Ok, here it is, as promised, the bed from recycled paint cans, sticky tape, and cardboard!
Let me make it clear, I am not trying to set myself up as some kind of self professed DIY guru (although maybe I should start a blog site called just that…) or trying to turn this blog site into a site about how to make things out of recycled stuff. Of course my daughter has visions of becoming an overnight internet sensation from this post. If enough people want a bed out of junk, maybe she will!
I am simply a mum living in a place where furniture is expensive, money is tight, and there is so much that is discarded that is actually useful. I am often a woman on the edge, wondering how I am going to maintain a lifestyle that I want the kids to have in a country like Fiji where money is always tight.
I am also concerned constantly with the perception here of what is actually “trash” or “rubbish” as once something is discarded it is immediately viewed as that. All of the paint cans, lids and cardboard that I used would have otherwise ended up in landfill, a problem for my kids to have to worry about in their lives – heavy metals, paints etc leaching into the mangroves and the sea. Living in an island nation in the middle of the Pacific, the prospect of an ocean full of toxins and rubbish, and void of fish is actually frightening. I have once seen a fridge floating in Suva Harbour.
Our live in family recently increased from me, my husband and one teenager; to me, my husband and three teenagers. The two new teenagers arrived from Australia with a suitcase each that was filled with nothing that is actually useful in Fiji a land of alternating mud and dust – no towels, no toothbrushes, no sheets, just video games and high heels it seemed to me. Frustration and despair got me nowhere, but I must admit I felt it keenly.
Anyway, with two extra kids, and no extra money or furniture, I had to pull myself together and see what I could come up with. If only I could work out a way to spin a towel or a sheet set from spiderwebs and butterfly tears, my world would be complete!
I didn’t, but I did manage with the help of my 15 year old daughter to make her a bed using only the below. The hardest part was being disciplined enough to pick up the stuff when I saw it in the dumpster and take it home, and to stop my family from trying to “tidy up my junk” every Saturday where they would try and put it all kinds of places to get it out of the way. Also, my nieces and nephews were constantly using the paint lids as frisbees and hurling them down the hill where I would often find them a week later.
- 50 used paint cans (you could substitute large juice cans)
- 4 rolls of packing tape
- 3 regular cardboard boxes
- 1 cardboard box from a large electrical appliance
- 8 recycled coke bottle lids
- some of the white plastic binding tape that they use for packing white goods
- about 30 small screws and a screwdriver
- 1 thin piece of foam
- Material to cover
The only things that I bought new were the screws and the packing tape and the foam, plus the material to
cover, all the rest of it was salvaged from building sites and dumpsters, plus Jacks of Fiji Nakasi store gave us some great boxes. The total cost of the bed was $18.
- We used 50 cans in ten rows of five to fit a single mattress.
- Lay them out to make sure it fits.
- Make a cardboard stencil to cover 4 cans, 6 cans and 3 cans.
- We grouped the cans into fours and sixes and then put them together as you would leggo so as to give the structure some strength.
- We then had a group of two lots of six cans, and one lot of three cans.
- You need a stencil for both the top and bottom of each set. I think we used eight stencils of the 4 can set, twelve stencils of the 6 can set, and two stencils of the 3 can set.
- Trace the stencils onto cardboard boxes and cut with stanley knife or scissors
- Tape the paint cans together in sets, then tape the cardboard stencils to the top and bottom of each.
- Then tape the leggo pieces together.
- Lay the large cardboard on the floor and place the large leggo pieces together
- Score the cardboard so that you can fold the extra cardboard up to make the sides of the bed.
- Tape around the cardboard.
- Place some cardboard boxes on the top of the bed, and cover with a piece of thin foam if you have it.
- Lay the material/fabric on the floor overlapping so that there are no gaps if you are using pieces, and make sure that there is enough on each side to cover the sides of the bed, and fold over the bottom.
- Turn the bed frame upside down and lay on top of the middle of the material.
- Cover the base of bed with a piece of material, and fold the top material over the sides and to the bottom so that no joins will show when the bed is right side up.
- Use a piece of white packing tape, or cardboard to get a straight line, and screw the material into the base, all folded in, using the packing tape as a guide.
- Use some long screws, and screw the coke bottle lids into the base as small legs.
- Turn the bed over, put on the mattress, go to sleep!