Garbage on trend– how to upcycle your old junk into something stylish

Spring is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about sprucing up your backyard to get it ready for summer BBQs and get-togethers. Easier said that done when we know how expensive it is to hire proper landscapers and gardeners. Even plants and flowers can be costly when you’re going DIY on your property. Well, it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune if you’re creative about it. This spring you’re going to decorate without spending a cent – and we’re going to tell you how.

Junk on trend

Repurposing junk before you throw it away for the weekly rubbish collection is becoming a popular past time for some. The idea of repurposing junk is hardly a new one, we’ve been recycling for years, but upcycling is a little different.

The concept of Upcycling was born in 1994; it’s the process of taking something old and turning it into something new and useful. The upcycling boom is in part down to a global backlash against consumerism from the “boomer years”, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Nowadays you’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of Pinterest pages dedicated to the art of upcycling. This art of reusing discarded objects bound for the rubbish skip in a new and innovative way has developed into a proper community of “makers” who love to share and swap ideas. And it doesn’t just stop at your Pinterest board. Turn on the TV and you’ll see plenty of programmes showing you how to turn a tin can into a birdfeeder or old window panes into a hothouse.

Gone are the days of buying super expensive garden ornaments – no one wants all that over-priced stuff made from sweatshops in China. It all ends up at the rubbish dump eventually. It’s much more fashionable to add style and flair to your property through do-it-yourself upcycling.

The Rise and Rise of Etsy

If you take a look at Etsy, the world’s infamous online marketplace for the best handmade products all around the world you’ll be astounded by the amount of goods that come tagged with the “upcycled”. The jewellery section leads the pack with a whopping 59,735 listings, but home and living trail close by with an impressive 29,180 listings. From upcycled hot pink dinosaurs that are used as planters to simple mason jars welded to wooden planks for a funky herb garden, whatever it is you’re after you’ll find it here. And they aren’t the only ones.

The new website remadeinbritain.com is the first UK shop window for businesses who are dedicated to repurposing some of the 280m tonnes of waste the British produce each year. With over 300 registered retailers already, the trend is only going to get stronger. They sell everything from lighting to clothing, jewellery and house hold decorations. The response has been overwhelmingly positive for the owners – but they’re not surprised. Everyone knows how mush stuff is thrown away and with the globalisation of the world, people struggle making their homes unique. Upcycled goods are very one of kind, depending on how much money you’re willing to spend! Canada, the USA, and even fancy-pants France have cottoned-on to how cool upcycling is.

Upcycle, recycle, or time for junk removal?

Upcycling might seem like the flavour of the month right now, but it’s hardly a new invention. Folk Art has always been a part of mainstream culture and its foundation is built on making art out of recycled goods. Before people became so consumer-driven, they used to reuse house hold things or turn them into something else: sheets into rags, tin cans into planters, and broken plates into mosaics! Upcycling, before it became so popular, used to be a way for homes to save money. Then, when recycling became trendy, upcycling was used as a means to stop our garbage dumps from overflowing. Now, it’s a way to create a one-of-a-kind home while saving money and saving the planet.

You might be thinking “Ew, I don’t want junk in my house or strewn about my lawn!” Well, you’ve missed the point entirely! A lot of upcycled goods are made through a serious transformation process. Some artisans are able to craft unique pieces of art for your yard and home. Old, broken, useless things can be turned into something spectacular with a little bit of hard work and a lot of creativity.

Upcycling Basics

There’s a bit of confusion as to what defines upcycling. Simply speaking upcycling is the process of turning useless products into new, better quality products. Easy. If you want to know the difference between upcycling and recycling, look no further:

  • Recycling is the process of converting materials into a different product
  • Upcycling converts waste materials or useless products into new things quality

With upcycling you’re putting together something new by using old materials you would normally throw away. This not only reuses an old item, but reduces both what goes into the landfill and what you might otherwise purchase. Both techniques are obviously great for the environment, but upcycling has more charm in its ability to give items that have been left behind, forgotten or unused a new lease on life:

  • an old pallet destined for the dump can become a gorgeous coffee table
  • an old stepladder becomes a bookshelf instead of firewood
  • a bicycle becomes a sink (and its basket the towel rack) rather than a rusted pile of junk

Reinventing junk

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and junk can be turned into beautiful household items with a little bit of work. Artists all over the world are able to craft exciting pieces of furniture and home décor from litter to bits and pieces found scattered around the house. That’s part of the art: being able to see beauty in something that most people would overlook. Just because it’s junk, doesn’t mean it can’t be turned into treasure! The upcycling look doesn’t have to be charmingly folksy – in fact, posh cultures embrace that slightly faded glamour-puss look, and they’ve even named it ‘shabby chic’. Beautifully frayed silk curtains and peeling paint are par for the course when you adding some shabby to your chic, but you get fancier than that. At the top end of the market, designers create beautifully made upcycled pieces that come with an impressive price tag.

That said, your upcycled project doesn’t have to look like garbage or cost the earth for it to transform the look and feel of your home or garden. If you want to try your hand at recycling and you don’t have the money or time to go out hunting for choice pieces of copper and glass, all you need is a little paint, a piece of old furniture, and a paint brush. Painting old furniture is both sensible and very practical because old furniture is well made, incredibly endurable, and crafted out of better materials. With a little ingenuity and a coat of some on point paint colour like duck egg blue or avocado green, you can give your old furniture a makeover and voila -You’re upcycling!

Save the world and your mind!

The challenge of transforming your everyday stuff that has run its course into useful or decorative objects can help you tone up those creative muscles! It’s an ideal family activity, and an antidote to work and life stress. Have you noticed the hype with adult colouring books lately? Too many of us work too much and don’t take the time to release our creative energies. By putting aside a few hours each week to go through your house and find things to upcycle you’ll find yourself more relaxed, with a new creative flair, and eye-catching homeware to rival any Briscoes store.

As you know our beloved Internet is bursting with incredible ideas on how to upcycle your everyday junk into beautiful creations. Here are some of the simplest and coolest upcycle projects that anyone can do, even if you think you don’t have a crafty side at all!

Top 10 Household Items to Reuse

  1. Smash Palace: Collect your broken china to re-tile outdoor tables, flower pots, paths, or as a unique border for your garden. You can find great mosaic ideas on the web and it doesn’t take much skill. Go a step further and mosaic your mirror frames, coffee tables and fireplace… You can use broken plates and saucers as edging around garden areas or trees. Don’t fill up your wheelie bin with tired crockery, upcycle!
  1. Container Party: Glass jars and metal tins are easily recycled, but why not cut down on household waste by reusing them? Both make great containers for desk organisers, bathroom containers, plants and even bulk pantry goods. There are so many ways to reuse mason jars beyond food canning – you can use them as storage containers, drinking mugs, candle holders, and even lamps if you’re handy with wiring.
  1. Light my fire: You know all those bottle caps and wine caps you’ve got around the house after a bender, er, house party?! Well, great news! You can repurpose them into really cool tea light candles. All you need to do is clean the caps, add a wick and pour in some melted wax. Get creative and add some essential oils to the mix for a wonderful fragrance. IF you’re feeling particularly creative, melt old crayons for the wax instead of chucking them into the rubbish bin.
  1. As the world turns: If you’ve got a globe that’s old and ratty, stop right there! You can cut it in half and turn the halves into lamp shades by drilling a hole at the top and weaving a light fixture through them! If that seems a bit too ambitious for you, paint the insides of the globes and use them as fruit bowls in your kitchen. They’d make great wall art, too!
  1. Call all swingers: A chair that has lost its legs is useless in your dining room but could be perfect for your kids – when you take the time to turn it into a swing! Take old chair and paint it, add some hardware and hang it from your porch or a large tree in your yard. Just because the legs aren’t sturdy doesn’t mean you can’t do something creative with them!


When to choose junk removal over upcycling

A lot salvageable material ends up in our landfills. Just think of your own rubbish bag that you put out every week – how much of the stuff in there is reusable? But not all of us have time to repurpose junk, or upcycle our old trampoline frame.

Junk2Go’s rubbish removal process takes into account anything that can be recycled, and we deliver it to our partners to have it processed appropriately. And we don’t use plastic bags to do it! We collect your junk, right from your home or back yard, and place it in our trucks to be processed at local facilities. Get in touch today to get junk removal in the Auckland area.

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