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Pull Tab Art & Upcycling

Updated on February 6, 2018


Upcycling is a component of sustainability in which the use of waste materials to provide new products. It is generally a reinvestment in the environment. This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.

"Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value."

The term upcycling was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

Cradle to Cradle; the coining of the term "upcycle"


History and Evolution

The pull tab was invented in 1959 by a tool maker from Ohio called Ermal Fraze. Legend says he found himself at a picnic, with his beer and no can opener, or churchkey, to open the beer cans.

Since then, the tab has come a long way. By 1965, three quarters of all breweries in the US were using them.

But for all their convenience, the pull tabs were an environmental nightmare. For 10 years people opened cans, ripped off the pull-tabs and threw them to the side because they were encouraged to - there was nothing else to do with these removable metal pieces. Pets and wildlife died from ingesting them, as did a few people who dropped them into a can and accidentally choked on them. They wound up everywhere - from beaches and parks, to playgrounds and garbage disposals. People routinely cut themselves in a time when hand sanitizer wasn't in everyone's pockets.

In 1975, the stay-on tab was invented and now it takes a little more work to take them off.

Tab Art Videos on YouTube

Links to Pull Tab Art

The WWWW (Wonderful World Wide Web) is full of beautiful work, upcycling the pull tabs. Here are just a few...

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    • KateHonebrink profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow, these pop tab ideas are awesome! Love them! Congrats on making the upcycling monsterboard!

    • ecycler profile image


      7 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Great ideas! We found a woman that takes bottle caps and upcycles them into cufflinks and other jewelry:

    • JJNW profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      What fun ideas! I love using freebies for crafting!

    • ewguru lm profile image

      ewguru lm 

      7 years ago

      Fun With Pulltabs great stuff

    • noobeegin profile image


      8 years ago

      WOW! What great ideas for the pull tab. Awesome lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Gives me some ideas for pop tops. Great lens

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      It has been a problem buying hand can opener, we always need to replace it because its rusty, then i decided to buy an Electric Can Opener.

    • Jmel37 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very cool ideas here. I really like that purse! I used pull tabs to create two chairs which I donated to the Ronald McDonald house (since that is what they collect). I have pictures of them on my own lens!

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      8 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Beautiful recycled material art!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      10 years ago from Croatia

      Beautiful artwork! Welcome to Reuse it all! group!


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