Upcycling?

Upcycling is a relatively new term that can be rather confusing.  Most of us are familiar with recycling – or taking an item and breaking it down then using that material to create a new item.  For example, taking a glass bottle, melting it, using the liquid glass to create a bowl.  This is great because it keeps the glass bottle from sitting in a landfill for thousands of years, going nowhere, and it gets us great new glass products.  Upcycling, though, is the process of repurposing something without breaking it down first.  Not just using something as it is, necessarily, but using something to create something new and with a higher value than the material it is made from.

Etsy is full of examples, as are many do it yourself or crafting websites.  My big new upcycling project is the curtains for my van.  I’ll post pictures and a tutorial later.  For now, I’m going to post some pictures of the inspiration for them.  From Freecycle, I recently received a little over 3 giant outdoor trash bags full to the top of upcycled fabric.  There was cotton, wool, linen and silk.  Patterns that I had never seen before!  Small pieces and large pieces.  It was such an amazing find!  By upcycled, I mean that someone had gone to sales, thrift stores, gone through closets and maybe other people’s things, and found fabric that had a lot of life left in it, yet which was on its way out for one reason or another.  She rescued it and stored it.  Then she passed it on to me.  And now, I will create new things out of it.  My first project, patchwork curtains for my van!  I’ll also be making lots of clothes for the kids for the winter, and next spring from the fabric.

So, is it upcycling to take a piece of clothing and create another piece of clothing?  Sometimes.  The majority of the clothing I was given had an issue and could no longer be used as is.  Sweaters had moth holes.  T shirts had stains.  Pants had torn knees.  Some things were just so far past being in style that no one would wear them now.  But the fabric was all good!  So, taking a $2 pair of size 2X pants from the thrift store, using the fabric to create a toddler sized jumper for my daughter that would sell for $10 or $15 is certainly considered upcycling.

I have a few other upcycling projects in mind for around the house, but haven’t gotten them started yet.  I’ve saved a lovely green ginger ale bottle to create a dish soap dispenser for my kitchen counter.  I use old jars for all manner of things that are worth more than an empty jar is.  I use baskets in for things that other people never think of.  There is plenty more, but I am going to wrap up.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures of my new fabric, just for fun.

This is just a smattering.  I can’t wait to share the van curtains!  In the mean time, what upcycled projects have you done or are you working on?
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One thought on “Upcycling?

  1. I make purses out of old blue jeans and corduroys. I also put a grommet in the top of large coffee cans to make yarn holders for when I’m crocheting. It keeps the ball of yarn from rolling around all over the place and allows for consistent tension. I save my old coffee creamer containers throughout the year. At Christmas time, I make instant chai tea and hot chocolate mix for gifts. Dunno if it really counts as upcycling, but I keep all of my little soap pieces that are left and put them in a piece of pantyhose by the water spigot outside and use it to wash my hands after I work in the garden. Works great!

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