Let’s face it, we all have things lying around our homes that no longer serve any purpose. We hang on to them primarily because they have a sentimental memory attached or hoping that they ‘may’ come in handy someday. Or then you could just be very concerned about the amount of waste going to the landfill everyday. Whatever the reason, if you are in such a situation, upcycling could just be the thing you need. In addition to giving discarded things a new life, the sheer joy and creativity involved in creating something beautiful, functional can be extremely fulfilling. To help you get started, here’s the inside story on what upcycling is all about and how you can do it too!
Upcycling: the what and why of it
Most of us have been reusing everything from plastic bottles to clothes. So are you upcycling? UpcycleThat.com throws more light on this and explains the concept as, ‘The act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function. In doing so, the finished product often becomes more practical, valuable, and beautiful than what it previously was.’ If you are still not very clear about the difference between upcycling and recycling here is more. When you hand down a pair of jeans to somebody or cut them up to make trendy shorts, you are recycling. However, if you repurpose the jeans into a basket to store things then you are upcycling.
Fun fact: Did you know that Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind this artform is treating the breakage and repair of an object as a part of its history, something to be proud of rather than just discarding the object.
Upcycling and its upsides
Upcycling has huge benefits, both personally and for the environment. On a personal level, it helps you save money and space by giving a new lease of life to items that are just stored away. The unleashing of creativity and showcasing of craftsmanship help create unique products that preserve fond memories and are also great conversation starters. Upcycling is also known to bring not only families but also communities together (see the Great Crate). On a larger scale, it can also fosters innovation. Companies are coming up with innovative and creative methods to reuse materials, which leads to conservation of natural resources.
Fun fact: As a part of the Art & About festival in Sydney, Australia, hundreds of plastic milk crates were used to build a huge container garden. Nicknamed the Great Crate, it was a group effort involving community members who had to plant seeds in these old milk crates. The result was a four-sided vertical edible garden in the shape of a cube.
Upcycling is easier than you think
No project is too small if you are open to the idea of reusing things. Whether you create a simple bookshelf with a scrap piece of wood, repurpose an unused ladder to hang towels and transform it to an artsy, functional towel rack, or even convert an unused baby crib into an adorable study table for kids — it’s all upcycling and a step in the right direction. And it’s just not for the creative folks among us. Simple projects like converting cardboard boxes to storage baskets or using old CDs as painted coasters can be easily done by just about anybody. Another easy DIY project is converting tin cans into pretty lights to hang in the balcony or pouring wax into old teacups to turn them into candles.
As you can see, upcycling can be used effectively to increase the utility of an unused item. And the possibilities to creatively reusing items are endless. If you are ever stumped for ideas, you can find several websites that offer tips and ideas that can help you upcycle sustainably.
Fun fact: A Japanese group from Osaka called Kingyobu, or the Goldfish Club, have converted abandoned telephone kiosks into aquariums. The kiosks were sealed to the watertight and filled with goldfishes. This unique upcycling idea has won the hearts of the residents of Osaka and are cool urban art installations.
Upcycling is all about bringing old items to life and it doesn’t really matter if you are a beginner or a pro at it. The key is to have fun while doing it. And the best part: it doesn’t have to look perfect, in fact imperfections are part of the charm. So go ahead put on your thinking cap and find a little inspiration to transform your old stuff into really cool new stuff!