It's the first day of school and you are feeling confident in your new get-up. You step off the bus (or whatever mode of transportation you use to get to school) and into the building.
Oh, what a nightmare! Not only are you back in school, but every other person has almost your exact same outfit! How are you going to express your awesome uniqueness now?
Well, do not fear, DIY is here!
DIY, or Do It Yourself, is a trend that has been around since the early 1950s. Instead of depending on professionals or factory workers in Third World countries to make your clothes and other material goods, try making them yourself.
It is very difficult today to find anything that is truly unique. When something is found that is considered one-of-a-kind, it is either too ugly/weird/expensive (let's face it, we're in a recession). But by using DIY, a person can spruce up their wardrobe without spending too much money.
DIY also helps to recycle useless or unwanted materials such as plastic bottles, ill-fitting clothes, and other bits and pieces of things that would otherwise go into a landfill. There are many websites that have directions on how to change junk and scraps into all sorts of interesting and useful things. If you are interested in learning more about different projects, try going to Instructables, ReadyMade, Threadbanger or EHow.
One of the biggest benefits of DIY-ing is the skills that one learns while doing it, such as problem solving and good work ethics, all of which will help when looking for careers. However, the best part of making and fixing things is the feeling of accomplishment after the work is done.
A lot more people are eating out or living on instant food nowadays. There are two reasons why this is horrible.
First it costs more -- for example, a package of 10 chicken nuggets costs $3 at McDonald's. However, if you buy a package of chicken and a box of corn flakes for $6, you could get at least 40 homemade nonprocessed chicken nuggets and have enough cereal left for breakfast. See, you can get more food for your money by making it yourself.
DIY also encourages people to buy from their local farmers, causing folks to eat healthier organic veggies and fruits, while helping farmers survive so that their land is not plowed up and turned into a Walmart. Or if you'd rather save a little more money, try growing your own garden. If digging up the backyard to plant a garden is too much work for you, try making box gardens or growing plants in buckets.
For experienced cooks, try making your own cookie cutters out of aluminum, which gives your desserts a fun twist while staying in budget. (One popular shape right now is mustaches.) Another fun thing is taking cake decorating classes. Hey, you never know, one day you might be as good as Duff.
By learning how to cook, a person can eat healthier and cut down costs, because let's face it, Big Macs tend to add to your waistline and subtract from your wallet. All it takes is buying a cookbook ("How to Boil Water: a Survival Guide for New Cooks" is really handy) and learning how to use the stove.
This form of DIY may be challenging for some, especially those who have only sewn a string bag in a school class. However, there are many ways to alter clothing without even threading a needle.
For starters, there's the new trend of cutting and re-tying T-shirts in new and interesting ways. For ideas, look at the book "99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-shirt into Something Special." Cutting and tying fleece edges to make blankets is another great way to DIY; not only are the blankets warm and comfortable, but they make great presents.
A person could also screen print or put cool designs on articles of clothing by using methods such as iron-ons, spray or fabric paint, tie-dye and even bleach.
Knitting and crocheting are other great methods of making unique clothing like scarves, hats and mittens.
For those who enjoy sewing or are willing to give it a chance, try making fun little knickknacks like pillows or stuffed animals, which are especially easy when made out of felt. If you're a more advanced sewer, how about making your own clothing? This is a great way to save money and to add more unique articles to your wardrobe.
Building and crafts can be difficult for those who are not able to hold a hammer without hurting someone or have never made anything beyond a frame covered in macaroni. No worries, it's good to try something new.
For folk who are afraid of hurting themselves, try making masks with plaster. Not only is this a fun activity (although slightly messy), but the masks can come in handy for Halloween. Another great way to use plaster is to make block letters, which are a really big hit right now, and are fun to decorate with and on.
Another fun, no-damage-done craft is to make your own piÃ±ata with paper mÃ¢chÃ©, balloons and tissue paper. Not only do these look better than store-bought pinatas, but they can also be personalized to fit your mood or event. So feel free to pull a Napoleon Dynamite and smash Summer with a bat.
Painting is another great way to get your crafty freak on and also save money and make furniture or rooms look nicer. If you are not an artist, try making stencils or gluing on little knickknacks or pictures. One fun way to do this is to make little sculptures from Sculpy and glue them onto objects to personalize your possessions.
For those who are complete accidents waiting to happen, remember that Elmer's Glue and duct tape can be very useful. Or for the rest, learn new things! Start small with little crafts like birdhouses, or get the "For Dummies" books and remember, keep an open mind.
Probably the most popular form of DIY is jewelry. Jewelry is a great way to recycle otherwise useless objects and bring style to your get-ups.
For starters, try making necklaces or bracelets from soda pop lids; either bottle caps or tabs from the cans. The caps look really cute on necklaces and bracelets, or try putting them on belts or purses to add a quirky punk look to an outfit.
Another way to personalize accessories is to make your own decorated headbands. Threadbanger has a great tutorial on how to make feathered headbands; however, you can also glue bows, veils or mini top hats on the bands to make them even more unique.
For boy and girl accessories, try stamping leather and turning it into a cuff, or try making beach-worthy bracelets and necklaces out of knotted hemp. Another cool way to make belts, bracelets, rings and necklaces is to use old computer pieces such as old keys, computer chips, wires and outlets, or you can even make jewelry from money. One good example of this is plain metal rings made from melted-down quarters.
If you're interested in learning how to make jewelry, check out a class at your high school or a craft store like Jo-Ann or Michael's.
Madison Ostberg is a junior at Bonneville High School. E-mail her at email@example.com.