Isn’t the weather gross? This week’s blog was supposed to be about how you could have a plastic-free picnic (ha!), but all I want to do right now is tuck myself up in bed with a big mug of hot chocolate and a wonderful book (/an entire series on Netflix). Instead then, I’m suggesting that we all see this minor blip in August as an opportunity to stay inside and get a little bit crafty with an upcycling project.
Most of us have loads of stuff just sitting around in our house that we’re unsure what to do with. Not only is that stuff taking up precious space (particularly relevant if you’re renting in London!), but it’s a waste of those lovely materials, which could be put to much better use.
In line with the circular economy/waste hierarchy, ‘upcycling’ (which fits into the refurbish/remanufacture category on the right hand side of the diagram below) should only really be undertaken if the item in question can no longer be used for it’s original purpose. I.e. it cannot be maintained/isn’t being used in it’s original state, and you cannot find anyone or anywhere who will be able to re-use it now that you don’t want it.
Some examples of bad upcycling practice is people turning working bicycles into plant pots for their garden or sinks for their bathroom. That isn’t upcycling, it’s silly. Someone could use that bicycle as a bicycle, and it would be much more useful to do so.
Good upcycling practice, is about turning materials which are no longer useful, into something which IS useful – without the need to recycle, extract or refine anything in the process (i.e. not using lots of energy).
Some upcycling ideas
Have you got loads of old university t-shirts and a fraying duvet? Maybe you could make a patchwork quilt. Or how about that scratchy jumper that your gran knitted which you can’t bear to throw away? Turn it into a laptop cover instead. Perhaps (like many of us) you’ve got no idea what to do with your old lightbulbs? Try making these beautiful vases rather than throwing them in the bin.
Pinterest and Upcycle That are two great websites to go to for inspiration of what you can do with your underused materials. Before you start hacking away with the saws and scissors* however, ask yourself whether you or someone else could use the item in it’s current form. If that answer is yes, it would be much more sustainable to sell or donate it, rather than upcycling.
*If you are limited by your tools and need a sewing machine or a hacksaw: don’t buy it, borrow it from the Library of Things!
As yesterday was International Cat Day, I may well see this upcycling challenge as an opportunity to turn one of my old t-shirts into this cute little cat tent.
…Now all I need to do is get a cat.
Send us pictures of your upcycling projects and let us know how your 2017 Sustainable Revolution is going!