Since my trash-free year is coming to a close, I spent last week tying up some trashy loose ends.

Cheese Wheel Wax Candles
Answering my call for trash-free cheese, this past March my sister sent me a cheese wheel and cheese brick for my birthday.  After eating the very delicious aged milk product, I wondered what to do with the wax it came in.  Although some websites claim that cheese wheel wax can be composted, I thought it would be more fun and resourceful to see if I could make candles out it.  So, I threw the wax in a couple of Ziplock bags and tossed them to the side for a trash-free project down the road.  After a little searching last week, I found one bag of wax in the corner of our refrigerator produce drawer and another bag in our cupboard.  My sister happened to be in town, so together we followed an instructional website for Cheese Wax Tea Lights and, mostly with ease, created candles from what remained from her birthday present to me.

Materials for cheese wax tea lights

I acquired a handful of expired tea light containers from my best friend on a recent visit to the mainland so the only material I had to purchase for this project was the cotton string.  Before melting the wax, my sister and I prepared these tea light containers and wicks by removing the wick holder, reopening the hole for the wick with a pliers, inserting a two-inch piece of cotton string through the hole and re-clamping the hole with the pliers.

Preparing the wick and candle container

Preparing the wick and tea light container

We then put the green wax in a plastic ziplock bag and set it in boiling water to melt.  Once it was melted, we poured it into the tea light containers.

Melting wax in bag

Melting the wax

pouring the wax

Pouring the wax

To create a wick we dipped the cotton string three times into the melted wax.  The wicks cooled quickly and we placed them into the soft candle wax before it cooled.

Dipping wick three times

Dipping wick three times

In the end we made six new candles, however, because the black wax was more difficult to work with, only four candles were worthy of a photograph.

Four photogenic cheese wax candles

Four photogenic cheese wax candles

Cheese wheel wax reborn

Cheese wheel wax reborn

I would not recommend melting the wax in a plastic bag.  We lost a lot of the black wax because the plastic bag itself melted and leaked the wax into the water.  Other options would be to either melt the wax in a tin can or float the tea lights containers on the water and melt the wax directly into them.

Dryer Lint Clay
Every week when I do laundry I feel guilty piling more and more dryer lint into our already over-flowing container dedicated to collecting the fuzzy left-overs.  In my Week 30 : Reuse to Reduce post, I mentioned a couple of ideas I found for dealing with dryer lint – fire kindling and offering it to birds for their nests.  Dryer lint does work well to start a fire, but unfortunately, my boyfriend and I don’t go camping enough to keep up with all the lint we produce.  In the blog post I also shared my unsuccessful attempts of  passing off my dryer lint trash burden to the local bird population.  Despite these set backs, I think I may have found a solution to reducing my dryer lint footprint – dryer lint pottery!

The basic dryer lint clay recipe calls for few ingredients – lint, water, flour and wintergreen oil.  Since I had lemon oil I used it in place of the wintergreen oil, which I do not own.  (This may have been a mistake, because my final pieces do not smell very pretty).

Lint clay ingredients

Lint clay ingredients

The first step is to add the water to the lint in a pot, completely saturating it.  Then you slowly add flour, mixing it into the lint.  As you can imagine, lint is not easy to mix.  When I made a second batch of clay, I tore up the lint into small pieces before mixing it with the water and flour.  This made mixing a lot easier.

Add water to the lint

Add water to the lint

Add flour to lint

Add flour to lint

After adding the few drops of oil, you need to spend a long time stirring the mixture under low heat until it all “combines.”  When the flour and water and lint finally combine, the mixture will feel slightly slimy, soft and it will lose its clumpy shape.

Mixing lint clay

Mixing lint clay

Spread out to dry

Spread clay out to cool

Wet dryer lint clay

Wet dryer lint clay

Since the lint mixture is extremely hot, the directions suggest laying it out on newspaper or parchment paper to cool before using.  Once it is cool to the touch, you can take the clay and create various shapes using molds.  I tried a variety of mold sizes and materials.

Lint pottery ready to dry

Lint pottery ready to dry

The directions say that it takes between three to five days for the clay to dry, which was just about accurate.  As I eluded to earlier, the pieces began to smell a little sour.  Once completely dry, the lint clay lost most of this scent.

Out of the entire batch, two pieces dried and came off their molds easily.  I used a plastic Tupperware as a mold for the bowl and a mini-plastic wine bottle mold for the vase-looking piece.

Lint clay pottery successes

Lint clay pottery successes

Lint pottery bowl close-up

Lint pottery bowl close-up

Two pieces did not easily come off their molds.  One mold was a Nancy’s yogurt container and the other a cardboard box.

Nancy's yogurt container is not a good mold for lint clay

A Nancy's yogurt container is not a good mold for lint clay

cardboard box mold

Neither is a cardboard box

And one piece actually grew mold!   That one may end up in my compost.

Lint clay peice with mold

Lint clay pottery growing mold

I used six cups of dryer lint for this project, cutting my total lint accumulated thus far in half.  Despite the few failed pieces, I plan to make more dryer lint pottery in the future – with the inclusion of the magical Wintergreen oil.

Toms Toothpaste Tubes
Toothpaste has been one of the most difficult things to continue to use without creating trash.  Since I had stocked up on toothpaste at COSTCO prior to the start of my trash-free year I will not end up with many toothpaste tubes in my trash bag at the end of the year.  I did, however, want to follow-up on a Tom’s aluminum toothpaste tube I mentioned in my Week 6: Pondering Packaging post.  Since the tube is aluminium I wondered if it would be accepted at a recycling facility like aluminum cans and foil.

Time to recycle Toms toothpast tube

Time to recycle Toms toothpaste tube

To prepare it for recycling, removed the one plastic part of the toothpaste tube using a pair of pliers.

Preparing Tom's aluminum tube for recycling

Preparing Tom's aluminum tube for recycling

I then unfolded the aluminum which easily opened up and washed out the remaining toothpaste.

Rinsing out the tube

Rinsing out the tube

I dropped the empty toothpaste tube onto the top of my bag of aluminum foil and took it to the recycling center.  The recycling center staff took the tube with no questions asked.  Success!  Of course, this is a moot point for the longterm since Tom’s of Maine has stopped using aluminum toothpaste tubes.  It is a reminder, however, that sometimes more things than we may think can be accepted for recycling.