Introduction: The Garbage Tent

About: I'm a stand-up comedian, I make stuff.

Waste management is one of our biggest challenges. Maybe this idea will help us process the huge amounts of domestic waste we collect every day... or at least we can make something beautiful with our trash. I wanted to make a kind af fabric with plastic bags and attach it to a frame with rope made from plastic bottles. With some inspiration I found at the plastic bottle recycling king Ramon UrsuHack, I made this beautiful tent.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • A lot of plastic bags
  • A lot of plastic bottles
  • A piece of scrap wood
  • scrap metal
  • a winged bolt
  • a piece of a Stanley knife
  • 3 round wood rods (22 cm diameter, 2 x 150 cm length and 1 x 146,4 cm)
  • 4 pieces of wood (140 cm length 4,5 cm by 1,8 cm) and while you're at it drill holes of 22 cm diameter at 17 cm and 3 cm frame the edges.


  • Hacksaw
  • Table saw
  • Welding machine
  • Iron
  • Wood glue (if that is a tool...)

Step 2: Make Rope From Plastic Bottles

As I mentioned before, the idea for the plastic bottle cutter I found in an instructable of Ramon UrsuHack. In fact his instructable inspired me to make this tent. Be sure to check some of his other stuff.

I just tried to make a copy of the commercial version of his bottle cutter. I think the pictures are clear enough. It took some sawing on the table saw to give the piece of scrap wood the right shape (25 cm, 5 cm, 5 cm) and the cuts are made with a hacksaw. The vertical cut (7 cm) is the groove where you insert the plastic bottle. The horizontal cut (2,5 cm) is the groove where you insert the piece of Stanley knife. I threaded the hole to make the winged screw fit.

The metal cap fits nicely over the top of the bottle cutter and prevents the knife from sliding out of the rope maker. And it makes the thickness of the rope adjustable.

Step 3: Testing One, Two...

Before making the big frame for the tent, I wanted a proof of concept.

I made a smaller frame, wove some of the plastic rope through, placed 3 layers of plastic bags under the ropes and 3 layers on top. Then I ironed over these layers of plastic using greaseproof paper to prevent the iron from sticking to the melting plastic. (at first I used aluminum foil, but that stuck to the plastic). This created a nice, slightly smelly, plastic sandwich firmly held in place with the plastic ropes. SUCCES!

So then I started to make a lot of plastic rope and cut up a lot of plastic bags (taking of the handles and stuff).

Step 4: Making the Tent

The frame is pretty straight forward. First I made two U-shapes. I glued the round wood rods in the holes that are 3 cm from the edge. One rod is 150 cm the other 146,4 cm. These two U-shapes fit in each other. When I finished the tent I connected them with the second round wood rod of 150 cm, but first I made a temporary connection (with a small piece of round wood rod) because I needed a flat surface to melt the plastic with my iron.

Like I did in the smaller version, I wove the plastic rope through the frame, I sandwiched it with 3 layers of plastic bags on both sides and ironed it... It takes a little practice to find the right speed and temperature for your iron. And the plastic tends to shrink a little. But the overall result was very satisfying.

To finish the tent I replaced the temporary connection between the two U-hapes with the last round wood rod (150 cm). I glued a dowel (in a hole) at 3,6 cm from the edge on each side of the round wood rod. I inserted the rod in the holes of the U-shapes and only glued the holes of the outer U-shape. This creates a kind of hinge to open and close the tent.

Step 5: Let's Play in Garbage

The end result looks pretty cool, I think. It's a nice way to recycle some of your trash and the only hygienic way for your kids to play in the garbage.

I made a video about this project... it 's in dutch. Sorry. Watch it anyway.