Action 207: Upcycle something free

upcycled furnitureDate: 26 July
Action: 207
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ FREE or LOW


Jointly written by David and our guest writer Ann in the UK

Upcycling is a trendy word for re-using and we love doing that!

Upcycle something!

Upcycling has becoming quite a buzzword in the past few years, but what does it mean?

How is it different from recycling? Why would you do it and WHAT can you do?

Let’s have a look at this and some ideas for simple upcycle projects anyone can do with things in their home, with limited time without the need for professional expertise!

In the past, the word “recycle” was pretty much used to describe everything you did with your waste that wasn’t simply throwing it away. Made it into something new? Recycled! Reused an old jar? Recycled!

But this isn’t accurate though. Actually, recycling is when the object is destroyed, usually in a specialised plant, and the resulting materials used to make something new. Recycling is important but imperfect, it uses energy and financial resources and is generally inefficient.

While the number of people recycling in the UK and around the world is rising, the truth is that it’s still not enough. Even if everybody recycled, we do not have the capacity to recycle all our waste. For example, in 2019, over 60% of the UK’s plastic packaging designated for recycling was exported simply because the UK doesn’t have the facilities to deal with it (source: British Plastic Federation).

It’s better to keep using things again and again.

And one option here is to upcycle!


While it is still important to recycle, it should be our last resort, and we should first try to focus on reusing (reusing things as they are, with their original purpose) or upcycling.

Upcycling is to reuse discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create something of higher utility, quality, or value than the original.


click for larger image

There are so many ideas for upcycling; the possibilities are endless. It’s partly about being creative and innovative, partly about being practical and thrifty. Here are a few ideas, just as examples to get you thinking:

  • use old jars to make low-cost lighting or an indoor herb garden
  • upcycle old doors and windows to make coffee tables
  • raise wooden crates on wheels, give a paint finish and you have great toy boxes
  • use dyes and bleach sprays to revitalise an old t-shirt
  • repurpose odds and ends of wood to make birdfeeders
  • handprint wood log slices to make cool rustic pieces of wall art or a child’s stepping game
  • strip and repaint old brown furniture for a more modern look
  • get creative with the sewing machine using old clothes to make a heritage duvet cover
  • use old child clothes to make a memory bear
  • look into decoupage as a way of giving old things a makeover
  • treat, varnish and paint old dining room furniture to become trendy garden or barbeque furniture
  • old tools can become “rustic” display items when cleaned and then lacquered or painted
  • turn a variety of old plates into a traditional afternoon tea cake stand
  • milk churns, tyres, cement mixer drums, and even washing machine drums can be made into planters
  • tyres can become swings and other games (pictured, click for larger image)
  • an old wooden stepladder becomes a great set of bookshelves for a child’s room
  • this list could go on and on, just use your imagination!

For some more inspiration, try this ecosia search.

Take action

Resolve now to upcycle one thing you might otherwise have thrown away.

Oh, and of course, let us know how you get on using our social media feeds!

This article was jointly written by our own David, and Ann Buhagiar (Insta: