Article - Creative upcycling to live more sustainably

Creative upcycling to live more sustainably

In today’s world, almost everything is designed for convenience to suit our fast paced lives. The rise of the high volume and low cost manufacturing of clothing, homeware and appliances encourages a disposable mentality, where it’s all too convenient to simply replace something when it breaks, rather than repair or repurpose it.

In Australia, we produce over 18 million tonnes of landfill waste each year, which on a per person basis puts us as one of the highest waste producing countries in the world. Our population is also projected to be 35.5 million by 2056, which will place increasing pressure on the natural environment and its resources. We can all look at making small adjustments to combat waste, and some of these can be fun, too.

Upcycling is a great way to take action. It is similar to recycling in that it helps to minimise our impact on the planet by reducing what we send to landfill, but it also gives a new use to something old. By reducing waste, we lower our carbon footprint and rather than actively buying new materials, upcycling promotes the use of old items resulting in less demand for new goods to be manufactured, preserving our resources.

Here’s some of our favourite ideas that are easy to put together using everyday items. Hopefully there’s a project here that inspires you to bring new life to something you already own!


A common pantry staple, canned foods are easy to accumulate quickly. Cans themselves are fairly simple to repurpose into handy household items. With a little creativity, they can be transformed into storage containers to help keep you organised. Here’s a quick tutorial on View from the Fridge to make a pencil holder:


As we head into warmer weather and more opportunities to dine alfresco, these patio luminaires are a nice idea. Plot out pretty designs or stick with classic polka dots using a hammer and nail. Check out the full tutorial over on Consumer Crafts.


If you’re entertaining kids this weekend, why not let them help you use cans to create an outdoor bowling set. Here’s a great guide for making your own.




It’s not always feasible to repurpose old furniture, and in that case it’s a good idea to donate it to your local second hand store or charity shop. We’ve chosen a couple of our favourite repurposed ideas that we think would make a fun weekend project to chip away at.

Here’s a DIY tutorial for upcycling a children’s desk into a baby’s cot – ideal for those of you with little ones who have outgrown their bassinet.


If you’ve got an old dresser that you’re not so keen on anymore, why not create some extra storage space by turning the drawers into shelving? Here’s an easy tutorial from Home Talk. These would be great fixed to the wall in a bedroom or home office.




According to the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, clothing is our fastest growing household waste.

Like most things, clothing has now become a disposable commodity and although some unwanted textiles are used as rags or sent offshore, there’s a lot more we could be doing to give old clothes new value. Here’s a cool tutorial from Inhabitat for upcycling an old t-shirt into a produce bag – ideal for trips to the shops or local farmers market.



Glass jars

There are plenty of ways to save glass jars from the recycling bin. They make great storage for pantry staples like grains and flour, and you can re-create the vintage pharmacy look by painting the lids and putting on spare knobs or drawer handles to make your jars that much fancier.


Check out this tutorial from Little House of Four to give your jars a spruce up.

Or why not put jars to use by filling them with treats? Here’s a sweet tutorial for DIY cookie mix from Something Turquoise. We’ll be keeping this up our sleeve for Christmas!

We know there will be plenty of others, so if you have any ideas please share them with us in the comments below!

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