Upcycling is great. I do it A LOT. You might have noticed one or two (or a dozen …or a hundred!) upcycling posts on my blog over the years. And today I want to tell you why I’m such a fan of upcycling and also why it’s SO good for you – both financially and mentally…
I’m sure that you’re already aware of how beneficial upcycling is to help you save money, and you’ll definitely have heard about the sustainable reasons to upcycle your old furniture and materials to keep it out of landfill. Reduce, reuse, recycle is certainly a favourite motto of mine. In fact, I’m SO into upcycling that I find it difficult to throw anything away.
Even if I’m heading to the local waste recycling centre with some offcuts or broken pieces in the back of the car, I’ll still be thinking whether there’s anything I can use the items for in the future rather than bin them. Something would have to be in a pretty bad state for me to agree to throw it in the skip at the recycling centre.
And I’ll tell you why I love upcycling so much: because it makes me feel happy. Here’s are some reasons why:
- I’m saving an item from landfill
- I’m turning it into something I will love and enjoy using
- I’m improving my surroundings will personalised pieces
- I’m getting to use my craft skills to create something
- I’m enjoying the mental health benefits of being creative
But how does upcycling improve your mental health? Well, actually, any activity that involves being creative can help you to find inner peace, as well as clarity, growth and purpose. That could be painting, sewing or collaging – all handy techniques to use when upcycling – or it could be making music, writing, singing or dancing. When used as a part of a therapy program, this is known as expressive therapy. The process of being creative can be an enlightening experience or, at the very least, allows you to focus on the project in-hand and enjoy the relaxation of not having to think about anything else.
Here are some upcycling projects that can help you to save money, recycle and benefit from being creative:
I never bin fabrics or old clothing until it’s full of holes, or can’t be repaired, and I’m absolutely certain that I can’t use it for anything else. I’m forever saving buttons (you never know when you might need them) and love cutting out small squares of fabric to use for decoupage or quilting. I really love the idea of putting together all the pieces of fabric I’ve ever saved and creating a giant squishy quilt. I can usually remember where each fabric came from (my old Christmas pyjamas, my favourite pillowcase, a merchandise tee I bought after that PJ & Duncan gig…) so it would be a quilt full of happy memories – which would be yet another mental health benefit. If you too want to create something like this it’s a good idea to use the best quilting sewing machine for the job, which will make it easier and a much speedier process. In fact, the only thing that’s stopping me from starting this quilting project is that I know I need sturdy denim/canvas sewing needles to ensure I can sew through all the squares of fabric!
One of the easiest ways to completely transform a piece of furniture is by painting it. Just a simple coat of paint can make a scratched and scuffed old wood chest of drawers look good as new. It’s so satisfying to bring something into your home that you’ve carefully painted or lovingly restored and to know that it’s totally unique to you. Even a quick change of colour – such as a sunny yellow or your favourite hue – can refresh a tired piece and make you feel like you’ve treated yourself to something new. You’ll not only feel great about revamping something that would otherwise go into landfill, you’ll also improve your interior décor, which will help you to enjoy living in your home and make you feel happy whenever you look at the piece you created.
I really enjoy using the craft technique of decoupage to revamp items. It’s a slower process – sometimes activities like spray-painting and sewing can feel really fast! – so it’s really relaxing to do. I’ve used old maps and comics to create under-bed storage drawers and have used fabric off-cuts to create a patchwork desk in my caravan – and I’ve even used tiny pieces to decoupage a little pig to match! This is a great craft technique to use because it involves concentration and makes you slow down the pace of your work, which helps you to ‘get in the zone’ while upcycling. When you’re focused on the task in hand, your mind will be clear of worries and you can get into a calm, meditative state. Enjoy!
What do you think? Will you start crafting and upcycling for the benefit of your wallet and your mental health? What craft skills do you have that you could use to upcycle an item or create something new? Let me know in the comments below and I hope that this blog post has given you some inspiration.
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