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Home Ec: RecycleTown: How to Make a Cardboard Wonderland

After years of pondering the possibility we finally installed solar panels to heat our hot water yesterday.  Of course I would like to have a photovoltaic roof and  be off-grid running on strictly sustainable sources of power, but for the moment that is not our lot.  Our town of Evanston, Il approved a three-year contract in April of this year with Homefield Energy as part of its electricity aggregation program (aggregation program), providing participating residents and small businesses with 100 percent renewable energy.  So in theory we are a little bit greener as a town, but I do still believe in generating power right here off of and into our own home.  But that is not what this post is about.

It is about the materials left behind after the contractors departed. There were GIANT and I mean truly large cardboard boxes left behind.  When my girls see a cardboard box they can’t leave it be.  We have had cardboard boats, cardboard coffins, cardboard refrigerator and cardboard houses linger around our home for months.  There is something delightful about the possibility of creating a home, an adventure, a world out of cast-off packaging.  If you peak at Pinterest you are sure to see fanciful creations from cardboard boxes, true beauty and art from this brown paper medium.  Function over beauty was our intention as we set out on this project this afternoon.  It was a house the girls were eager to invent. People have been using cardboard as a form of shelter in many different forms for years now.  We live in a time of extreme expenditures for stunning architecture and massive amounts of waste generated by the majority of construction projects.  So, here is an itsybitsyteenyweeny reuse project from our home improvement efforts.  Let’s call it RecycleTown.


recycle town girls RecycleTown Nap

After glancing at a few images online for inspiration we set to work with an x-acto knife, scissors, packing tape, broken down cardboard boxes and wallpaper scavenged from the alley.  Again, think function over form.  The girls were eager to move into their new home and not that excited about having to build it themselves, so we did the quick and dirty.  Cut out a few windows, taped together a few panels for walls, attempted, but did not succeed at making an A-frame roof, draped fabric over the top and wallpaper over the sides, installed a quilt on the ground and cut “streamers” out of wallpaper.  And there you have it, a quick and dirty playhouse.