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Blog Post on DIMMBLA ; “Environmental Activism through Upcycling”

dimmbla blogCheck my  first ever blog post!

The term upcycling – repurposing has become very trendy nowadays among people wishing to live a more sustainable lifestyle. So what exactly is it?

To be perfectly honest, it is a lifestyle, which was the norm before the industrial revolution’s consumerism driven global expansion spread, and plastic started to seep into our households, not only in the form of packaging but also household items.

When ordinary items were made to last and there wasn’t an excess of these with a disposable nature, or single-use packaging was non-existent, people made do with what they had and thought each purchase over thoroughly before committing. Yes, certainly, in comparison things were more expensive than nowadays, however, most often things were only bought once.

In the case that an object lost its original use, it often would be up-cycled. Turned into something new. Such as a cracked pot becoming a flower pot or worn-out clothes turned in to rags for cleaning with. 

With less cash readily available and people more occupied with running a household, toiling their fields, the idea of buying useless items was unheard of. Why would you buy a rag to clean with and why throw out an old torn and stained shirt if you can use it to clean with?

The love and admiration of beauty nevertheless, has always been an integral part of life. Be it through clothing, jewelry, furniture or paintings. Its appreciation was deemed so high, that ordinary people would cherish each special piece as an heirloom, as a treasure to be kept and passed down. Obviously if one would get bored with an item, they could revamp it, rearrange it, recycle it. Skills such as sewing, mending, basic carpentry were ordinary skills most people had.

Upcycling is basically an association game – what does the item remind you of, what else can it be used for?

Nowadays with so much single-use packaging and low-quality items, all you need to ask yourself before throwing something out is; ‘

  • How easy would it be to revamp this?’
  • Do you really need food containers branded as ‘food containers-lunch boxes’,
  • or would an ice-cream box also do the trick?
  • When gifting, do you really need to buy gift-wrapping or can you use a shoebox and decorate it?

It is inevitable to avoid plastic and often unnecessary packaging, however, there should be no shame in upcycling some. Plastic can be coated with paper, paint, fabric, anything really – so it is really easy to disguise. 

When in a situation that you must buy something to replace a broken item or simply fill a void or buy a gift, ask yourself if it has to be brand spanking new.

  • Can it be sourced 2nd hand?
  • Can it be fixed?
  • Can it be bartered?
  • Does your mother really need a new vase, your father a new pair of socks, your son a new bookshelf?

Upcycling can be a fun family – team building- activity! 

When moving to our new home, I gave my teenage boys a budget to ‘play’ with for their rooms.

They had shared a room up until recently, with a bunk bed and shared wardrobe, desk – everything.

The only advice I gave them was to consider designing bespoke furniture from alternative materials or scouting around on used marketplaces before opening an Ikea catalog, further tempting them that whatever excess money they have left, they can spend on electronics or put into savings.

Introducing them to Pinterest was the best thing I did! They had both opted to redecorate already available furniture from other family members’ attics, we made them beds from pallets and one of my sons even made shelving from old skateboards and piping.

Their self-satisfaction was noteworthy, as was mine as a proud mother!

Never underestimate your crafting and building skills! We all do art and craft at school and also, let’s not forget the matrix of YouTube and Pinterest for inspiration 🙂