Your family may already recycle, but do you upcycle as well?
Upcycling, as most people define it, is the process of taking something old and unwanted and turning it into something better. While recycling often requires products to be broken down before they are re-used, upcycling focuses on modifying products without re-introducing it to the manufacturing process. For instance, you might take an old window and convert it into a coffee table or build some furniture out of unused shipping pallets. In the end, this method of repurposing refuse is much better for the environment and can be much better for your wallet as well. For example, here are four clever upcycling projects that your family can try out this weekend.
1) Turn a Crib Into Book Storage. Don’t let the old crib in your basement sit around and gather dust. Give it a new life with this awesome guide on DIY Home Sweet Home. By simply re-tooling the slats on your old crib and slapping on a new coat of paint, you can turn your child’s crib into a clever and creative book holder. This great project only takes a few hours to complete and is a great way to introduce yourself to the DIY-aspect of upcycling.
2) Build a Green Wall. Green walls or “living walls” aren’t just pretty – they’re highly functional as well. By covering one of your interior walls with large, vertically-mounted planters, you’ll be able to enjoy cleaner air and a better-insulated home. In fact, installing just one green wall can significantly reduce your monthly bill for your gas water heater. You can build a wall for your home in just one weekend for less than $100. Check out Building Moxie to see how.
3) Convert Old Shipping Pallets Into New Furniture. Why spend a fortune on new furniture when you can just make your own out of some old shipping pallets. Sturdy, modular and – best of all – virtually free, discarded shipping pallets are the perfect building blocks for upcycled couches and desks. You just need to stick them together and add some cushioning where needed. For a variety of pallet furniture tutorials, head over to homedit.
4) Turn Old Bottles Into New Glasses. This project is the epitome of upcycling. Instead of sending your unused glass bottles back to the recycling plant, you can cut out the middleman and repurpose them on your own. By cutting off their tops, you can turn those old bottles into functional new drinking glasses for your whole family. I use a glass cutting tool to do this, but if you don’t have one that’s no problem. You can cut the bottles using yarn, some nail polish remover and a lighter. Check out 366 Days of Pinterest to see how. A word to the wise – make sure you sand the sliced edge of the bottles smooth before you drink from them! Otherwise you might be in for an unpleasantly sharp surprise.
Upcycling is a great way for families to cut back on both their carbon footprint and their monthly utility bills. Don’t take my word for it though. The next time you’ve got a few hours to kill and some unwanted goods laying around, try out one of these four projects with your family and see for yourself just how rewarding this hip new way of going green can be.
Bio: Lucy Clark is a mother of two, an avid DIY-er and a blogger for DIY Mother. Her hobbies include watching her daughters’ soccer games, tending her vegetable garden, and remodeling her living room at least once a year.