What is upcycling?
Upcycling is the process of re-using old and discarded materials and converting them into something more useful and attractive. Upcycling, in the past has been related to thriftiness during times of hardship, however in the future, upcycling will become more common as we face environmental issues and want to reduce our daily waste. This practice has been used many times in the fashion and textiles industries, as it requires some creativity and artistry. It is different to recycling, as upcycling involves creating something that will be of a higher quality and value in its new form and is slightly altered but not degraded, whereas recycling degrades the material to be re-used and will have low quality and value e.g. recycled bottles usually become bin liners or plastic carrier bags.
We need to find alternative ways of dealing with our waste as we throw away 50% of it into landfills, and in future this could get worse if we don’t change our habits. A lot of this waste is non bio-degradable so remain indefinitely and emit toxic pollutants into the air and water. Upcycling is a fantastic way to care for the environment and reduce this kind of waste. You can re-use mostly anything like plastic, ceramic, wool, paper, wood and glass. Also it can be a great way of preserving material of sentimental value like an old wedding dress to create a new dress or a throw.
How can you start upcycling?
Instead of buying something you need or throwing something out, consider ways to transform it. Here are some upcycling ideas;
• Jam jars and wine bottles upcycled to vases, ornaments, lanterns and storage.
• Broken glass, silverware or ceramic can be used to create unique artistic jewellery.
• Old tea cups can become candle holders.
• Scrap wood can be turned into a table or boxes.
• Old coffee bean sacks can be turned into bags, dresses and sandals.
• Using an old woven glove, stuff it to create a soft toy for a child.
• Turn an old drawer into a cabinet; drill it onto a wall and use a wooden plank as a shelf.
• Re-stitch and stuff an old jumper to become a cushion
• Give old cardboard boxes and egg cartons to children to play with
• Leftover tiles can become drinks coasters- see video below
Be creative, reduce your carbon footprint and make something unique that will last for years.