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Going Green - The Art of Repurposing

Updated on September 10, 2013

Going green does not mean expensive, tedious or a sacrifice, but can make your life easier and more stylish. Gone are the days when recycling consisted of CDs made into tacky window chimes, recycling has evolved into upcycling - the art of creating things like comfortable pallet chairs and stylish furniture! Upcycling is the newest way earth ambassadors are repurposing materials already present in their environment as items serving new and better purposes. The concept of upcycling has been around since the mid 1990s where the goal was stated to prevent wasting potentially useful materials by making use of existing ones not in use; this reduces the consumption of raw materials. This reduction has created ripples which caused reductions in energy usage, air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Upcycling has been used to create usable artistic pieces that are also very functional, similar to their raw material counterparts. There is a great world of upcycled materials and companies who really know the art of repurposing old things into awesome new ones. We need to prolong the life of materials before they end up in the landfill by generating new and innovative ways to do so. Below are 5 great ideas using recycled and upcycled materials to decorate your home in a green and fashionable way.

Repurposed Paper Products

Paper does not only need to be put in the recycling bin or reused as scrap. Find interesting ways to repurpose paper laying around your house. Collect the funny comic sections and wallpaper a wall in your bathroom as a focal point or wrap your children’s school books. Instead of trashing the boxes used after moving, use them for gifts and storage. Scraps of books can be made into mobiles or repurposed into storage units to hide money for a rainy day - find fun and interesting ways to repurpose your paper products!

Here is a great article on a number of ways to reuse paper.

For the Jam and Olive lovers

Mason jars are not just for re-jarring your jams and pickled foods, but can be used to jazz up your home by filling them with fragrant hydrangeas to be hung as mood lighting in your veranda while throwing a bar-be-cue with the family. There is really no reason to toss your old mason jars and all the reason to search out some Pinterest boards online for a plethora of ideas for repurposing.

  • Construct your own Mason Jar Terrarium
  • Organize your spices in Mason Jars
  • Try out some of these Mason Jar recipes


The men’s sweater section in your local thrift store is a gold mine waiting to be discovered by the upcycling genius planning for the cold winter ahead. Peruse the racks at your thrift store, pick up sweaters of every shape and color! Keep your color palette in mind - no green and red combos, unless you’re aiming for a Christmas themed blanket. Take them all home, wash them in cold water and lay them out to dry. Once you’ve prepared your materials, get some scissors, a sewing machine and get crafting! Try making warm blankets to snuggle up with at night, an old fashioned teddy bear for your child to love, pillows for your love seat or perhaps, some cashmere clothes? For a fraction of the price you can create lovely, soft cashmere pieces that could cost hundreds in a store.

  • Check out this great Pinterest board with different ideas of ways you can repurpose a cashmere sweater and give it a new life!
  • Make adorable cupcake pin cushions
  • Purchase these darling repurposed owls on Etsy

Create a sustainable garden by planting your vegetables, flowers and succulents in upcycled fabric pots. These fabric pots by Root Pouch are made fully from recycled plastic water bottles and natural fibers. They create a mesh like surface where, once the roots reach the fabric they become entangled and trapped causing the plant to create new roots. These breathable fabric pots allow for moisture to drain easily, creating a dense, fibrous healthy root system for plants. Upcycle and create a thriving vegetable garden with these stylish and useful pots!

Upcycled Furniture

Take garbage picking to a new level by collecting furniture and vessels of various materials and turn them into stylish organizational pieces for your lounge or office. Make sure you check out local farmer’s markets, flea markets and keep your eyes peeled on trash day when you’re headed to work. Repurposing furniture can be difficult but the end result will make all your hard work worthwhile. Thomas Wood has taken upcycling to the next level with his furniture creations. This craftsmen is from the Bay Area and designs pieces with a modern aesthetic featuring bright pops of color. His pieces are more than just treasures found randomly, it’s clear that there is much thought and skill that goes into fitting all the pieces together. Check out his portfolio of work, it will get you excited and green with envy at some of the creative ways he has upcycled materials into great signature pieces.

Check out how they reused furniture to create an entirely upcycled living space!


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    • TxTigressDesigns profile image

      Lillian Dennis 2 years ago from Texas Transplant in North Dakota

      Just joined and yours is the first one I have fallowed! I am a Recycle Artist and completely love and agree with what your doing...

      Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose and Redesign, That's not only my Goal but is my Passion...I hope to share with others soon and to meet like minded people.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Yasmins Art profile image

      Yasmin Crawford-Hunt 4 years ago from Shenyang, China

      I love finding new ideas for Up-cycling. Voted up. Thanks for the hub!

    • Jetstream profile image

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks so much for voting up and for the positive feedback!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      I am pro-upcycling and love this hub. Pinned and voted up.