Photo: Do it yourself wisdom

Karina prefers to DIY instead of getting everything she needs from store shelves. (Credit: Two Mann Studios)

Today we outsource stuff we once made at home — food, textiles, soap — leaving it to big companies to make what we need. Our households are mainly for storing stuff (consumption) and leisure.

I was thrilled when I learned to quilt, make bread and soap, and hem curtains. DIY takes the mystery out of it, puts you in control and it feels good. (And gets me closer to my roots, doing things my Grandma did.)

Karina, owner of the Rocky Mountain Soap Company @RockyMtnSoap is a DIY kindred spirit who decorates her stores with items from the landfill!

Why did you start making soap?

I always made concoctions for my face and hair as a kid. To make soap was a natural next step. (I have four brothers so alone time with mashed bananas and an avocado was important.)

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What's your weirdest DIY project?

In my fermenting phase, my kitchen cupboard held some remarkable cultures — kombucha, kefir, natural root beer and mead. My sourdough phase ended when my starter exploded in the laundry room. My latest is vermicomposting — I've learned how to keep my worms happy!

(I, Lindsay, once made cat litter from old phone bills, baking soda and castile soap. But only once.)

Why do you think people DIY?

For me, it's about authenticity. Like the local food movement, if you can make soap yourself then you genuinely know where it's coming from. I also love getting raw wool from the farmers market and felting animals with my kids. They love it, too. I think most people want to create.

How do you source store décor?

Antique stores, Kijiji, landfills, old barns and our own workshop — we turned essential oil canisters into chandeliers.

What's your secret to landfill scavenging?

Establish a relationship with the staff to help find what you're looking for. And know the rules. One local landfill concerned about liability no longer allows me to collect wood. Now we work with a mill to repurpose their waste.

How can other retailers move toward zero-waste?

Find a designer who believes in waste reduction. Create a manifesto — be clear about what you will and won't do. Then let your team surprise you with their ideas! Look around. There are unwanted pieces waiting to be found and given new purpose.

What's a neat project anyone could try at home?

Bubble snakes! Just make sure your kids blow OUT and not in. (My three-year-old son inhaled and I spent the next half-hour washing out his mouth.)

What might people NOT know about the Rocky Mountain Soap Company?

We compete in baseball tournaments — you're showered with rose petals when you cross home plate! We share core value stories at the start of meetings, hold weekly yoga, CrossFit and spin classes, and recently passed a rule to only check email twice a day to increase productivity. And we hug a lot.

Why do you DIY instead of getting everything you need off store shelves?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

November 2, 2014

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1 Comment

Jan 04, 2015
4:28 PM

I love making concoctions for my hair and body also- it’s amazing how much you can do with simple ingredients that have been known for their wonders for centuries! Now I’m trying to bring more DIY into my life, from everyday household cleaners to gifts for friends and clothes making…I recently came across a book in the library called ‘Norwegian knits’ and there is the most gorgeous pattern for a knapsack, you’d never be able to find something like in on the high street. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with making something of your own.

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