The term “upcycling” always brings me back to one of my grade school birthdays, when an aunt gifted me a large book titled “1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse.” I fell in love with the book’s cover and expected it to be filled with step-by-step instructions for building my own furniture and decor, but instead, the inside of the book consisted almost entirely of photographs. Rather than a craft guide, “1000 Ideas” functioned more like a Pinterest board; a dense collection of aesthetic inspiration. I was a little put-off by this since, as a kid, I didn’t have the means to replicate what I saw in the photos. One page, for example, featured a beautifully modern dining chair built out of recycled iron rods and a large sheet of molded plastic. Since revisiting the idea of upcycling during this school year, though, I can definitely imagine how useful books like these might be to business and/or homeowners who are looking to invest in unique and sustainable furniture. This book in particular could be a really great resource for promoting the artistic and visually pleasing possibilities in reusing waste materials as well. I think many people (including myself at times) have an instinctive aversion to upcycling, if only because we expect it’ll be a difficult to trust and utilize items when we know they’re made from materials we’d typically view as waste. It would be fantastic to see our culture evolve to recognize the versatility of scrap material before we deem it garbage. In my own experience, it really helps to see successful examples of creative reuse. Here’s a link to that particular book, if anyone’s interested in getting inspired:
Also, while we’re on the topic of creative upcycling, I want to be sure to recommend stopping by SCRAP in Southwest Portland! It’s a phenomenal place to source discarded materials for projects like these, and the store itself is filled with trash-to-treasure example projects to get you thinking. Even if you don’t have a project in mind, it’s a really fun and interesting place to check out; you never know what you’ll find, and everything’s affordable.