Upcycling: Waste Not, Want Not

The concept was introduced in 1997 by German author Gunter Pauli and today Upcycling has become a popular hobby for arts and crafts enthusiasts and environmentalists all over the globe. Turning the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value into an art, producing everything from trinkets to interior design solutions.

If you’re like anyone, anywhere, you probably have plenty of unused items lying around the house no longer serving its purpose but you’re too busy, preoccupied and sentimental about throwing things out because “it’s still OK” or “might come in handy”. Lucky for you, the day has come and we want to show you just how handy your hoard of keepsakeshave become in helping you revamp, redecorate and rejuvenate your living space and wardrobe without burning a hole in your pocket. Here’s a list of a few items you can use in your endeavour to save the Earth and a few dollars.

1. Old Jeans

It’s your favourite pair of jeans but too many nights of binge eating while indulging in Sex &theCity marathons has resulted in a muffin top that’s too much forthis cupcake wrapper to handle! Fret not; you can still keep a part of your favourite denims with you when you transform them into an array of new items, like a handbag for instance, that will never go out of fashion. Even parts like the back pockets can be cut out to be used as coin purses and iPod holders.

2. Toilet Rolls

There really is nothing worse than being a gadget freak with OCD-like tendencies. More gadgets usually mean wires, wires and more wires. You’ll have wires to power up your computer, a cable to charge your iPad and yet another cable to connect your iPad to your computer - just to name a few – let’s not even get started on printers, docking stations and mp3 players. Thanks to some crafty geeks, you can now store all your cables away – neatly – with the help of some old toilet rolls. All you have to do is layer the inside of a shoebox with as many toilet rolls as possible and used them as compartments to store your spare cords – it’s that easy.

3. Old Socks 

While scientists are still researching theories that have surfaced in the wake of the missing sock phenomenon, e.g.  aliens, black holes, and time travel, how about spending less time speculating and more time reinventing single socks into household delights. With just one sock you can make a sock puppet, a cleaning glove to get into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies or if you‘d really like to get your money’s worth, you can transform them into heat/cold packs by filling them up with beans or uncooked rice and heating it up in the microwave or leaving it in the freezer. Don’t forget to sew up the ends.

4. Leather Belts

If you find yourself with several leather belts featuring loud prints in Mexican hues that seemed like a good idea when you purchased it, you should think twice before tossing them into the garbage bin. With a few simple do-it-yourself tricks, you can easily transform fashionable leather belts into a leather cuff to be worn to your next grunge-themed office party. If you’re willing to go the extra upcycling mile, you can revamp classic black leather belts into charming cuffs, studded and embellished, for the kids; get them to help and make it a familly affair.

5. Bicycle Wheels

In many households bicycles can be found outside or in the shed, living the life of an inanimate object as narrated by a 12-year old school studet in an autobiography – lonely, afraid and quite dejected – but it shouldn’t be that way. Breathe new life into your bicycle when you recast various parts into new home décor items. The most versatile is the wheel – detach it from the bicycle and voila! You have a pots & pans holder in the kitchen or if you have mini wooden pegs, you can turn it into a makeshift message board. The possibilites are endless.

This article was published in the Unreserved on January 10, 2014.