Upcycling isn’t a new invention – but it has certainly risen in popularity in recent years.
It taps into three key desires: to be creative, to be thrifty and to be green. Unlike recycling, it feels productive too. Recycling is about rescuing materials, breaking them down and producing something new that will at least be of some use.
Upcycling, as Hipcycle notes, takes existing products and materials and fashions them into something useful and, ideally, better than their original use. It’s a modern take on the ‘make do and mend’ our grandparents espoused.
It also works on an industrial scale too. Rail rolling stock can be given a new lease of life under a new franchise by stripping back the paint in an Airblast Eurospray blast room and ordering some new fabric from Camira. Creativity, thriftiness and a green mindset are certainly on the top of the agenda for businesses looking to save cash and do their bit for the environment.
But if you want to jump on board and do your own projects, what exactly can you upcycle? The answer, really, is almost anything. It depends on your creative skills and the amount of time you have to put to a project. Here are six things you didn’t know you could upcycle for inspiration…
A slightly worse for wear old wooden ladder need not be destined for the tip. Why not consider hanging it horizontally in the corner of your room to make a bookshelf? Features such as this can really set the tone for a rustic themed room.
The old case that you took on holiday might have a lot of sentimental value… but little practical use these days. Or so you think. The internet is awash with quirky ideas for these – from wall cabinet to chairs. We quite like the simple-but-effective side table (21 on this list) – again another neat feature for themed room in your home.
Useful in logistics and removals, wooden pallets are one of the most common items that can be upcycled. Garden furniture, coffee tables and even beds can be made from just a few sturdy pallets.
Do you come back from holiday with a map or two that - let’s face it - you’ll never use again? Pop Sugar’s list of upcycling ideas contains a host of suggestions of creative things you can do with old maps – from using them to frame photos to making coasters, envelopes or even gift wrap.
Had a clear out of old CDs? Maybe you don’t have so many now that streaming has overtaken physical music purchases. Don’t throw out your old CD towers. These are, in fact, one of the easiest upcycling projects going, and will happily lie down in your garden as perfect planters after a quick lick of paint.
Anyone for tennis? No? Well, that old racket you no longer use doesn't have to go to waste. Cut out the strings and stick a mirror in instead for a fun design. In fact, look out for anything that you could make into a mirror to avoid settling for a boring standard frame!