reassessed my approach and reclaimed my personal values. I brought my lifestyle and behavior in line with the things that truly matter to me, and I decided to change the focus of my blog. I can still share ideas and products, but I don’t have to own them or wear them all. I can still encourage people to shop less or make smarter choices when shopping, but I can also give them ideas on how to experiment, improvise and achieve more with what they already have.

Rather than searching for a style, I am striving to curate my life. 

photo by Carlos Kesgo

necklace by Norma Rinaudo

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Improvise a bedside table

Improvise a bedside table

Many think that a nicely decorated apartment would usually imply a lot of expenses and resources. And often for this reason, we don’t put any effort into making our interiors look good and inviting. This happens mainly with rentals, especially if we are not planing to stay there for long. Once I started moving often, I faced the challenge: how not to invest too much but still make my new temporary apartment beautiful and homelike.

If you need a new (bed) side table, here I have an easy and affordable idea. By simply combining a ceramic pot and a wooden serving tray, I solved my bedside corner with a new round table that has storage space within. Inside, I can keep next to the bed all the things I need that I don’t like to display such as notes, phone chargers or hand cream.

Plus, this idea can also be used as a side table or as a stool with storage for your living room, the entry hall or even the bathroom.. Check out the elements I’ve used in the HOW TO section.

 

Here’s a list of the elements I’ve combined for this decoration project with a brief explanation about why I’ve selected them.

big ceramic pot: ceramic has a classy and elegant finish. Made out of natural materials, it’s very durable if you take care of it. I chose a pot that had a similar height to that of the bed and, also, the necessary top diameter to accommodate the few things I wanted to place on top. I like the idea of using a pot instead of a chest of drawers or a convectional side table. It’s refreshing, more flexible and, most importantly of all, a good temporary fix. Be it until you move again, decide to change decorations or go for a more permanent solution. When you want to get rid of it, it’s easier to move, repurpose or even sell. After all, you didn’t have to invest too much in it anyways and guess what… you can always decide to use it as a pot🙂

wooden serving tray: I found this one that had a round base with a smaller diameter underneath. This allows me to move it a bit and make a gap when taking and putting things inside the pot without removing the whole surface. At the same time, this additional layer prevents it from sliding off completely. If you plan to use a different round surface, I’d suggest you put some screws or wooden elements on the inner side (on the perimeter of the inner pot edge) that will keep the tray in place, preventing it from sliding sideways.

fairy LED lights: they look amazing! Easy to find, they are affordable, very efficient and long-lasting. You can just place them in a pot or a jar, or give them any shape you want by wrapping them around basically anything. There are a lot of ideas on Pinterest. If you choose the correct one, it will even be good for reading and as a dim light to see around the room at bedtime. They create a very relaxing and cosy atmosphere. Plus, they can be battery powered so you can use them even if you don’t have a power outlet close by.

small pots: for the plant and the lights, I decided to use ceramic pots from the same collection: same color, just different texture. Having few decorative elements like these keeps it almost monochromatic, simple and neat.

cute plant: it’s not just a nice decorative element, it also brings a bit of life to the room!

All photos by Mili

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Upcycled bar stools

Upcycled bar stools

When I moved into a new apartment with an open kitchen, I decided it was time to get bar stools. But when you´re living in a rental, especially in a city that will not be home forever, you tend to think twice about each decision when it comes to furnishing the apartment. I needed to feel at home in my new place and I wanted to decorate it the way I like it, but I wanted to minimize the costs. Instead of buying new things and consuming more, I wanted to use what was already available.

My bar stools project started with looking at designs and products in the internet. Of course, I made my inspirational bar stools board on Pinterest that you can see HERE.

The next step was checking second hand options on the local buy and sell portals. That was when I had to face reality. Most of the good stools were too expensive compared to what I was planning to spend. The rest were typical mass production ones that we’ve seen so many times in so many places and, of course, they were not of my taste. The only possible solution, which happens to be my favourite, was upcycling those “plain and boring” stools.

I got an excellent deal for a pair of chairs that look like the ones in the picture: someone was moving out and getting rid of the excess. I’ve seen a number of DIY posts and tutorials on how to make those more “appealing” and I have to say that a lot were very cool and neat as upcycled better versions. However, because I wanted something slightly different, I decided to do a bit more than just a mere cosmetic change. You can see the result below.

I hope you like this quick and easy DIY project for my kitchen and be inspired to do the same or something similar. Send me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.

 

To start with, I removed the backrest and I painted the structure. I wanted to change the seat, and I was planning to use wood for it. In keep with the upcycling approach, the idea was to find a wooden item that I could repurpose. That led me to cutting boards, and… I found the perfect bamboo ones! They were inexpensive, already treated, just the right size and with shaped edges. Plus, the color was a perfect match for the kitchen and living room palette. No cutting or crafting needed! I just had to remove the small hanging ring.

Although the stools looked amazing as they were, I made cushions for them. To make the inner cushion, I used an old bed linen for the case and and old pillow for the filling. To make the cushion case, I used a table cloth I’d bought in Ecuador: I loved it’s colorful ethnic pattern and I thought it might be a good idea to use it in one of my projects. In any case, I’ve seen other interesting ideas and I’m planing to make another pair of cushions. A change in the look of the bar from time to time is always good!

BEFORE photo > Google image search

All the rest of the photos by Mili

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