DIY Sustainability Projects

Grab some supplies and get outside to create these two inexpensive projects that can help you save resources and money. The best part? All you need are a few supplies and some large garbage cans!

How to Create a Compost Bin

1. Collect All Materials

This is one of the cheaper DIYs you can make. Here’s what you’ll need to pick up:

  • Large plastic garbage can
  • A drill
  • 2 bungee cords


2. Drill Air Holes

Use a drill bit that’s large enough to allow a lot of air in but small enough to keep your compost from falling out of the can. Drill 10-15 holes on each ‘side’ of the garbage can for the most air, then drill several holes on the lid of the garbage can.

3. Fill With Brown Material

Add some brown compost material from around the yard to your barrel. This can include dead leaves, pine needles, twigs, and dirt. Spray the mixture with some water to get the compost damp.

NOTE: Make sure to learn the proper rations for green to brown compost before adding your kitchen scraps to the mixture.

4. Secure the Lid and Roll!

Secure the lid of the trash can with two bungee cords and roll the can around your lawn every few days to mix everything up. Store your can in a sunny area to help the materials break down more quickly.

DIY Rain Barrel

A simple rain barrel is a great way to collect rainwater to use for your garden. According to the EPA, collecting rainwater can save the average homeowner 1,300 gallons of water in summer alone!

Collect All Materials

The materials for this DIY are pretty simple:

  • Plastic garbage can (whatever size you prefer)
  • A tube of watertight sealant
  • Landscaping fabric
  • A hose clamp
  • A spigot
  • A drill
  • 2 metal washers
  • 2 rubber washers

Create an Exit for Water

Drill a hole close to the bottom of your rain barrel to create an access point for you to get the water. Make sure you keep the hole at a good height for you to fit a watering can (or any other receptacle you use to water your garden) underneath it.

Insert Spigot

Grab your spigot and add a metal washer followed by a snug rubber washer to hold the metal washer in place and prevent leaks.

Seal Everything Up!

Apply waterproof sealant to a rubber washer and insert your spigot into the drilled hole. Allow the sealant to dry, then grab another rubber and a metal washer and run them onto the threads of the spigot inside the barrel.

Secure the spigot with a hose clamp inside your barrel to ensure that it stays put.

Create Entry and Exit Holes

Cut a hole in the lid of your trash can. Measure your downspout to ensure the hole is the right size and can get most of (or all) the water the flows from your downspout. Drill a second and third hole near the top of the barrel to allow excess water to overflow.

If you’re going to connect two barrels to hold even more water, run some PVC piping from the overflow hole to another barrel.

Seal the Top

Place a scrap of fabric over the top of the barrel and put the lid on top of it to seal off the water from mosquitoes or other insects who are attracted to standing water.

Place Your Rain Barrel

Put your rain barrel underneath your downspout to collect water every time it rains. Consider placing your barrel on a raised platform to make it easier to fill your watering can!

NOTE: Rainwater collection is legal in California thanks to the Rainwater Capture Act of 2012, but that’s not the case everywhere. Make sure to check your local guidelines to ensure you’re following all regulations and safety ordinances while harvesting rainwater.

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