You know what recycling is, but have you heard of its craftier cousin, upcycling?
Also called “creative reuse,” upcycling involves the process of taking items you already own but no longer want or need and reconstructing them into new-and-improved, higher quality projects. It’s a habit I started pursuing upon my entrance to college, when I found myself suddenly responsible for furnishing my own spaces and under a much stricter budget.
What’s especially awesome about upcycling is that, while saving you money, it inspires environmental consciousness, too. Reusing reduces the amount of raw materials and energy constantly put into making brand new productions. So what’re you waiting for? Go easy on the earth and your wallet with these fun upcycling ideas for beginners!
Small containers can always hold something different
Even if intended for a specific object, most containers are actually super multi-purpose. A forgotten-about eyeglasses case, for example, can carry a homemade pin cushion, a few spools, and a pair of scissors and become an adorable sewing kit. With a touch of additional artistic flare, it could even make for a lovely present, with the holiday season coming up! Along those lines, if you plan on giving out gift cards: Grab a cassette case from your pile of old tapes, decorate it with paint or ribbons, and voila! You are instantly set with a retro package for the present.
Finally, tin cans and mason jars will always work as fashionable new containers. Use them to store utensils or dry goods in your kitchen, pass along the ingredients for one of your beloved recipes to friends and family, or as rustic vases for sweet-smelling, seasonal flowers.
Household items serve multiple purposes
Need some organizational assistance? Before running out to purchase something brand new, take a look around your home first! An extra dish rack, for instance, doubles as an amazing sorter for folders, mail, loose important papers, and office supplies. An ice cube tray is handy for separation of virtually anything tiny, from knick-knacks to school supplies to healthy snacks (such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and pretzels). And for messy eaters, cut cute bibs from old plastic or fabric tablecloths.
And that’s just the start! If you’re like me and own way too much jewelry, try hanging your earrings on a cleaned, refurbished cheese grater or stacking your bracelets on a paper towel holder. If you’re like my dad and own way too many outdoor tools, try converting a rusty or broken rake into a convenient rack.
Revamped furniture, decorative art, and eco-friendly accessories are all possibilities
A classic strategy to sprucing up boring furniture is with a quick coat of fresh paint! Check out this site for DIY hacks on how to makeover bookcases, coffee tables, ottomans, dressers, and more. When you’re happy with your furniture but craving extra decor, this romantic candle holder assembled from burnt-out lightbulbs – which we all have in excess – reflects glow beautifully.
Dig through the clothing stashed at the back of your closet, and you’ll probably pull out pieces you (or your partner or family) have not touched in years. These gorgeous necklaces require only a retired necktie and some spare beads, and this spunky handbag upcycles a men’s shirt into a tote you can flaunt every day.
Affordable? Check. Environmentally friendly? Check. A creative, productive way to spend an afternoon that turns trash to treasure? Check! Tell us if you decide to experiment with upcycling. And provide pictures!
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