It’s no secret that consumerism causes waste. In fact, 99% of what we buy ends up in the trash within six months. This wastefulness not only contributes to the overall global waste crisis but also negates our personal finances. Imagine what you could do with the extra funds if you were a little less wasteful? Not only could you decrease your family’s trash contribution and do your part for the environment, but you could also have a little extra money to do the things you love. This is the theory behind the new trend in upcycling, where people take items that are lying around their home going to waste and repurpose them in new and exciting ways.
Of course, in some instances, this is easier said than done. The Home & Garden channel would have you believe that you can refinish an entire house’s worth of furniture in forty-five minutes or so. In reality, upcycling items in a way that you can enjoy takes time, but it’s well worth the effort if it keeps items out of our landfills and in peoples’ homes.
Ready to become an Upcycler? Here are our top tips for Upcycling your life.
Dedicate a Space to the Work
Repurposing objects in your home can take time and effort. The last thing you want is for your household to become a breeding ground for half-finished projects. Dedicating a space to your work, whether it’s a workshop in the basement or a back corner of your garage, can keep your home feeling orderly and allow you to work on your projects on your own schedule without feeling overly stressed by unfinished work.
You’ll also want to make sure that the space you dedicate to your work is equipped with the right tools and supplies. A sturdy workshop apron can keep your clothes clean and protected from stains and paints.
Stain, Paint, and Fabric
Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself a hugely creative man. Often, we discard items for purely aesthetic reasons: They function just fine, but they no longer match the room they’re in. Learning how to use wood stain, paint, and fabric can salvage many of these pieces with minimal time and effort on your part. For example, say you have a dining room set and you get a new table. You think that the old chairs no longer match your dining room, but if you stain them to match the new table and reupholster the cushions with a fresh fabric, it will feel as if you have all new chairs in the room, but you won’t have to waste the chairs you have.
Keep an Inventory of Items
Everyone has that area in their house—the area where old items go to die. Whether that space in your house is in your basement, your attic, or a back corner of your garage, there’s a good chance that you have a pile of boxes building up dust somewhere with old, mismatched junk piled up.
If you’re holding onto these items anyway, keep track of what they are. Maybe you don’t have a use for an old lamp from college now, but a year from now when your daughter decides to revamp her room, you might decide to pull the lampshade from that lamp and rig it to a decorative vase to create a new, stylish lamp for her use. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, so wait until you need something new in the house, and then look through your inventory and see if there’s a way that you can get what you need without buying something new.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sell
Just because you put the work into upcycling an item doesn’t mean that you have to be the one to keep it. Maybe you have a nice desk in your office that just needs a fresh coat of paint to feel like new again. Putting a little effort into refinishing a piece can make it newly attractive to other families. Selling your used items at flea markets and yard sales can give them new life while still keeping them out of landfills and in homes.