Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Defining Upcycling - by Kelly Kellie from QuietStoryTellers

The issue with talking about upcycling isn’t what can we talk about, it is how long would you like to talk about this? Upcycling itself can be considered a dialog between you and the item you hold in your hands. Should I throw this away? What else it is good for? Will I ever use it? Will someone else? 

Generally speaking recycling is easy because someone else does that for us. We drink our milk, rinse out the gallon jug, deposit it in the recycling bin. Then next summer we purchase a lawn chair made with 90% post consumer plastic, sit down, and put our feet up knowing we have made a positive impact toward maintaining the planet and our bones.

But upcycling is different. Along with the milk gallon, the cereal box is empty, too. And it doesn’t recycle in our area. The dilemma is: do we save this until we have a trunk full than cart it to the nearest recycling station 40 minutes away or do we do something with it right here at the kitchen table? Forty minutes away when there is no other purpose for the trip seems a waste of gas. The box is already sitting on the table.

This is how I began using cereal boxes as the base for hang tags, collage tags, and note cards. Some boxes are decorative enough they can simply be cut to size and used. Some need more help. That’s when going to the library book sale seems like a good idea. No good books are ever injured in the making of my items. But mangled books, terrible stories, and outdated reference materials are used all the time. With a little sewing thread or non-toxic glue (although I still haven’t found a good use for the glue bottle—I wish I could!) the erstwhile trash becomes a unique item that serves a purpose and stays out of a landfill—at least for now.

Another use for unwanted books (and one of my favorites!) is using thin book pages and weaving them into coasters. Every loom I use has warp waste, so I don’t stop with these paper coasters. I make an effort to upcycle what many weavers throw away: the short fibers cut from between the loom and the woven piece, the thrums. I upcycle these thrums into fiber coasters.

Upcycling, traditionally called thrift or reuse, has been the weaver’s friend since time immemorial. As I sit here writing this, I am looking at one of the many handwoven rugs found in my home. It contains the first curtains we hung in our new home, my husband’s old robe, a shirt I never really liked and one I wore every chance I had. It contains childhood memories and the promise of sweet memories to come. 

Upcycling, no matter what is made, contains beauty. It requires imagination and thought. It relies not on manufacturing something, but on making something using what is already manufactured. It is making something positive out of something negative—and that is truly beautiful.

To view more of Kelly's work please visit:
QuietStorytellers - Etsy Shop
Kelly - Etsy Profile
QuietStorytellers - Facebook
QuietStorytellers - Pinterest

This was written by Kelly Kellie and published on her behalf. The photos shown here are property of the auther and not to be copied or reproduced in an way without her prior consent.

1 comment:

  1. I will never look at an empty cereal box the same way! Thank you, Kelly, for getting me to think one step further when it comes to recycling.