By: Andrew Bushnell, Energy and Built Environment Intern
As an avid recycler, I always make sure to sort my paper, cans, plastics, and check to be sure no items that could be recycled end up in my trash. My roommates might think I am crazy, but would a crazy person know all the plastics 1-7? I don’t think so. I love to recycle and it has been what some may consider a weird hobby ever since I came to college. Recently though, I came across a strange relative of recycling. I found out about its twin sister “upcycling.” If you have never heard of upcycling, let me introduce you.
Upcycling is the act of creating useful materials or objects from waste products. It has other aliases which you might of heard of like “repurposing,” but “upcycling” just sounds so much more awesome. In recent years, upcycling has gathered somewhat of a following with websites like Etsy and Instructables providing a marketplace and know-how for many easy and useful projects. Now perhaps you are wary of any sort of arts or crafts because that memory of your fingers stuck together for weeks from super glue is just too fresh. Well, have no fear people, there are many beginner projects out there that take less then a half hour to complete and will provide conversation pieces for years to come. Take the simple melted vinyl record bowl for example. Its simple and easy….no super glue required. You just take an old record you have lying around (or buy one at Goodwill for $.45), pop it in the oven, and voila…a perfect coffee table bowl. If you think you’re ready for something more advanced and perhaps dangerous (use caution when handling glass), then I would recommend a light bulb planter. It’s super easy to do, and most people have all the things they need at home already.
The more you get into “upcycling” the more you will discover the amazing projects out there and the true resourcefulness of humanity. I personally have been on a pallet-kick lately and have been been using discarded pallets to make a table. There are lots of great ideas out there, and for the most part the supplies are free. The best part is that you are not only gaining a meaningful and unique project that you made yourself, your also reducing the amount of waste produced and showing people how one mans trash is another mans….coat-rack. (This one is super easy I swear! PS: It makes a great gift)