Upcycling, or making crafts from recycled materials, is a fun and fulfilling activity that makes the world better in two ways: one, you’re recycling and saving the Earth from unneeded waste. Two, you’re ameliorating the space you inhabit with beautiful objects that have personal significance.
My new favorite upcycling website is Copycat Crafts. Contributors to the website use items from catalogs and popular stores, such as Anthropologie and Pottery Barn, as inspiration for chic crafts. The site includes instructions for making a rosette throw pillow out of upcycled clothing ─ in this case, old white T-shirts. In addition to using up shirts that otherwise may have been destined for the trash, the pillow lends a whimsical, romantic look to any couch/chair/bed you care to put it on!
For a less time-consuming craft, try your hand at making homemade recycled paper and use the finished product to send unique letters to friends and family. Take it a step further by fashioning envelopes out of your paper. You can make handmade cards with your paper, or try crafting cute, reusable hot-cup sleeves … the possibilities are endless!
While your crafty hands are fashioning upcycled pillows and paper, what could be better than hearing the soothing sounds produced by this recycled can-lid wind chime? The instructions for the wind chime come straight out of the May/June 1981 issue of Mother Earth News; feel free to give them a 2011 update. You could decoupage newspaper over the lids or use decorative ribbon to hold them together instead of rope.
The beauty of upcycling is the versatility involved with projects; no two people will start with the same material, which means the outcome will always be unique. Feel free to modify any of the above projects to adapt to your personal tastes and materials. No matter what, you’ll end up with a cool conversation-starter that you can feel good about!