An elegant aquarium made from an old computer monitor. Handbags made from old tires and soda cans. Forget recycling, “upcycling” — turning trash into more valuable treasures — is the hot new trend.
Mike Haines, who works for the British environmental group ClientEarth, has reinvented garbage for years.
“Recycling is good, but it uses a lot of energy,” he explains. “Using something in the form it already exists in is much better for the environment.”
Haines dyes and restyles old T-shirts, and has a box full of items waiting for a new life.
Now Haines is trendy.
“A lot of people upcycle without knowing it,” says Debjit Chaudhuri, founder of the green networking website Elpis.com. “Using old boxes as CD racks is very common. But now people are really discovering upcycling and getting creative about it.”
When Elpis, a Germany-based website, announced an upcycling competition earlier this year and contributions arrived from around the world. Among the highlights pictured above: a lightbulb turned into a charming oil lamp, a lounge chair made from old skis, and an old rowboat turned into a gigantic flowerpot.
“On our discussion boards, people discuss how to commercialize their upcycled products, too,” Chaudhuri says. “A few years ago, upcycling as a business idea would simply have been dismissed. But now resources are becoming scarce, and people are paying attention.”
That’s why there are already companies like Worn Again, which sells designer goods made from old clothes