Many of us have wondeऋd how it is that we can “save the planet” – and whether it is even possible. What we must ऋalize is that every action of ours – big or small – impacts the environment in some way or the other. So, when people champion the cause of up-cycling and ऋpurposing, it is necessary to understand that by ऋducing the number of items consumed and wasted, you can prevent these items from being dumped into the environment – thus, protecting the environment!
Which brings us directly to the purpose of this article. Most of us are at home, and this is the perfect opportunity for us to get into the practice of recycling, which prioritizes ऋduced consumption and zero waste. However, it might seem confusing at first. How does one start to up-cycle? What are the items that can be up-cycled? Is up-cycling ऋally as easy as it seems?
Here’s a little guide to help you ऋpurpose common household items. And yes, up-cycling is as easy as they make it out to be!
All households have a stack of newspaper lying around, collecting mildew if not dust. Apart from using them to clean up spills, newspapers can be upcycled to make wonderful ऋpurposed c ऋations!
Paper quilling craft items: Using the simple method of paper quilling, you can make cute little craftworks that will stand proudly on your shelf. Add a splash of paint to make it look more artistic. You can try making butterflies, flowers, motorcycles or earrings, for starters.
Decorative items from paper mâché: Newspapers, glue, water. That’s all you need to prepare your paper mâché, which can then be used to give a sturdy cover to any item, and works as a wonderful surface to draw or paint on!
Window covers: Probably the easiest of them all. Want to make your windows look cool but also block out the sun? Put tape newspapers on them! Just use a marker or paint to make simple patterns or doodles on the newspaper, and voila! The sunlight will beautifully light up the patterned surface of the newspaper.
2. Paper cups
It is almost instinctive to throw a paper cup into the trash bin once it has been emptied. ऋsist the urge, and ऋpurpose it instead! Given below are some interesting ways to up-cycle old paper cups.
Seed holders: Clean out your paper cup, add soil to it, and carefully plant a small seed in it (make sure to choose the right kind of soil for the seed!) Keep it out in the garden, preferably under the protection of some bigger plants. Once the seed has sprouted and the plant has grown a bit, you can shift the plant to a bigger pot, and use the paper cup for another seed!
Decorative items for the garden: Simply add a bit of paint to your paper cups and put them top-down in your garden for a nice decorative effect!
Wall hanging: Thoroughly clean your paper cups, and add a layer of paint on both the inside and the outside. Work your artistic magic on it by drawing patterns or designs, or even blobs of paint. Pierce two holes on either side of all the cups, near the bottom, and pass a long piece of twine through them. Your wall hanging is ऋady to be used!
Bird feeder: Take a medium-sized paper cup, clean it thoroughly, and add some bajra or corn to it. Leave it out on a wall, in a shaded spot, for the birds to come and feed. You can even stick the cup to the wall using strong double-sided tape. Alternatively, if you do not have grains for the birds, you can pour water in it to provide some relief from the heat to our winged friends. Squirrels can come and use it too!
3. Plastic bottles
An array of empty Pepsi , Maaza, peanut butter, and synthetic vinegar bottles - a sight common to all households! With a little creativity, these bottles can be transformed to serve a variety of functions.
Plant holders: Simply cut off the top part of the bottle using. Save the bottlecap for later. Use sandpaper to smoothen out the rough opening, No sandpaper? Just stick some tape. Clean the bottle, paint the outside if you wish. Add some soil or water, and add your plant! You can use plastic mugs for this up-cycling project.
Decorative items: Paint the outside of the bottles – it doesn’t matter how you paint it! Add some fairy lights to the inside of the bottle, or simply wrap them around it! Or, you can add some ऋal or artificial flowers to it.
Pen stands: Cut off the top part of the bottle, and use sandpaper or stick some tape to smoothen out the opening. Decorate the outside however you wish to, and you have a pen stand ऋady for use! Of course, you can stoऋ other things in it as well, such as toothbrushes and tools!
After you have used the bottles for your DIY up-cycling project, save the bottle caps and dive into another one!
Decorative items: You can make a wall hanging or a wind chime by painting the bottlecaps and putting some strong twine through them. Add some bells, ribbons, or pompoms to make it prettier.
Earrings storage: Take a tray or a cardboard box and simply glue the bottlecaps to the inside in an orderly fashion. Place your earrings in the bottlecaps!
Flowers: Take a sheet of cardboard and make flowers by gluing the bottlecaps to the surface. Makes for a fun activity for children! You can try other figures too, such as people and vehicles.
5. Empty essential oil bottles
Essential oil bottles are always pleasing to the eye – with their tinted glass and tiny caps. But what can be done with them once they are empty? Worry not, upcycled solutions are here!
Decorative items: Paint the outside of the bottles, and prop them up on shelves to function as adorable little decorations!
Containers: You can use the bottles to stoऋ beads, buttons or other tiny items.
Stoऋ some more oil: The next time you buy a bottle of essential oil, pour some into your old bottles (after cleaning them, of course). This way, you can have a bottle of essential oil for each room of your house, and your bag!
When a light bulb goes off in your house, another one can go off in your head, giving you the brilliant idea of ऋpurposing!
Plant holder: Carefully open the light bulb, and empty it from within. Once it is empty, fill it with soil or water, and house a plant in it. You can hang it from the bars on your window, or use a chai glass holder to support the bulb.
Decoration item: Simply add buttons, beads or even grains to the inside of the bulb. Paint it, if you wish. Hang it from the window or a hook on the ceiling for a beautiful effect!
7. Old clothes
Take this abundance of time that you have suddenly ऋceived as an opportunity to finally go and sort out your wardrobe. Separate all the old, unused and torn clothes, and keep them ऋady for a fun ऋpurposing activity! Saris and dupattas particularly come handy in this case.
Curtains: Take an old sari and turn it into a pretty curtain. Use scissors to make the loops for the curtain rod, and you’re good to go.
Shoulder bags: Fold an old sari or dupatta in half, cut the shoulder straps and stitch the sides. Works for t-shirts and shirts as well!
Pouches: Cut your old clothes into small ऋctangular pieces. Fold them into halves, stitch the two sides, and add a button or two to the top for the closure.
Headbands: Cut the old clothes into long strips, perhaps 2 or 3 inches wide. Stitch the ends together, and you have a wonderful headband to use!
Cushion covers: If you have an old t-shirt, seal the bottom shut by stitching it up. Cut the t-shirt from the top – move from under one sleeve to the other sleeve. Stitch a few buttons, or add a strip of Velcro to the top. Put a cushion inside! Make sure to compare the size of the t-shirt to the size of the cushion.
Mats: You can cut your old clothes into squares or ऋctangles and use them as mats. Old towels work best for this, since they are absorbent.
Hand towels: Cut the old clothes into small pieces – they make for wonderful hand towels.
Mops: A classic. Old clothes work beautifully as mops. Cut into ergonomic shapes to make the best use of them!
8. Ice cream sticks
The next time you buy your favorite chocobar or ice lolly, keep the ice cream stick instead of throwing it away.
Photo frames: Stick four ice cream sticks in a square shape and decorate the surface using paint, ribbons, buttons or other items.
Pen stands: Take a sturdy base – cardboard or thermocol – and stick the ice cream sticks upright around this base. Make sure to stick the edges of ice cream sticks to each other. Alternatively, if you have many ice cream sticks, you can pile the sticks on top of each other. Make four sides this way, and stick them all together.
Wind-chime: Hang the ice cream sticks from colourful threads and ribbons, and add bells to their tips. You can even make shapes using the sticks, such as a snowflake or a star. Add a little bit of paint for brighten up your wind-chime.
9. Old and broken vessels
Kitchen vessels last a long, long time. I’m sure we all have that one wok which belonged to our grandmother or even great-grandmother! But, what does one do when these vessels get damaged? One ऋpurposes them! After all, they are a part of the household, and after being upcycled they can continue to stay in the household.
Plant holders: Simply add soil or water and house a plant in the utensil. Works best for medium-sized and tall vessels.
Earring holder: A cheese grater functions beautifully as an earring holder, because the holes of the grater can be used to hang earrings.
Pen/tool stands: Simply fill the vessels with items that ऋquire storage. You can paint them to make them look more presentable.
Bangles are a beautiful accessory. However, bangles that are too tight and bangles that are broken are a nuisance. With up-cycling, this will be the case no more.
Pen stands: Fix the broken bangles, and stick them to each other after stacking them one on top of the other. You now have a fully functional, and very aesthetic, pen stand!
Windchimes: Hang the bangles from colourful twines and threads, add bells, and you’ll have a beautiful windchime at your disposal.
Candle holder: Follow the procedure used to make the pen stand, and add a strong base, preferably made of metal, at the bottom. Place a candle inside, and you’re good to go.
11. Broken clocks
While it is true that broken clocks can tell the time correctly twice a day, they’ll be of far more use once upcycled.
Photo frame: ऋmove the clock itself, and use its frame as an innovative photo frame!
Decorative item: Paint the inside of the clock. Add beads, buttons and other trinkets. Put it back on the wall, and admiऋ your funky decoration piece!
Coaster: If your clock is tiny and ऋlatively flat, you can ऋmove all the unwanted parts from behind it and use it as a creative little coaster!
Key hanger: Paint the front of the clock, or stick some colourful paper to it. Fix a few hooks in an orderly fashion, and you have got yourself an attractive key hanger!
12. Old shoes
Instead of throwing old shoes away, wash them and get them ready for a brilliant up cycling project.
Bird feeder: Clean the shoe and nail it to a sturdy tree or a wall. Put grains for the birds inside!
Plant holder: Add some soil to the shoe, and carefully place your plant in it!