Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Confessions of an Eco-Jerk - Upcycling anyone?

Up until the last few years, I've been crap at recycling, let alone upcycling. Mostly that was due to laziness (sometimes it felt like a long walk from the bathroom to the recycle bin, ok?), and also cynicism about whether it really makes any difference.

Well, a lot has changed. In the past few years I've become a diligent recycler, and even a precycler - trying to avoid products with excess packaging, choosing things that have reusable or at least recyclable containers, and so forth. I've got a long way to go, but I've made headway...

Now I'm into 'upcycling', at least in theory. By upcycling I mean taking something that's truly destined for the junk yard or the recycling bin and giving it new life, function and durability. (I don't count refashioning or using reclaimed fabrics as 'upcycling'. As others like Angela have pointed out, that's just good old-fashioned thriftiness, another skill I'm learning).

I'm driving the Beloved mad by insisting that we save our milk bottle lids, toilet rolls, dead appliances (e.g the old computer monitor) and containers of all shapes and sizes.
BUT... I've got nothing to show for it. Well, apart from piles of junk, a few lame kiddy-craft activities (egg carton caterpillar, cereal-box robot, both trashed within minutes of being lovingly crafted), and that pathetic pincushion with a plastic lid base (yep, that's it in the picture above).

So tell me, who is REALLY doing the upcycling thing? Are YOU?
I'd love to see what other people are doing with their junk. I admire people who really are doing the sustainable-crafting thing, and want to support them and get ideas for myself as well. Here are some inspiring examples:
1. The folks at Haul (aka Urban Boomerang) make funky commuter bags out of recycled billboards and old truck tyre inner tubes!
2. Rebound Books are onto a great thing, and as long as no readable books are harmed in the process, I'm loving their book-binding concept.
3. There are some creative Etsy artists making 'soda pop art' jewelry, bottle cap accessories, coffee-sack bags, and other fun stuff.
And now - do you want to 'get your upcycle on' (?!) and join in this new upcycling challenge I saw posted on Crafting A Green World today? You know you do!

(photo via The Junkstop)

1 comment:

  1. I love your term pre-cycling, and I find I do this more than recycling at the end of a product's life. But I believe its the best place to start in the whole recycle process.

    I can see this concept changing people's consumerist habits too - if you really think about what you are about to buy not only for it's cheap price or because it appeals to you, but also by considering it's life cycle worthiness (can I use it in other ways, can it be recycled, is the packaging bio-degradable, etc, etc) we would be buying a whole lot less crap and see past the eye-candy factor that marketing has drilled into us.

    I confess though to have small piles of junk that I don't really know what to do with!!


“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~Albert Einstein