Getting Down with Upcycling | Whole Green Love

24 Jan

Recycling. We’re all doing it. At least I hope we are! It’s a simple thing, really. Tossing all of that glass, plastic, and paper products into the bin and then sticking it at the end of our driveway every other week for pick up. Our city’s setup is extra easy; we don’t even have to separate out the glass and plastic. It’s good to be reminded though, that recycling, while it’s a serious step above tossing things in the garbage to sit in a landfill of all of eternity, still uses energy to convert to something usable again. Energy is also used to transport it from your curb to somewhere that makes it useful again. The obvious and best solution is to cut back on buying things that make us create garbage in the first place. Support companies that use as little packaging as possible, bring your own bags to the store, buy in bulk…the list goes on. To read about a family that was able to fit a whole year’s worth of garbage into a 1 liter mason jar, click here. Their story is so interesting and inspiring! I love how proud they are of their choice to make a difference in the world and I think it’s so great that their kids think it’s cool too.

When you can’t recycle and you don’t want to throw something away, what’s your other option? The new word for converting waste material into something of higher quality or something of new use is called “upcycling”. More than just keeping something out of the landfill, upcylcing finds a very good use for something you’d otherwise toss.

Nic and I have used this concept to furnish our home. While I was home with Lyla on maternity leave and was able to watch a little daytime TV, I noticed that many of the projects that Nate Berkus features on his show use the concept of upcycling. I love that! My hubby is such a handy man around the house that I wanted to show a couple of the projects he’s done recently.

We bought this coffee table at a rummage sale for $3. It was an ugly, brown color and a little nicked up, but other than that it was a nice table. Nic used the paint we had left over from painting our bedroom to paint the legs and then he cut pages out of a book and placed them strategically on the table top to cover it completely. He used mod podge to stick the pages on the table and then covered the table top with two coats of polyurethane(I know, not very earth friendly), so that it could stand some wear and tear and frequent cleaning. I love how it turned out! Here is the tutorial that Nic referenced to do this project from Mr. Kate. Thanks Mr. Kate and Nate Berkus!

Something else Nic and I had recently been going back and forth on was whether or not to splurge and buy a hutch for our dining room. We seriously needed some more storage for our dining/entertaining pieces. Plus, I have some super breakable candlesticks that need to be on display out of our other living area, prior to my little Lyla being mobile… Good excuse to buy new furniture, right? But really, I am not a fan of spending crazy amounts of money on furniture.

So after some inspiration from Nate Berkus and Pinterest, I thought that we Nic would be great at refurbishing a hutch for our dining room. He needed a little project to keep him busy on his paternity leave, after all. Just caring for an infant just isn’t enough to keep someone busy…

I’m in love with how this hutch turned out! We bought this piece from a second hand furniture store near us for $70. Nic sanded it down, painted it with a white primer, then painted it with yellow paint we had left over from our kitchen, and then the top layer of paint is an antique white. He sanded areas of the hutch where there would be normal wear and tear. He also put a layer of polyurethane on the top so that it would be easy to keep clean. I love anything with a distressed look and I think Nic did a fabulous job of recreating that. I bought hardware at Anthropologie on clearance – all for just over $10. Every time I look at this piece I am reminded of how much money we saved from not buying from a regular furniture store and that we saved an abandon hutch from a life alone.

Any pieces in your home that you’ve saved from a life in the landfill?

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