Earth Day Crafting Ideas to Help Repurpose Old Gear

Article by Brittany Bendel

Earth Day Crafting Ideas to Help Repurpose Old Gear

Repurposing your old gear is a great way to get creative, relieve stress, and be proactive about our environment.

If you’re anything like me, you may be experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions during this crazy time. I went from feeling a deep withdrawal for the outdoors to a great thankfulness for my present health. I also rode the wave of guilt for using my newly acquired extra time on binging Tiger King and enjoying unlimited access to snacks during my work-from-home day — and naturally, with that last joy, discovered the fear of gaining the "COVID 19" after I finally lost my "Freshman 15".

In thinking of how to preserve my sanity through these peaks and valleys of emotions, I realized that for me, doing projects that feel both productive and helpful has been the biggest relief. Being an outdoor enthusiast, I feel most passionate about reducing our environmental impact. With that passion, I love to think of ways to reduce my personal impact, even if it is just by a little — I often go to the mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! And with this inspiration, some fun project ideas were born.

My friends and I have been reusing and repurposing our old outdoor gear that is ready for retirement and keeping them out of our local landfill. Below are some fun, spare-time activities for repurposing old gear into useful items and giving it a whole new life cycle!

1. Climbing Rope Rugs

My favorite way to not have to trash my climbing rope after all the great memories I had with it is to make it into a rope rug or doormat. It’s a great way to decorate the home, save a rope, and save the memories.

The easiest way is to make a rug is from a template with a board and nails and follow an online tutorial like the one below. Some additional projects with weaving ropes include hot plate mats or wall decoration Celtic knots!

2. Climbing Rope Drink Accessories

Another great repurposing of your old climbing ropes is to make drink accessories, like koozies and coasters! All you need is a knife, lighter, and hot glue gun!

With this technique, you aren’t limited to just drink accessories — you can make as many custom shapes and applications as your imagination can conjure.

3. Dog Sleeping Bag, or Down Booties for Cold Weather

Old down coats, ponchos, and bags can be cut and sewn into new gear that may not need the same cleanliness and performance you want in a sleeping bag. Below is Zazu in his own, custom-fitting sleeping bag for his future adventures, sewn from an old, trendy down poncho that I couldn’t believe was slated for repurposing — canine glamping! On my to-do list is to repurpose my old NEMO Rhapsody™ sleeping bag into down booties for ice climbing next season using the pattern from this website.

4. Wire-Wrapped Jewelry With Old Gear

Once a climbing cam has seen its last day, whether it's from the teeth being worn flat from that epic whipper or some corrosion from too many sea-side sends — you can always turn those cams into jewelry or art if they’re no longer a safe choice to use as protection. You can do the same for nuts whose wires were kinked or damaged in a fall. Wire wrapping nuts and cam lobes can turn them into great pendants for necklaces, earrings, and zipper pull replacements. (And can be a great gift for a crusher mom with Mother’s Day just around the corner.

5. Shock Cord Eyewear Retainer - a.k.a. O.G. Croakies

Take any left-over shock cord, guyout line, or any thin cordage and all you need is two pieces off heat shrink tubing. Simply cut the cord to your desired length — then fray the ends of the cord and heat with a lighter (or tie a small knot if the cord is really thin) so the tubing has something to catch on. Insert the earpieces and knotted ends into either side on the tubing, heat until it shrinks tight, and you're good to go! No more lost sunglasses!

I hope you can also enjoy these crafting ideas to help feel productive and environmentally conscientious during these times at home — even if you are like me, and completed them as Netlfix continued to ask, "Are you still watching?"

Brittany Bendel is NEMO's Test Engineer and loves exploring caves, rock climbing, and spending time on the trail whenever she can.