Every week, we try to do our very best to sort through and dispose of our recycling properly. We do the research on what can and cannot go into our blue bins—and of course—how to make sure our waste is readily prepared for the future recycling process. But once we put our bins on the curb every week, those materials are out of our hands. Recycling is something we’ve become mindful of doing, and hopefully, it has also become a habit of our daily lives.
However, some objects are more valuable to the recycling process than others. Some materials won’t even make it to a final renewal stage. Recycling—despite its many positives—is still considered a less favorable option than reusing the object. However, sometimes we can’t reuse those objects for their original purpose at home, so what should we do?
Give Upcycling a Try
Upcycling isn’t a new term, but it’s not always the first thing we think about when we see used items that could be thrown into the garbage, recycling, or donated. Where recycling is the process of breaking down materials to be remade into something different, upcycling is a chance to create something entirely new out of an item you no longer need.
This method of finding a new purpose for an item you could’ve easily discarded could personally save you money, and even the time it takes to search for a piece of new furniture or decor. The potential benefits to the environment are far greater still. The material may have been recycled, but in many cases, it would have spent the rest of its life in a landfill. By giving the item another chance to exist in your home as something useful—albeit different than its originally intended use—you’re sparing more resources than recycling could alone.
How Can You Get Started Upcycling?
Upcycling is a chance to get creative. Remaking an object to satisfy your style and be functional can be a challenge at first. However, all it takes is a bit of ingenuity and a pinch of imagination! If you’re unsure of where to begin, here are some simple things to keep in mind:
- Think before you toss it out. We often view objects as only holding one purpose. Once it has served that purpose, it can be tossed. Change that mindset and start thinking about how you can use that object again later. Can those paper scraps be used in a compost pile? Can any paper towel and toilet paper rolls be used in a child’s art project? Could that old wood from a home remodel be used on another building project? There’s so much you might not think to repurpose. Granted, you might not use those objects immediately, but carefully collecting them can prove useful later.
- Overlook the “look” and think about the material. Outgrown some of the decors in your home? Does your outdoor furniture look outdated? Before you toss and repurchase, think about how you can give your old decor or furniture a facelift. Look at the quality and structure instead of the overall look of a piece. Repainting and reimagining an object in a new light can work wonders!
Not sure what to recycle and what to upcycle? It’s not always as simple as instantly dreaming up a new life for an item. Always keep in mind that an item you think is destined for the recycling bin or donation box can be something you end up appreciating again in the future. Get inspired and upcycle away!