Upcycling During Social Distancing Times

Upcycling During Social Distancing Times

Posted 2020-04-07 by Marie Vonowfollow
ImagePublic Domain Pictures from Pixabay

I really like the concept of upcycling. In times gone by items were often upcycled from necessity. Resources were in short supply (for example during and after world wars and the Great Depression) or it was common for families to be on a limited budget. Then the standard of living improved with many households having two wage earners so there was more money but less time. Skills were lost and people wanted new and shiny. Bargain and op shops popped up everywhere. Why upcycle a jar into a vase when you could buy one for $3? Then along came COVID19 and the need for social distancing.

I read the following definition of upcycling in Upcycle Magazine, 'Upcycling is taking an item that is no longer needed or wanted and giving it new life as something that is either useful or creative.'

Why upcycle during social distancing times?
Some people are turning to upcycling projects at the moment because they -
  • have lots of free time
  • want a distraction from the current crisis
  • want to learn new skills
  • want to do something creative
  • are becoming more conscious of consumerism and want to change the way they approach life
  • don't have spare cash
  • are worried about the future
  • can't go to the shops to browse and buy knick knacks
  • want to be more environmentally responsible

  • Imagecitypraiser from Pixabay

    What can we learn from bygone days?
    Lessons can be learnt from past generations. In bygone days people upcycled by -
  • reusing planks of wood from kerosene boxes and wood pallets to make furniture
  • making the good parts of worn clothing into clothes or toys for children
  • using fabric from old curtains to make cushions, aprons and clothes
  • making patchwork quilts from scraps of fabric
  • decorating jars and tins to use as vases and to store flour, sugar, spices and such
  • embellishing jars and cans to hold string, pencils, kitchen utensils and tools
  • cutting old car tyres and making them into garden ornaments
  • using a car tyre as a swing
  • using part of an old metal bed as a gate

  • How has social distancing changed my outlook on upcycling?
    Previously I often felt -
  • it wasn't worth the effort of upcycling something when new or second hand items were available readily and cheaply.
  • I didn't have the time to research instructions for doing a project
  • I had so many other things to do rather than upcycle
  • I thought the resulting upcycled item might look amateurish

  • Now I am not going going to aqua exercise classes, meeting friends for coffee, browsing op shops or going to my writers' group so I have more time to research instructions and actually do some upcycling projects. I don't have the option of buying from a bargain or op shop.

    Possible upcycling projects for modern times
    Depending on your skills and materials available, you might be able to keep yourself busy -
  • making bird houses or decorative items out of scrap wood
  • building furniture or planter boxes from wood pallets
  • converting jars into vases
  • decorating cans for storing pencils, craft tools, etc
  • decoupaging cardboard boxes as storage containers
  • painting discarded metal pots, teapots, kettles etc as garden containers
  • making paper mache bowls for storage or display
  • making jewellery
  • sewing patchwork quilts, clothing, bags, cushions and more
  • mending and adding decorative touches to clothing
  • using old tiles or broken china items for mosaics
  • decorating small boxes with old buttons, scraps of coloured paper
  • repairing, painting and decorating old items of furniture
  • creating art work using old wood, left over house paint, scraps of metal and the like

  • Patchwork can be used to make various things ImageJulia S from Pixabay

    At the present time there are problems with getting materials for some upcycling projects, especially if you have done lots of decluttering. A short time ago it would have been okay to grab some supplies from an op shop. One could have collected items from Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, garage sales or family members who live in another house.

    These are generally not options at the moment as we are told to stay at home unless leaving the house is essential. Therefore there is greater need to make use of what we already have.

    Fortunately many items such as glue, paint and wire which may be needed to complete a project can be ordered online and delivered. Sometimes thinking outside the box will help you come up with an alternative material.

    At the moment there are more reasons than ever for upcycling. It could fill in spare time, help you stay positive, boost your creativity, provide a way of using up spare materials, give you activities to do with your children, inspire others and make you feel more self reliant and confident in the future.


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