The mantra of the environmental movement has always been the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. While many of us watch the amount of packaging that goes into the products we purchase and are happy to collect our cans, bottles and newspapers for recycling, it’s the second R of reusing that frequently goes by the wayside. In an effort to re-brand the idea of reusing, trendsetters and influencers have begun to talk about the idea of rediscovering the uses of non-virgin materials as “up-cycling”.
Oddly, we all actively practice upcycling when we sew a button back on rather than throw away a garment, do a repair or renovation job on our homes rather than move, or create a piece of art. The library is full of books about ways to reuse, rediscover and re-create the items around us using a little skill and some imagination.
A great encyclopedia of ways to improve and learn to appreciate the objects around you is Carol Endler Sterbenz’s volume Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts. Sterbenz looks back into the history of handcrafts and shows how we can use the items around us and as well as common vintage and antique items to create beautiful decor items. The book travels from beginner to advance projects and acts as much as a source for inspiration as a practical guide. If vintage and antique items are more appealing, books like Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic or Melanie Molesworth’s Junk Style might be the inspiration you need for you next trip yard-sailing or hitting one of the city’s many second hand stores, or if you are feeling industries or nostalgic then Juju Vail Rag Rugs covers everything from floor coverings to creative wall hangings in a variety of styles.
When you are looking for something a little more practical or if your home needs more work than adornment then grabbing a book like Popular Mechanics’ How to Fix Anything: Essential Home Repairs Anyone can Do might be what you need to concentrate on this summer. While some jobs such as large electrical or plumbing jobs are best left to a professional, many household fixes and upgrades can be done by any homeowner. So if it’s time to re-screen your windows, change out a faucet or add some crown molding, then How to Fix Anything is a great choice. Canadian Living magazine has also written a great handbook on easy and beautiful ways to manage the items that surround us, with its new book Create, Update, Remake. The authors at Canadian Living have found ways to help its readers deal with clutter, improve the items we currently own and live more happily and more simply. Using the philosophy of “less is more”, the book is stuffed with great ideas and fun and functional projects.
For many of us, one of our pet peeves is what to do with all those plastics that we can’t recycle locally and the book Fantastic Recycled Plastic by Robin A. Edgar and David Edgar is full of creative ways to reuse all the pop bottles, yogurt containers and butter tubs that can’t be recycled. It’s also a fabulous treasure trove of ideas for crafts that kids will love doing. Using little more that scissors, paint and imagination, you can turn a laundry detergent bottle into a lobster, a monster mask that any child would be happy to wear for Hallowe’en, or a model airplane that is study enough for hours of outdoor play.
Learning to appreciate and love the stuff we already own rather than always searching for the next thing to make us happy is an important part of finding inner peace in a hectic world. So check out a book, try a You tube video or ask a friend, then unleash your creativity as you up-cycle the world around you.
Lori Kauzlarick- www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!