Upcycle for National Upcycling Day: Simple ways to save the planet

Upcycling is the term used when you reuse an object to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. This method is brilliant for focussing on the sustainable use of household goods through recycling items rather than being wasteful.

There are some really easy things to upcycle, others are slightly more complex but it depends on the type of project you want to take on! I’d recommend having a look on Pinterest for loads of creative ideas.

Cardboard boxes

It is easy to end up with a lot of boxes as a result of ordering things online and having them delivered but these boxes can be used for lots of useful things – even better if you upcycle them to make them look better!

You can cover the box in old wrapping paper, especially scraps or cut offs from wrapping gifts or you could paint it and attach labels so you can store different things in them.

Jars

A really good way to upcycle a clean empty jar is by doing something called découpage – this is the craft of gluing coloured paper, dried/pressed flowers or other decorative items to the glass jar (it can also be done on other surfaces) – instructions can be found online.

You could also upcycle it by using glass paint.

Your jar can then be used as a pencil pot, kitchen utensil holder or a decorative light if you add battery operated fairy lights.

Tins

Tins from baked beans and soups etc. are great to use as planters or for storing things like pencils or paintbrushes.

After you’ve used the food from the tin, make sure you wash it out with soap and let it dry. Then you can upcycle it by painting it or pasting magazines or newspapers on it – there are lots of ideas and tutorials online!

Furniture

This can be a bit of a bigger upcycling project, but the outcome of upcycling a piece of furniture is really rewarding.

A great place to look for furniture in your local area is Facebook Marketplace – remember to look out for reputable sellers and meet somewhere safe!

Last summer I bought a small table for £5 off Facebook Marketplace – I got small tester pots from Wilko for £1.50, a small amount of the tester wallpaper also from Wilko (free), and a pack of paintbrushes from Poundland. I really enjoyed upcycling it and it worked really well in my room in my uni house!

Before
After

Clothes

Again, this is one of the more complicated upcycling projects, but you can do things that are within your ability. Start simple by adding embellishments to simple clothing like t-shirts – you can use scraps from other clothing, fabric or hair accessories to do this. You could also upcycle your clothes by doing something as simple as umpciking the sleeves and creating a vest type top instead!