OCTOBER 21, 2013 BY 

In preparation for our November Talking Green event on Upcycling with Terracycle, we welcomed guest writer Linda Bailey to elaborate on the artistic value of upcycled products.

We all know that recycling waste can save on the amount of trash that is forced into a landfill, but do you know the artistic value of using wasted items? Upcycling is the process of re-purposing waste items in order to serve a new need. For instance, you may see an old toilet being used as a flower planter in someone’s yard. You may even “upcycle” your own stuff without even realizing it such as using an old cloth diaper as an oil rag in your garage. Upcycling can help reduce the waste in our landfills when we put a more artistic view in the trash. Some artists will actually go to great lengths in order to produce amazing works of art using simple refused items. What does it take in order to create a work of art that can be remembered?

1. Ridiculousness – Like the example above of using a toilet as a flower planter, some of the allure of using random items can be explained by the ridiculousness of the feature. It’s a method that stands out like a phosphorescent beacon in a room of UV lights as you drive down any given street. The sheer ridiculousness of any given item will burn itself into your mind.

2. Reassignment – Items that usually don’t have any connection can be combined to create something new or unique. As in the example above, the bowl of a toilet can be used as a replacement for anything that requires a container. A work of art doesn’t have to be merely hung on the wall or standing in the corner of the room. Upcycling materials can provide you with the  means to create an artistic creation of a practical component. For instance, one could make a cat bed out of an old hard-shell suitcase top and old blanket.

3. An Eye for the Not-so-Obvious – Although there are some objects laying around the home that are more obvious for upcycling than others, it may take a certain personality to create a truly amazing piece that can be a viral sensation on the Internet though images. This could come in the form of using an old bike sprocket as the face of a clock for the rider in the home. This comes from looking at an object and thinking about what else it could be used for. While some developments may take a bit more modification, the end result could be something that no one has ever seen before.

4. Imagination – Like any artistic creation, upcycled art takes a bit of imagination. While it’s not required to have one, it can help you determine ways to use an item for another use. This will help you look at a two-liter bottle and discover how they can be used to make a greenhouse as the walls and roof. Broken bits of crayons can be melted down to form a rainbow swirl of color as a painting. You’re only limited by your own imagination. Upcycled items can be both functional and pleasing to look at. It’s the process of turning one person’s trash into your own work of art. While some items you may not want to use in your creations, a large portion of what is thrown away can easily be used to serve another purpose. What are some items around your home that can be used as an artistic expression of upcycling?
Author Bio:
This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from www.housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping@gmail.com