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Upcycling: A Perfect Hobby for Fall, Winter and Beyond

Remember the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Whoever came up with that one was on to something. Gone should be the days when we simply throw something out after it’s served its purpose or we tire of it, or it seems broken beyond repair. 

The planet is full of our trash—discarded clothing, furniture, food wrappers, water bottles, and all sorts of household items. We’ve known for quite some time that this is not a sustainable model, but we are now at a point where it’s crystal clear that we need to make changes if we hope to have a bright future. Enter upcycling. 

Upcycling is the process of repurposing discarded materials or products and turning them into new, higher-quality objects that have artistic or environmental value. It’s really one of the most creative hobbies out there, and once you start, I’m betting you will be hooked. Not only are you helping the planet when you upcycle, you are also transforming your “trash” into one-of-a-kind pieces your friends and family will admire.

Where do you start? Take a look around your house. Do you have an old dresser that is  scratched, damaged, or with  drawers doesn’t open smoothly anymore? Have you been thinking about trashing it and getting a new one? Before you do, take a look at this inspiring article from The Spruce showing what some upcyclers have done to transform their old dressers. Who knew an old piece of furniture could look so good? Now that you see the potential in that old dresser, take another stroll around your house to figure out what purpose it could serve if you upcycled it. The key here is creativity. 

Now for that new dresser you’re thinking about purchasing…before you do, think about buying secondhand. I know what you’re thinking. Why would I want to replace my old  dresser with someone else’s old dresser? Well, I can only assume that the people who discarded their old dressers did not see this article from Tip Hero. Imagine your new dresser completely designed by you, with your personality written all over it, and no one else can ever buy that exact one! You can’t say that about a purchase from Ikea (no offense to Ikea).

Secondhand stores are all around us; simply do a Google search for “secondhand” or “used” furniture to find stores in your area. Another great place to find used furniture is yard sales, estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets. There are some amazing pieces out there just waiting for you to reimagine them! 

Upcycling certainly doesn’t stop at dressers! You probably have all kinds of household items that could be upcycled into something new rather than discarded. Aluminum cans, empty wine bottles, old window frames, and even cinder blocks can all be reimagined into something unique and new. Check out some inspiring ideas in this article from Good Housekeeping.

So, if you like this planet, and I know you do, consider upcycling. Get out there and hit those yard sales, secondhand furniture stores, Facebook marketplace, or your own garage or basement. And get your upcycling groove on! 

Online resources for obtaining household items you can upcycle or donate items to others:

  • Beyond the Bin: An online resource for recycling, reusing, or repurposing items that don't belong in your household recycling bin in Massachusetts. 
  • Donation Town: Find a Massachusetts nonprofit that will pick up your donations for free! 
  • Household Goods Recycling: Household Goods, Inc. provides a full range of donated furniture and household items, free of charge, to help people in need make a home.