What Is Upcycling and Three Reasons You Should Consider It


What is Upcycling ?

Upcycling is a relatively new kid on the block.  So new, in fact, that my spellchecker keeps wanting to change it to epicycle !  Turns out although the word is new, the concept is not new at all.

Upcycling is the process of changing old, discarded or unused articles into something new that is useful and usually beautiful.  It gives used materials a better, often higher purpose than before.

So you see, the idea of upcycling is not new.  Some of the best ideas for upcycling originates from tough times when people had to make do with that they had.  Nothing was wasted.


Lets demonstrate with an example

Upcycling is a form of recycling but differs from recycling because the materials are not broken down. Materials are used in its original format.

Take for instance a discarded plastic bag.  To upcycle a used plastic bag you can clean it, cut it into yarn and weave a beach bag.

To recycle that same bag you will have to melt it down, turn it into pellets and use the pellets to manufacture a completely new product.

Three Reasons You Should Upcycle

Saves the Environment

When you modify discarded materials for a new use instead of throwing it into a rubbish bin from where it will end up in a landfill, you are saving the planet.

Rising consumerism is one of the biggest enemies to the environment and repurposing old redundant items instead of running off the the mall to buy something new curbs your expenditure and saves the environment.

Enhances Lives

Since materials don’t have to be broken down and changed into a new material, entry cost is low and skills to upcycle can be taught relatively easy.  This makes it ideal for solo entrepreneurs, community upliftment projects or a side business to earn some extra cash.

If you are not up to upcycling yourself, you can find groups where you can donate items used in upcycling projects and so help uplift your community.

One such company is Upcycle.co.za where individuals and corporates can get involved in upcycling.

Stimulates Your Creativity

Once you start looking at ideas to repurpose, the sky is the limit, really, and every item in your house and around the office suddenly winks at you with a new purpose.

Pinterest is a rich source of upcycle ideas, and I put together a special board for you with some excellent ideas.

Until next time, keep cycling up!



Minimalism on the rise

Minimalism – a lifestyle choice

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice that implies the promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts from it.

It’s about owning less and living more.  Everything you own needs some form of maintenance, cleaning and care, eating away at your most valuable resource, time. 

Minimalism fans claim that this lifestyle reduces stress, mess, clutter and financial strain, to name but a few.   

Minimalism is an attempt to balance the excessiveness of modern life as a result of consumerism. It counters the extent to which we have been brainwashed by corporations into believing that simply owning stuff will make us better people. 

This is (possibly) why

Given the complexity of the human race it can be difficult to fully understand the rise and fall of trends, but here are a couple of reasons that are probably contributing to Minimalism’s growth in popularity.

Financial Strain

Worldwide economic forecasts are looking gloomy putting more and more pressure on finances all the way down to individual- and household budgets.  Consumers from all walks of life are re-evaluating purchases in the light of budget constraints.  

Recent trends also show that corporations are reducing the number of full-time employed workers in favour of contract workers.  Consumerism largely relies on consumer debt, which favours a fixed income as opposed to a contract agreement.

Environmental Concern

Thanks to the tireless efforts of environmentalists around the world, society on all levels is becoming more aware of the negative effect that our excessive living is having on the environment. 

Despite some conflicting arguments among experts on a number of ‘green’ topics, John Doe is starting to re-evaluate purchases in the light of the impact it will have on the environment and the future of generations to come.

Realisation that there is more to life

One of the main driving forces of consumerism is advertising agents constantly bombarding us with marketing messages. These messages are tailored to address our deepest fears, insecurities and needs, promising to make us more productive, more attractive, fitter, happier or more successful.

The majority of products out there, however, will not deliver what it promises, and leave us with huge amounts of debt to pay off and less time to achieve the goals that initially motivated us to buy the promised results.

Realising that stuff cannot fill the holes in our lives is a revelation that will leave you with less clutter, less debt, more cash in your pocket and definitely more living.  Sounds like a bargain, don’t it?

And here’s how you can too

Don’t misunderstand this though.  Minimalism does not suggest that you need nothing, it simply addresses the abundance of what we own. 

In attempting this lifestyle you have to evaluate and narrow down what is really important to you and get rid of everything that does not support that.  Easier said than done, but more about that later.

Interested in how you can explore more?  Here are some great resources to start you off:

Becoming a Minimalist

The Minimalists

Check back soon for more green news. 

Baking Soda Nails It Again

Baking soda as part of nail care
Baking soda as part of nail care
Baking Soda in Nail Care

One of the biggest surprises on my quest to live a greener life has been baking soda.

Besides acting as a leavening agent when baking, baking soda also acts as a green alternative to a myriad of cleaning- and beauty products. In short, you get the shine without the unpleasant residue.

So without any further ado, let me introduce baking soda into your nail care regime.

Baking soda works wonders on your nails and cuticles to exfoliate and polish them. It whitens your nails and help to remove residue that can make your nails look yellow and dull.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Mix up a super easy paste of three parts baking soda and one part water.
  • Remove all nail polish.
  • Rub the paste into your nails and cuticles or use it on a nail brush.
  • Rinse off with water.

Have a fab week and check back soon for more green news.

Upcycled Magazine Pages

Upcycled Magbag made from recycled magazine pages
Upcycled Magbag made from recycled magazine pages
Upcycled Shopping Bag

Shopping for a summer scarf the other day, I not only got the perfect scarf, I got it in this cute upcycled bag!

Made from old magazine pages, they are called Magbags and are made from recycled magazine pages, stitched together with a simple zig-zag stitch.  I also believe that it forms part of an upliftment program for women.

Thumbs up for Out Of the Blue in Lynnwood Ridge, Pretoria.

Have you come across any retailers using Magbags?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

The Best Way to Start Greening Your Life



Recycling (shutterstock image)

Recycling your waste is one of the absolute best ways to start greening your life, if you have been putting off doing so.

It saves the earth’s resources by reusing materials.  It prevents dangerous chemicals from polluting rivers, soil and the air. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

But there is something far more valuable and long lasting you will gain from recycling.

Recycling will change the way you think.  Recycling will change how you choose.  Recycling will change how you buy;  it will change what you buy.

In the end, recycling will save you money.

Ready to give it a try? Here are some tips to get you started.

Find a Space

It might sound silly or obvious, but identify a space where all recycling has to go.  Having a set space to take recycling to will immediately increase your chances at success.

Also remember: recycling is not just about sorting your waste.  It is also about getting recycled waste to a depot from where it can be processed. So ensure your space is somewhere you will remember to pick it up on your way out.

Contain It

Get dedicated containers to store your recycling in.  It can be anything from dedicated dustbins, to crates or used plastic shopping bags.

Try to set up containers in such a way that recycling gets deposited directly into the container that it is going to get disposed off in.  So if you use a crate, line it with a plastic bag for easy pick up and go.

Word of advice: start with containers you already have in the house.  Next, figure out how much recycling your household generates and how often you dispose of recycled items. Once you have established quantities and schedule, you can invest in the right size and type of containers, if you need to.

Cultivate New Habits

Most things are easy to do … once.  Doing it over and over again until it becomes a habit takes a little bit more effort.

So don’t rush into it. Start with one (maximum two) items to recycle, for instance glass or paper. Only add more items once you have the habit properly formed and the details sorted.

Rome wasn’t built in one day.  Neither does your recycling effort have to be.

Begin with the End in Mind

How do you decide which item to start recycling? Easy peasy.

Find the nearest, easiest recycling depot to your house, and whatever is recycled there, that’s the product you start with.

Easy drop-off is half the battle won.

Get Everyone on Board the Recycling Train

This can be a tricky one, depending on who you share your dwelling with.  Recycling isn’t difficult, but it requires commitment, and commitment, and more commitment.

Don’t war. Don’t blame. Don’t shame.

Focus on the positives. Encourage. Celebrate small victories.

South Africans do not yet have a recycling culture or  -laws, as some European and other countries, so it remains a largely voluntary act to recycle.  And for voluntary acts you need volunteers.

Get it? Now get going.  And if you mess up, don’t fret. Reboot, simplify even more, and start again.


The Daily News

Sustainable news - Newspaper vs Electronic News
Sustainable news – Newspaper vs Electronic News

There is a guy I meet up with almost every morning on my way to work.  We chat about the weather and sometimes the news headlines.

My day is somehow lacking if he’s not at our regular meeting place.

He is the guy that sells me my newspaper.

I take my newspaper to the office with me and leave it in the Common room.  I see people paging through it, discussing it, having lunch around it.

Newspapers not only connect us with the outside world, it also, somehow, has the ability to connect us to those around us.

Yes, I have a tablet and a phone and a computer where I can get my daily news fix in a more sustainable way, but it’s just not the same as paging through a newspaper.

Researching how ‘green’ my newspaper buying habit is, brought some surprising facts to light.  Facts like ‘It takes 24 trees to make one ton of newspaper’ almost makes me feel like an offender for buying a newspaper, yet it seems that the jury is still out on which of electronic- or paper news has the biggest carbon footprint.  This is, of course, given that you recycle both the newspaper and the electronic vice you choose.

Paper recycling makes a strong argument.  It costs 50-80% less to build a paper mill that uses wastepaper than to build one that uses new pulp.  Producing recycled paper also releases 73% less air pollution than using new pulp.  Recycling firms are plenty and drop-off is easy.

Re-cycling your used electronic equipment, however, is more tricky. Not only are there fewer re-cycling drop-off options available, there are also more risks involved with data stored on your devices as well as SIM- and data cards.

So this is over to you now.  How do you get your daily news fix?  How often do you buy a newspaper? Do you think that newspapers will be around much longer?



Clean Your Kitchen Green

Vinegar-Kitchen-CleanerVinegar is an excellent eco-friendly alternative to chemical cleaners.  The acid in vinegar not only helps to cut through grease and grime but it is also anti-bacterial, which makes it an ideal eco-friendly companion in your kitchen.

Mix a quarter cup of vinegar in a liter of water and add to a spray bottle.  Use it in your kitchen to keep kitchen surfaces, stove top and handles clean and bacteria free.  For a little more cleaning power, add a drop or two natural soap to the mixture.

Do you have any eco-friendly, vinegar cleaning recipes? Please share them below.