A Throwback to Days Gone By: Upcycling
It may look like an old piece of clutter, but that item you are planning to throw away could have a new life. Welcome to upcycling. It’s a method of finding a new use for things that otherwise would end up on a rubbish tip.Image by Geo Okretic
When an item is recycled, its new use does nothave the same value as its original use. Recycled glass is not as clear as newly blown glass. Recycling is one step towards making waste. Upcycling, by contrast, moves the original item up the value chain. Old floorboards can be put together and polished up to make a superb dining table. A man’s old office shirt can be re-cut and refashioned into a woman’s stylish summer top.
The word “upcycling” started to be fashionable in the 1990s. It’s become popular as a result of environmental awareness, lack of money and a desire to be original. Few people pass a builder’s skip these days without having a good look inside.
Builder’s skips used to be good places to find elaborate fireplace surrounds and Victorian tiles. When refreshed, the older items always look better than the brand new “classically” styled versions. Most homeowners these days have wised up to the value of such items. If they do not upcycle them themselves, they sell the goods on to someone else for a good price.
Old furniture from builder’s skips and inner city junk shops are still the best sources for furniture to be upcycled. Furnishing a home or a business can be an extremely expensive matter. Someone’s discarded old furniture may repair and polish up nicely to make some dining or beauty salon chairs.
Patience and sandpaper
It’s important to think out the upcycling project clearly beforehand. Decide on the kind of furniture style you like and find some old items, or old pieces of wood, that more or less fit in with your ideas. The rest is patience and lots of sandpaper.
Sand away all old paint and lacquer until you reach the pure wood. Then you can decide whether you would like to lacquer, french polish, or apply a new coat of paint or colour wash. Reupholster the furniture in the style you prefer. The final product will be original and custom made. It can be a work of art.
Have you just discovered that old leather or suede jacket you used to wear when you were in your late teens? It will never be a fashion item again. Upcycle it into a handbag and multiply its value many times over. If the material is still in good condition, it’s worth investing in some leather sewing needles and waxed thread for the seaming.
If you are lucky enough to have lost weight, transform your old long skirts into a sleek and tailored straight skirt. Even the most modest piece of apparel can be upcycled. A roomy old sweatshirt can be transformed into a smart casual jacket. Add some big buttons for extra effect and you may start an upcycling fashion trend.
Guest post written by Sophie Banat graduate highly interested in Finance, Business and Psychology.