Upcycling is all about seeing the potential in your ‘junk’ or ‘waste’ and transforming it into something new, fresh and exciting. With the ongoing environmental issues in today’s world, it’s a sustainable, cost-effective option and there are no limits to what you can create from the items and materials you no longer use.
Whether it’s an old dress or a chair that’s seen better days, before planning an upcycling project, ask yourself;
- Can it be repaired?
- Can I use it as something else?
- Can it be refashioned for another use?
- Would anyone else get use out of it?
If you’ve never upcycled anything before, you might find it hard to come up with ideas but with the right research and plenty of practice, you’ll easily be able reuse and recreate from your unwanted items.
3 top upcycling tips to get you started:
1. Do good research: Whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, a shop window or magazines, always be on the look-out for upcycling ideas. On social media, join upcycling groups and follow the right organisations and businesses, for example, the Upcycle Movement and Sustainable Fashion Dublin, as their work and events are great for inspiring your creative thinking cap. You could also start an upcycling group with your friends and family where you can discuss creative recycling ideas and even work on bigger projects together.
2. Start small: If you’re new to the wonderful world of upcycling, don’t take on something you don’t know you can finish; it will only discourage you. Start small and work up to more complicated projects. For example;
- Organise swap shops at work.
- Plant flowers or herbs in a cracked teapot, old tyre or sink.
- Make jewellery, art or accessories from unwanted items.
- Repair/restyle old clothes to make them wearable again.
- Donate clothes to a charity or reuse organisation such as Rediscover Fashion.
- Transform hard-wearing fabrics into handy storage containers or quirky accessories, for example, turn an old pair of jeans into a cute bag or storage box.
3. Don’t give up: Your creations may not turn out right every time but that’s okay, in the upcycling world, there are no mistakes, only lessons learned. Don’t give up after one or two failed attempts, the key is to keep going to develop your skills. Also, if other people pass negative comments on your upcycled creations, try not to worry too much – upcycling is a chance for you to get creative and make something unique (i.e. that can’t be bought in stores) so always remember that one person’s idea of rubbish is another’s treasure.