One of our all-time favourite ways of cutting down on waste has to be Upcycling. Recycling is one of the 5 R’s we talked about in our guide to going waste free – however some people break down this down into two parts: Upcycling and Recycling. Out of the two, Upcycling is seen as the preferable, more eco-friendly option. But what is Upcycling, anyway? Read on to find out, and see some of our favourite examples of the process.
So What Is Upcycling?
Upcycling is a way of re-using items you’d otherwise throw away. Typically, this would-be trash is given a makeover and adapted for a new use. Think: turning a milk bottle into a plant pot for herbs. Upcycling has gained a lot of interest in recent years thanks to apps such as Instagram and Pinterest, allowing people to visualise alternative uses for ‘trash’.
Why Not Just Recycle In The Normal Way?
Put simply, traditional recycling can be energy intensive and is not always the best way to deal with waste. Sometimes, you can’t be sure if your recycling is actually being made into new products at all. Depending on the makeup of the product, it may end up in an incinerator. In any case, Upcycling represents a much more energy-efficient way to deal with trash. Additionally, many Upcycling projects can be completed with tools and supplies that people will already have around the house.
Our Favourite Upcycling Projects
Below we’ve curated some of our favourite examples of people turning trash into treasure – let’s take a look!
Pallet Coffee Table
The humble pallet seems to have no end of applications for Upcycling. Which is good, as there’s a lot of them and they are often treated as waste after their useful life has ended. Upcycle That features a great guide on how to turn an old pallet into a beautiful, Pinterest-worthy coffee table!
Bottle Wall Planter
There are a lot of guides out there on how to make wall planters from plastic bottles, but this easy-to-follow one from Hometalk is one of our favourites. With plastic waste in the oceans becoming a huge concern, it’s important to keep as much of it as possible out of the waste stream. Plus, you can save money by using it to grow your own food!
This creative use of an old tyre from Inhabitat shows just how far you can go in re-imagining the use for something. Using a metal framework and some clever embroidery, they have taken what is a notoriously difficult item to recycle and given it a whole new life as a cozy seat.
Tin Can Utensil Holder
Using just a scrap of wood and some old tin cans, you can impress your friends with this project to make an elegant utensil holder. No need to take that trip to IKEA just yet!
Got an old guitar that’s past its heyday? Then this guitar shelf from Buzzfeed is a beautiful way to re-purpose it to store books, CD’s or knick-knacks.
Getting Envious Yet?
Upcycling is a great way to save money, the planet, and show off to your friends on social media! What are you waiting for? Time to get involved!
Do you have an awesome upcycling tip you want to share with the community? We’d love to hear it in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for the latest Tiny Living developments.