Upcycle Your Life! Top Tips from the Experts
Upcycling is really about turning our concept of waste on its head. It’s about seeing the potential in things and materials that we no longer use. So, we've asked the Revival by CRNI to share their top ten tips designed to help you find a new way of thinking about the things we throw away.
Practically everything can be reused! With this in mind, take a long look at the item you were about to ditch and work through the following check list. If the answer to any of these questions in ‘Yes’, ‘probably’ or ‘maybe’ – then congratulations, you’re well on the way to reuse
- Can it be repaired?
- Can I use it as something else?
- Can it be refashioned for another use?
- Would anyone else get use out of it?
Try to think creatively and laterally about how an item can be upcycled or reused. The more you reuse, the easier this will become.
Be on the look-out for reuse and upcycling ideas. Everything from shop windows to magazine photos can help inspire your new ‘reuse mindset’. Social media is an excellent source of inspiration. Follow upcycling and reuse pages on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for creative thinking on-tap. Have a look at what the Upcycle Movement get up to in Dublin (You could also visit pop-up shop Revival by CRNI, for some serious reuse inspiration).
Chat to your creative friends about your ideas, or start an upcycling group where you can bounce ideas and even get some practical help and advice from other upcycle and reuse enthusiasts.
Once you have your idea – it’s time for research. It might be tempting to break out the paintbrushes, sewing machine or angle-grinder at once, but from our experience it’s best to do some fact-finding and planning. Use Google, your local library or just ask people with the required skills for advice.
Know when you’re out of your depth! If you need to call in an expert to help you with your upcycled master piece, then do so. It’ll save you time, money and stress in the long run.
Reusing small items can be starting place for your new upcycling and reuse life.
- Plant flowers or herbs in a cracked teapot, old tyre, sink or even a washing machine drum
- Start a small bookcase at work to swap and share books
- Make jewellery, art or accessories from reused items. For ideas and inspiration ReCreate Ireland regularly run workshops in making art from end of line materials
- Paint can be reused so instead of leaving it in your garden shed for a year or two, take it to your local recycling or bring centre or to the Rediscover Paint workshop
When rethinking or spring cleaning your wardrobe, try to think of your clothes as textiles and fabric, instead of fodder for your bin
- Repair or restyle an item make it wearable again
- Pass clothes on to friends or even throw a clothes swap-party
- Donate clothes to a reuse organisation such as Rediscover Fashion or to a (reputable!) charity
- Hard-wearing fabrics can be transformed into quirky once-off accessories or useful item, for example, old jeans are perfect raw material for bags, belts or draught excluders
- Older items can be utilised as stuffing for the draught excluder mentioned above or as cloths for cleaning or dusting
Upcycling furniture can breathe new life into your home and save cash not to mention natural resources and carbon emissions.
- Skills such as chalk painting techniques or decoupage help to funk-up a tired or boring piece of furniture. Workshops in furniture upcycling and chalk paint techniques are regularly run by Upside Design in Dalkey
- Solid, but slightly tired timber looks great having been sanded down and varnished up, or even French polished
- Damaged, old-fashioned or overly dark pieces can be given a more contemporary feel by simply painting them
- Donate furniture you really do not want to a (reputable) charity or use exchange web sites such as Free Trade Ireland.com to rehome it?
- Furniture could also be donated to a reuse organisation in your area such as Busy Bees Furniture Recycling, Dublin the Rediscovery Centre, Dublin, VSL Lisburn or Revamp 3R in Longford
The rules and legislation around waste electric and electronic equipment (or WEEE) have become quite strict in recent years, and with good reason as these items often contain very toxic substances and can harm people and planet alike. There are a number of safe ways of reusing your electrical and electronic equipment
- Donate your old PC or laptop to Camara Ireland where it will be cleaned of its data (to US military standard!) and given a new life enhancing education for children in developing countries
- If you’re in the Dublin area, check out Clondalkin Community Recycling Initiative (CCRI), Dublin 24. This project collects WEEE from all over the city
- Local Authority Bring Centres take WEEE and the reusable items are sent on to reuse organisations
Last and certainly not least - Enjoy it! Upcycling can be fun and very satisfying. Getting into reuse and upcycling helps you think differently about how we shop, consume, use and dispose of waste in our everyday lives.
Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI) has recently opened an exciting new city center pop-up store and workshop facility to promote quality redesigned and reused goods. The pop-up, Revival by CRNI, is an EPA-funded project that aims to promote the concept of reuse by showcasing beautifully crafted second-life items. You'll find them on Dame Lane in Dublin's city centre.
Free trade Ireland http://www.freetradeireland.ie/
Rediscovery centre for Rediscover fashion, Rediscover Paint and furniture reuse www.rediscoverycentre.ie
Busybees Furniture Recycling http://www.furniturerecyclingdublin.com/
Revamp 3R store www.revamp3rstore.com/
Charity shops ICSA http://www.icsa.ie/
Camara Ireland www.camaraireland.ie
Upside Design http://www.upside.ie/
ReCreate Ireland http://recreate.ie/
Voluntary Service Lisburn www.vslisburn.com
Upcycle Movement http://www.theupcyclemovement.com/