Upcycling possibilities are only limited by imagination

OKEECHOBEE — “Upcycling” and “recycling” are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not actually the same. According to UpcycleThat.com, upcycling is defined as “The act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function. In doing so, the finished product often becomes more practical, valuable and beautiful than what it previously was.” On the other hand, a recycled product is completely broken down and made into something new, often a lesser-quality product. However, both of these alternatives are preferable to having an item end up in the local landfill.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are great sources for those who enjoy searching for treasures they can change into a work of art. Rachel O’Neil is a frequent shopper at the ReStores. “Sometimes it can be as simple as a coat of paint. It is amazing how just a different color of paint will really bring the piece out,” she said.

Goodwill, Faith Farm, yard sales, thrift stores and grandma’s attic are all sources for things that can be upcycled. Several years ago when televisions went from being huge monsters in wall units, to being flat screens that hung on walls, many people got rid of their entertainment centers. Every thrift store in town was over run with them, and suddenly upcyclers had an idea. They turned them into kitchens for little girls, and they were beautiful. The spot where the television used to be became the sink with a window behind it, and the cabinet where all your DVDs used to be became the refrigerator.

When people stopped using coffee tables, upcyclers were there again to save the day. “I know what this can be,” someone said. “It’s a Lego table. All it needs is a hole cut into it and a bag sewn on to catch the Legos.”

Upcycling isn’t new, says Hipcycle.com. Grandma did it in the 1930s and ’40s. Back then they used everything over and over again. Charlotte Delagall spoke recently about her mother making her dresses from flour sacks when she was a girl, and Beedie Mae Thomas said the same thing. It used to be very common to reuse the things you had because back then they did not have the resources to just go out and buy new things any time they pleased, and sometimes there was nowhere to go to buy those things anyway. If you lived in the middle of nowhere, you learned to make your own clothes.

“You made do,” as Ms. Thomas said.

Hipcycle offers a multitude of suggestions for upcycling:
• Use a wine rack as a towel holder.
• Aluminum cans spray painted make nice pencil holders.
• Glass jars covered with fabric can be used as vases.
• Old vinyl records are turned into clocks; old frying pans can be.
• An old dresser can become a little girl’s dress up closet.
• A bookcase can be turned into a dollhouse.
• A tool bench for a child can be made from an old nightstand.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. A lack of imagination doesn’t have to hold you back because in this day and age, you can jump on the internet and borrow someone else’s imagination if you need to.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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