How to live sustainably while social distancing

Posted on 20th March 2020

Most of us will be spending more time at home in the coming weeks and it can result in looking for new ways to keep busy and entertain ourselves. During this period of social distancing, it could be the perfect time to start working on some of the upcycling and sustainability projects that we have been meaning to do but never seem to find time to get around to. The Rediscovery Centre has put together this post to give you some inspiration and top tips on upcycling and sustainable living.

You can also follow our “Rediscover @ Home” series  launching shortly on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where we will be demonstrating some of the activities and tips in more detail in the coming days and weeks. Please join us and fulfill some of your new sustainable goals during this period and please join in by suggesting any tips and tricks that we might have missed.


1) Buy sensibly.

 As easy as it can be to get caught up panic buying, only buy what you will need for one week rather than stockpiling food and materials that are more than likely going to go to waste. If you find yourself with extra supplies, websites like are a great resource on food waste and contain great recipes you might be interested in. Follow this link for a delicious  bread and butter pudding recipe, a great way to use up surplus bread.



2) Get your bike out of the shed to travel.

Not only does cycling promote exercise and well-being, it reduces social contact when compared to public transport and is much faster than walking. With a bit more time on your hands, it’s also a great opportunity to show a forgotten bike a bit of love. So get it out of the shed, give it a good clean, pump the tyres, oil the chain and check for any loose cables or fittings and tighten them. Use your bell to say hello to your fellow cyclists and get moving. If you need help making that first step to rediscover your bicycle, once reopened, the Rediscovery Centre will be holding a number of bike events and bike courses to promote cycling and the continued upkeep of your bicycle. You can also watch out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where Mark from Rediscover Cycling will be sharing some tips and tricks in the coming days as part of the “Rediscover @ Home” series.

Rediscover Bikes



3) Get gardening.

This is the perfect time to get out in the garden if you have one, or to create some planting boxes for your balcony or window. Not only is it spud-planting season, it’s also the perfect time to kick-start your home composting. It’s not only a great way to dispose of your own food and garden waste, it provides much needed moisture and nutrients to your soil and cuts down on the need for fertilisers and watering. Stay tuned to our social media for some of Roger’s expert gardening and composting tips in the coming days and weeks.



4) Create your own fertiliser and body scrub out of used coffee grounds.

Composting with coffee is a great way to make use of something that would otherwise end up taking space in a landfill. You will probably have noticed here at the Boiler House Café, we always leave bags of coffee grounds for the public to take home for free. These can be mixed with your compost pile to add nitrogen but can also be used as a fertiliser in the garden to add much needed organic matter improving drainage, moisture and water retention. Used coffee grounds also support microorganisms and attract earthworms in the soil which benefit plant growth. The grounds are best used for acid-loving plants such as hydrangeas, roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, blueberries, radishes and carrots. Plants such as tomatoes do not respond as well. Coffee grounds are also great for making cosmetics like face and body scrubs. To find out more, stay tuned for our upcoming “Rediscover @ Home” demonstration series.


5) Plant more pollinator plants and wildflowers.

Our bees are so important. They pollinate one third of the food that we eat and 80% of flowering plants and need protecting regardless of what else may be happening in the world. If you’re going to be spending more time in your garden, why not try to plant colourful plants such as foxgloves, marigolds, roses or poppies to attract them and feed them. If you don’t have a garden, plant a hanging basket or window box. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is a national plan to try and halt the decline in bee species and promote pollinators in Ireland. City and County Councils have been working to promote diversity in their planting. If you’re still going for walks, you will notice how there are more of these flowers around, especially in public areas on roundabouts and pathways. For more information, click here. You can also check out Irish Seedsavers where you can buy a selection of seeds online for your garden.



6) Plant your own seeds in tetra packs.

Why not reuse the cartons (tetra pack milk cartons, juice cartons etc) from your house and plant herbs in them? You can also use Irish Seedsavers as above. This is a fulfilling project to do with your spare time and in a few weeks you’ll have your own home grown herbs and plants. Further tips and tricks of tetra pack seeds will be shared on our social medias.


7) Do a wardrobe review.

Go through your wardrobe and sort through your clothing. Take out anything you haven’t worn in the last 12 months and decide if it could be repaired, upcycled or modernised to give it an extended life. Anything you no longer need can be donated to a charity.  It’s also a great time to set up on online swap shop with your friends. Post the clothes you no longer want on your group chat and make virtual swaps. By the time we are celebrating the end of social-distancing, you will have a new wardrobe to wear. Here at the Rediscovery Centre, we are planning our workshop schedule for the rest of the year and have lots of great garment repair and sewing courses planned to help you improve your upcycling skills.


8) Take on a furniture project. 

If you have a piece of furniture you’re considering throwing out, why not spend your time upcycling it and giving it a new look. Dave from Rediscover Paint went live on Facebook recently showing how to paint cupboard doors and there will be lots more helpful live streams to come. See his tips and tricks here, and keep an eye on our Social Media channels for more ways to get creative with your furniture in our “Rediscover @ Home” series.

Ger Griffin - Rediscovery Centre


9) Paint your house. 

This would be the perfect time to do any paint jobs in your house that you have been putting off and to use any leftover paint that you may have in your shed. Here at the Rediscovery Centre, we collect and process paint left at recycling centres to create new paint which is sold at €1 per litre. Despite the Rediscovery Centre being currently closed to the public, our social enterprises were still working and paint was available until very recently.


10) Fun ways to keep your kids entertained using waste materials. 

There are many creative ways to use household waste materials in children’s arts and crafts. One easy project is to make animals out of household materials such as cardboard, the inner tube of toilet rolls, egg cartons, buttons, newspaper and much, much more. They can then paint and decorate as appropriate. These activities are a great way to start conversations about biodiversity and build in some home schooling research on native Irish species. Over the next while, the Rediscovery Centre will be sharing a number of fun, sustainable-focused activities for children across our social media channels.


The Rediscovery Centre hopes that you are all keeping safe, healthy and well informed. We know it’s a difficult time but hope that these tips and tricks might provide some inspiration.

The centre is currently closed to the public, but we will be remaining active online as part of our “Rediscover @ Home” series and we are happy to answer any queries you may have about reuse and upcycling, and would love to hear any other sustainable tips and tricks you may have. To follow us just click on the below links.