Free Materials for DIY Projects

This post has three sections: 1) where to get free resources, 2) articles about a non-waste economy, and 3) sites dedicated to ideas for recycling a wide variety of items.


Here is the inspiration for this post:

For a fun family keepsake, I want slideshows of our creations, but I need to tweak the music.  Here’s the right music for most of our creations:   For the extra clever projects, I think this music fits best:

I expect this section to get way too big, but need a single dumping area while I compile project ideas that interest me.   My projects tend to center around what I can get for FREE such as cardboard, cans, fence boards, coat hangers…


We are a one-income family.  This is true for most homeschooling families.   To afford to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, I HAVE TO LIVE FRUGALLY.  To nurture my son’s interest in becoming an engineer, I focus on projects that can be made with FREE resources.

For nearly every project my son and I do, we get our building supplies from our trash, our friend’s trash, and trash from stores (with the store manager’s permission).   In most circumstances, store employees are more than happy to see these items not get trashed.



When I need a very specific resource, then I go window shopping at stores while they are restocking shelves so I can find useful trash.    For example:

  • I needed to make a custom cooler bag for homeschool field trips.   I found a huge Mylar bubble wrap bag that is used to protect cartons of chocolate while being delivered to stores.   Once the chocolate is put on display.  The bag is trashed.     I got it for FREE.   In my experience,  it works better than any store bought cooler bag I have ever had.   Since we live in Hemet, it was important to come up with a better way to keep foods cool during summer homeschool field trips.   This has been a great solution.
  • I wanted a metal barrel for a rocket bread oven.  I noticed metal barrels outside of a mechanics shop.   I was able to get one for FREE.
  • I am looking for a metal bucket so I can make a bigger rocket stove.  I asked friends and visited commercial supply stores to find products sold in metal buckets.  I learned that metal buckets are used for oil-based paints.   I now know that I need to ask a painter for a metal bucket he would normally throw away.

I hope this helps you see that FREE resources can be found in town if you are willing to plan ahead and to think and build creatively.

From stores, we have gathered FREE items such as buckets, cans, cardboard, beautifully colored plastic, pallet wood, packing straps, clean, unwanted used clothing… on an ongoing bases.

The best thing about working with reclaimed resources is that they give us a chance to try out ideas for FREE.  Failed projects get chucked in the recycle bin, but the time spent on them was not wasted.   The time spent learning how to do a failed project helps us with future projects.

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“He is always a slave who cannot live on little.”
Quintus Horatius Flaccus [65 BC–8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading lyric poet in Latin.

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About Hemet Sunshine

I am a homeschooling mom living in Hemet, California. I am interested in building a better community for the ones I love.
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