Eleven-year-old Robby Novak (or Kid President as he is better known to his 34 million YouTube viewers) says “be more awesome”.
His 3-point platform is: (1) Kids can change the world; (2) Adults can change the world; and (3) It would go a lot faster if we all worked together.
If you’d love to help make the world a more awesome place this year, here are nine home handyman projects to get you started:
Build Your Own Community Lending Library
Community lending libraries are not a new idea but their numbers have been growing rapidly thanks to the Little Free Library movement.
In Australia, we have nearly two dozen Little Free Libraries – an idea started by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, who credited with building the first Little Free Library in 2009.
Todd’s library was built in the shape of a miniature one-room school house as a tribute to his mother, a retired school teacher who loved to read. He stocked it with books and the response from his community was fantastic. He made more and started giving them away to neighbours.
The movement has continued to grow and there are now thousands of little free libraries worldwide. The organisation sells kits but also encourages home handymen to design and build their own. They offer many free resources for building your library and tips on everything from encouraging community involvement to discouraging vandalism on their website.
Taking a more urban approach, John Locke, a New York City architect and designer has been experimenting with community lending libraries that hang in public phone booths. He describes his project as the Department of Urban Betterment (DUB). Check out his cool library booth on his design blog.
2. Build a Stray Cat Winter Box
Regardless of your feelings about feral cats, the fact is that these animals suffer when the temperature dips below freezing. If you have a few neighbourhood outdoor cats that hang around, you could actually save their lives by making a winter shelter box. Cats have thick fur that can keep them warm but they still need a place to stay dry and out of the weather. If you live on a farm or acreage you might appreciate the work these animals do in keeping the rodent population in check. So why not show your support?
3. Make an Upcycled Hanger Coat Rack
We love Rachael Ranney because she’s young, hip and is introducing DIY to a whole new demographic of young urbanites. Upcycle (aka recycling) is the new buzz in DIY and home improvement.
Upcycling projects pack double karma points by being both good for the environment and easy on your budget. In this how-to video, Rachael demonstrates two easy upcycle projects that reuse dead branches and old hangars to create stylish hallway coat racks.
4. Build a Passive Solar Heater
This is one of the simpler do-it-yourself solar projects available. There are multiple plans and step-by-step instructions available for free. The basic design is a series of tubes made from recycled aluminium cans that have been painted black and mounted inside a shallow box with one clear side. Various designs use recycled windows or Plexiglas, insulate the interior of the box and use solar powered fans to blow hot air out of the system.
Using passive solar heat for a garage makes sense because in your house you sometimes need heat when the sun isn’t shining – especially if your garage doubles as your handyman workspace.
5. Build a Secret Door
Maybe a secret door won’t solve world hunger, but it will certainly make an awesome home addition for any gamer, geek or maker. And isn’t being more awesome what this is all about?
This is a pretty major project, but the specialised hardware to hang the secret door should be available from your nearest hardware store and Makendo has created this Instructables to take you through building it.
6. Build a Clever Composting Bin
There are many different compost strategies depending on where you live. And the good news is that you don’t need to be a professional handyman to build a clever composting bin.
If you live in an apartment, sometimes composting might not be feasible or appreciated. This is where community is important. Are there urban gardens near where you live? Does the city have a compost collection system? Find out and use it.
If you live in a country area and already compost, then why not expand your compost capacity and take donations from work or your children’s school.
That’s what Toni and her husband are doing on their small farm on Vancouver Island, Canada. After leaving their apartment in the big city in 2009, they have been experimenting with all kinds of ways to live a more sustainable life at their new home in the country. It’s been going well and now they produce most of the food they eat and have come close to eliminating the waste they produce. Composting is a big part of that. To help spread the word Toni has created a step by step guide to building the ultimate three bin compost bin system on her blog.
7. Create a Simple Adaptive Bases
There are many simple projects that can have an amazing impact in the lives of disabled people. This simple wood base is just one example of an easy DIY project that can help disabled people live more functional lives. Adaptive devices are often expensive because there is no mass market and homemade solutions often work just as well or better.
You can partner with organisations that specialise in helping the disabled or donate adaptive devices to a local school for the disabled. In-demand items include such things as smartphone and computer tablet stands, soda can holders for one-hand opening, and adaptive cutting boards that include corner guides and holding spikes.
8. Learn How to Fix Something
Being your own handyman and fixing things creates an instantly cascading river of awesome. First, you prevent something from heading to the landfill, or at least keep it out of the eternal limbo of junk around your house that should go to the landfill. That’s awesome #1.
Second, you have just given yourself the gift of something useful for free or at least very cheap compared to what the same thing would cost new. Awesome #2.
Third, you just fixed something and you feel awesome! Learning how to fix appliances by replacing worn parts like belts and heating elements saves bags of money and it’s not that hard.
Repairing scratched table tops, re-webbing a lawn chair or re-caulking a bathtub are some skills that you don’t have to do an amazing job of to extend the life of your stuff. It won’t take long before you’re pretty darn good at it and that’s awesome #3.
9. Get Organised
One big contributor to overconsumption is just not knowing where we put our stuff. So, start by pulling everything out and dumping it in the middle of the floor. This may not sound like getting organised but stay with us.
Now, instead of it being easier to ignore things, forget about them, or put off doing anything with them, now you need get them out of the middle of your floor.
Next, proceed to pick up and hold each item and ask yourself two questions. Do I love it? Do I need it? You now make four piles based on the answer to the question: love it; need it; not sure; and no.
You can start with your home handyman box, a closet, a drawer or everything along one wall of your garage. The things you love should be kept in a place where you can see them, touch them and use them every day. Things that you need should be organised so that you can find them again easily. Things that you are not sure of, put in a box. You can keep them around until you are ready to ask the question again. Everything else needs to go!
So What Will You Do To Make The World More Awesome This Year?
Confucius wrote “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Don’t wait until the end of the year to make your plans. Now’s the time to take those baby steps and contribute what you can to making the world more awesome this year!