Upcycle before you Recycle

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2017
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Upcycle before you Recycle

If you have ever used your old soup cans as pencil holders then you can upcycle. The difference between upcycling and recycling; is making something of equal or better value than the original item without creating pollution during the process. Recycling, although good for the environment, still uses up resources and energy to create a lower valued product from the original such as the in the cases of paper and plastic.

Although both save money and natural resources, upcycling is far more cost effective and much more environmentally friendly. Basically the art of handmade upcycled crafts is like turning lemons into lemonade.

We have become a very “throw away” society, but recently part of the reason crafts and the making of your own crafts are thriving during this economic recession is that people are returning to making things as a way to save money and perhaps gain a sense of satisfaction from the art of creation. Because your heart and feeling is put into your creation there is a sense of pride upon seeing your completed item standing in the living room generating coffee table talk as to where that fabulous item was bought. No wonder creating is good for the soul!

Use what you have to make something better

With a little bit of intuition, elbow grease and a bright idea just about anyone can create an entirely unique piece of decor to call their own. Reusing the trash in our home to create decor is a great idea, but no one wants their items to look as though they really were saved from the trash. Well it doesn’t have to be this way.

Before starting your upcycling projects make sure you make note of these tips:

● Start with quality materials.
● Use the right tools – this makes all the difference between a frustrating time consuming project and fun, easy to finish piece of artwork.
● Plan your project on how you are going to tackle it, what materials you need and exactly what you want the finished item to look like.
● Any redesign or upgrade of an already existing item needs to have a clean and sturdy base, free of rust, dirt and loose, rickety screws.
● Pay close attention to detail and finishes – this determines the difference between a “craft project” and a striking piece of home decor.

Besides doing your part for the environment one of the best benefits of upcycling is that unlike items purchased at the store, that are made in bulk, each of your crafted decor items are unique and one of a kind.

Some ideas to get you started

● Unused Mason jars are a great staring point if you’re new to hacking, there are endless ways to upcycle this kitchen basic. Some will use them for storage, mounting them to the wall as a space saving hack, or dress them in chalk paint to use as charming plant pots.


● Upcycle your shoeboxes into homemade storage containers. Decide on various themes according to what the storage containers will be used for and decorate to your heart’s content.

● Make your own placemats using old maps, newspaper articles or magazine pages. This makes for great themes and also something interesting to read and look at while eating your food. Attached the paper to harder cardboard and have them laminated. This also serves for a great idea during birthdays and Christmas and dinner parties when there is a theme involved. If you would like to incorporate nature try this great idea to make your placemats from corn husks . Don’t throw away your plastic bags! Don’t! Upcylce them into a place mat, or better even on a larger scale a floor mat. These are super comfy on the feet to walk on and so easy to clean.

● Use old curtaining, duvet covers or patches of material to create refurbished pillow cases for either the living area or the bedroom. If the fabric of the pillow is still in good condition but your decor scheme needs changing, add mismatched buttons, pieces of lace or string and even some bling in the form of sequins and voila there you have the latest in soft decor without having to break the bank.

● It seems disastrous when your grandmother’s china gets broken or that antique mirror is accidentally dropped. Sometimes it’s time to renovate those outdated tiles in the bathroom, but all these items have sentimental value and mean a great deal to you or your family. Instead of discarding them, upcycle them into your own mosaic home decor piece, still allowing you to cherish the item and keep its memorable value. Items can be mixed and matched creating an artwork piece that will have a story behind it.

● Use old CDs as coasters, you could even take this one step further by creating 3D coasters by cutting out pieces of 2 or 3 CDs, stacking them so that the cut-outs reveal the CDs below. Why not make sun catchers for your outdoor or porch area. These work just as well by your bedroom or lounge window, creating a great ambience for your living space. Keep the memories of loved ones funky! Cut your photos to fit the CD and glue it to the CD back. Glue a hook or velcro tape on the other side. Make several of these and create your very own photo wall mural. If your kids are into mosaics, choose the safer option. Let them to use cut up pieces of CDs to mosaic with instead of glass or mirrors. This has the same effect and won’t result in having to use the first aid box.

Have fun creating decor that has more than sentimental value. It creates a sense of accomplishment, that also gives back to the environment.

Need more lifestyle tips? Try these 10 hacks for keeping your home organised.

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