As a society we are great at creating trash. We often times buy items to be used for a short period of time and then dispose of it without blinking an eye. By becoming conscious of how we create waste as a society and finding sustainable solutions in order to cut down on the creation of waste is the first step in creating a greener future. One of these sustainable solutions is a repurposing technique known as upcycling. Upcycling is the process of rendering a new use for an item that would otherwise be thrown away. Although this does not completely create a closed loop system, it does extend the life of a product, thus keeping it out of the landfill for (hopefully) many years. This technique can be applied to almost any item with a little creativity and in fact there is a large movement in the fashion industry in creating clothes from “trash.” This article will hopefully give you some creative upcycling ideas and act as inspiration for you to continue the process into the future with your own creative ideas.
First of all there are some items that it just doesn’t make sense to repurpose. Anything made of weak materials such as cardboard or paper probably doesn’t make the most sense to reuse unless you are making craft type products or recycling. On the other hand anything made of a metal such as aluminum cans or thick plastic can be repurposed into something that will hold up for a much longer period of time. I would like to put an emphasis on the plastic items due to the amount of time that it takes for plastic to biodegrade (up to 1,000 years). Therefore any creative way to extend the life of these items before they end up in the landfill or with any luck recycled is a major plus.
1. Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden
Now I despise single use plastic bottles but by getting creative there are ways to extend the life of these bottles by repurposing them, possibly even into planting pots for your very own backyard vertical garden. If you do not have the time or space to conquer a vertical garden, simply using the containers as plant pots around the home may be easier.
2. Plastic Bottle Soap Dispenser
Another easy way to prolong the life of your plastic bottles is to turn them into everyday household items like soap dispensers, change jars, or vases.
3. Shipping Container Home
This is the ultimate upcycle idea in my opinion. Actually creating an entire house out of an otherwise trashed shipping container. This idea is actually considerably cheaper than buying a new home with shipping containers only costing around $3,500 dollars and can be completely repurposed and transformed into a home for around $35,000 dollars.
As you can see upcycling is only limited by the individual’s imagination. I hope this gave you some inspiration to never throw anything away needlessly again. There are always creative options that can be used to extend the lives of some of our most prolific waste products, if one has only the eye to look for it.