We have no doubt that you’re familiar with the “three r’s”(reduce, reuse, recycle) but if you find yourself struggling to repurpose items, you’re not alone! To help you tackle this crucial step, we’ve pulled together some upcycling projects that you can pull off with ease. With these recommendations. you’ll be an upcycling pro in no time.
What Is Upcycling?
Let’s start with the basics: What is upcycling anyway? Put simply, upcycling is reusing with more transformation. It describes the process of taking something you no longer need for its intended purpose and turning it into something you do need. The difference between upcycling and reusing is that when reusing something, there isn’t that transformative process. Taking an empty Eminence Organics tonique bottle to store your natural all-purpose cleaner is an example of reusing. Turning the parts of the tonique bottle into a decoration, on the other hand, is an example of upcycling.
Upcycling is an amazing way to reduce your carbon footprint for three big reasons:
- By purchasing fewer “new” goods, you lessen your contribution to their production processes, which are typically harmful to the environment.
- By transforming things that wind up in the bin, you reduce the garbage you send to the dump.
- While recycling is great, recycling processes do still require energy, making upcycling a more eco-friendly option. It’s best to think of recycling as the last resort in your journey to reduce waste.
What’s The Difference Between “Upcycling” And “Recycling?”
What exactly is the difference between upcycling and recycling then? Doesn’t everything we recycle get transformed into something new? The big difference between the two is that recycling breaks consumer materials down into their base materials. For example, when you recycle a plastic bag, it’s shredded, melted down, made into pellets, and used to make something new. When you upcycle a plastic bag, it’s cleaned and sanitized, and then it can be cut into yarn and woven into a basket, a rug, etc.
Easy Upcycling Projects
The sky’s the limit when it comes to upcycling projects, so let your creativity flow freely! To get you started, here are four easy projects with something for everyone in the family. Feel free to put your own spin on any of the directions and share your masterpieces with us in the comments below!
No Sew Tote Bags
We adore reusable bags. Not only do they cut down on plastic waste, but they’re more durable than traditional grocery bags. Next time you’re gathering up outgrown clothes to donate, put aside a few knit shirts to upcycle into tote bags. The best part? Zero sewing is required. Even the littlest members of your family can help out with this upcycle project.
You Will Need:
- Knit shirts
- Pencil or chalk
- Lay the shirt flat. The handles of your bag will be at the shoulders of the shirt.
- With the pencil or chalk, draw a scoop going below the neck for the opening of your tote.
- Measure and mark the depth of your tote from the base of the scoop and add three extra inches.
- Draw a curve around the arm hole to create the shape of the handles.
- Cut where you have marked, going through both layers of the shirt.
- Cut a thick fringe at the base of the bag approximately two inches tall and one inch wide.
- Turn the shirt inside out, and knot the back and front fringe together.
- Flip right side out and you have a new tote bag!
Adapted from: Scattered Thoughts Of A Crafty Mom, How to Make a Tote Bag From a T-shirt
Sun Defense Minerals Pencil Case
If you’re a fan of Eminence Organic Skin Care Sun Defense Minerals, you know that this product comes in a beautiful reclaimed pine presentation box. A great upcycling project for kids is to personalize this box into a pencil case for school.
You Will Need:
- An empty Sun Defense Minerals box
- Craft supplies of your choice. We recommend: paint, washi tape, stickers, glitter, patterned paper & glue
- Lay newspaper down to keep your work area clean.
- Allow your child to decorate the box however they like. We suggest: Lining the inside with paper, painting the outside and decorating with stickers and glitter, and using letter stickers to label the box with your child’s name.
Tin Can Lanterns
Did you know that modern tin cans actually contain no tin? Despite the misnomer, they are usually made of aluminum which is one of the easiest materials to effectively recycle. But don’t toss all your cans into that blue bin – they are also an awesome resource for upcycling projects due to their durability. Here is one of our favorite “tin” can projects.
You Will Need:
- A dotted design on paper
- Clean tin cans (large or small)
- Sand & water
- Fabric bag filled with sand
- Hammer and thick nails
- Spray paint
- Wire coat hangers
- Needle nose pliers
- Votive candles
- Draw or print a dotted design on paper. This will be used as a guide to hammer a design into the cans – using nails to create holes. Ensure the space between the dots is at least the same diameter as the nails.
- Pack your clean, label-free cans with sand and top with water. Then, freeze overnight. This will make the can sturdy enough to hammer the holes.
- The next day, tape your design to the can and place the can on the sandbag. Do not empty the can.
- Following your design, punch holes into the can using the hammer and nails. Refreeze the can every ten minutes or so to ensure the sand stays firm.
- Once you have completed your design, hammer two holes opposite each other 3/8 of an inch below the top of the can for the handle.
- Empty the can of sand and rinse. Then in a well-ventilated area, fill the can with newspaper and evenly spray paint the outside. Allow it to dry completely.
- Using the wire cutters on your pliers, cut a ten inch length of wire from an old coat hanger. Curve the wire into a “U” shape, creating a loop at the top if preferred. On both ends, bend about 3/8 of an inch inwards.
- Attach each end of the wire handle into the fully dry can. Repeat the process for additional lanterns.
- Place a small votive candle inside the can for a beautiful soft light.
Adapted from: Craft Foxes, Making Lights: DIY Tin Can Lanterns
Cleanser or Body Lotion Hanging Planters
Plastics are undoubtedly convenient but require copious resources to create. They are one of the trickiest resources to recycle and still often end up in the landfill. The benefit of plastic? You likely have many plastic containers at home, and they make incredible upcycling supplies. You can even create a home for your favorite houseplants with your empty Eminence Organics body lotion and cleanser bottles.
You Will Need
- Clean Eminence Organics bottles
- Scissors or Xacto knife
- A hole punch
- String, leather, or twine
- Ensure your Eminence Organics bottle is clean of all residue and peel off the stickers. You can use cooking oil to remove any glue that may be left behind.
- Cut off the top of the bottle in a clean line. You can cut straight across, at an angle, or even try a scalloped edge. Discard the bottle top or save for other upcycling projects.
- Use your hole punch to punch holes on either side of the bottle.
- Pull your string through the holes, tying a knot inside to secure the string.
- Fill with potting soil and your houseplant, then hang off your wall or from the ceiling!
Adapted from: Almost Makes Perfect, DIY Upcycled Plant Hangers
What upcycling project are you excited to try? Are you already an upcycling pro? Let us know your favorite ways to upcycle in the comments or join the conversation on: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest |LinkedIn | YouTube | G+