After reading TheGreenLight’s latest repost about “the grandma who was told to be green” there was one consistent thread I thought I’d follow up on. See, a lot of folks think being green means spending a ton of money on organic groceries and household products, replacing all your lightbulbs, or giving up guilty pleasures like your snowmobile (Kristin and Ben) or delicious burgers (Kristin and Ben….).
While all those things are nice, they’re not the only way – or even the best way. Being environmentally responsible – or “green” – is paying attention to what you’re consuming. This can mean purchasing products sourced and created in an ethical and responsible way. But, it can also mean just breaking the mentality of a consume-and dispose culture – that you buy what you need at some mass retailer, use things, and throw them away. One major trend in this area is the idea of “upcycling.” Unlike recycling, where materials like paper, glass, or plastic are broken down at big facilities and then remade into another jar, bag, or can, upcycling can be done in your own home. There’s certainly some large scale upcycling going on, but today, we’re just talking about keeping a few things out of your trash can or recycling bin and turning them into cool stuff.
Maybe you’re feeling a little tight on cash. Maybe you’re sick of having the same damn home décor from Ikea and WestElm that everyone else has. Or, maybe you’re just curious what to do with all the beer bottles from the weekend barbecue (it’s March, but we can dream, right?) Whatever the reason, a little creativity can go a long way in the world of upcycling. Basic items such as bottles and cans, old bags, tshirts, etc. can be turned into everything from the practical (an oven mitt or a dusting cloth) to the fashionable (headbands, bracelets, or quirky throw pillows and lamps).
So where to start?
Everyone’s favorite place: THE INTERNET. Pinterest might be the best site ever invented for sharing ideas and steps to make awesome DIY decorations. Seriously – look at everything you can make out of a T-Shirt or this gallery of DIY projects that are upcycled including everything from nightlights to belt buckles. Blogger Emily on SavvySugar shared this list of 122 Awesome Upcycling Projects that you can make with things like old beer bottles (which turn into adorable glasses), wine bottle corks (anyone neat a trivet or coaster?), or sweaters (softest pillow ever!) Country Living magazine published an article on upcycled and DIY décor, but if you’re more of a print kind of person, Amazon has dozens of book options for DIY and recycled material crafts like this one or this one. Finally, the website weupcycle.com is a wealth of projects from the simple to the spectacular.
Still not convinced? I present below a gallery of images that were upcycled in one way or another.