Fun in the Art of Upcycling

Report by: Tracy Mukami Kimathi.

Many people perceive environmental conservation as anti-development as well as cost-consuming. This holiday, I personally set out to prove this notion wrong by carrying out a few simple experiments that embrace the well known 4Rs that we environmentalists look up to. I then discovered a new term known as ‘upcycling’, which according to Wikipedia refers to the ‘process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value’. In simpler terms it’s the reuse of discarded objects so as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

As the title also implies, I wanted to ensure the processes were simple enough to silence the idea that ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover’ is a complex and unmanageable affair. Once my little brother, whom you will see in the illustrations, saw my experiments, he quickly joined me. He proved it to be a fun experience that children all around the world can enjoy, without being forced, and without grumbles. As a result, I consider this report to open doors to a new generation of people who will find environmental conservation to be a joy, not a burden, as the previous and current generations portray it.

The main focus of this report is upcycling, it demonstrates profit gain, simple profit gain, cheap profit gain, and reusable profit gain. I basically reinvented old materials as items that can be reintroduced to the market with added value. Buyers can appreciate the handmade effort to personalize the items, thus adding value to its creative nature.

So now that we’ve explored the definitions and base of this article, let’s see the fun and easy ways to contribute to the restoration of our beautiful, spectacular, amazing, stunning, astounding, breathtaking (and so on) planet.

TOILET PAPER ROLL CRAFTS.

toilet roll craft 

Materials Needed.

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Bottle caps
  • Markers/ paints
  • Paint brush
  • Any additional colour materials

materials

Procedure.

  1. Paint toilet rolls (white preferably)
  2. Let them dry in the sun.
  3. Fold the top part (if necessary)
  4. Paint on desired features.
  5. Design your craft with glitter or bottle tops, or any other feature according to your design.
paint the rolls

1. Let the young ones paint the materials (they love it!)

painted rolls

2. Results after sun drying. (It’ll take less than 30 min)

owl ears folded

3. Designs vary. (I folded the ears for the owl effect)

ready to decorate

finished toilet roll

Finished results

 finished toilet roll

 

TWINE WRAPPED WINE/WHISKEY BOTTLES.

Jameson wrapped bottle

Finished Jameson whiskey bottle

Materials.

  • Old wine/vodka bottle
  • Old jewellery.
  • Yarn

Step 1, 2 and 3 repeated

It doesn’t matter how badly off the bottle is. The yarn will cover the bottle fully, giving it a completely new appearance. This was the best upcycle example I created, turning a completely discarded material into an item that can be resold  to consumers who’d appreciate the personalized item as a gift. (Take note Jameson and other famous brands 🙂

image11 Old whiskey bottle

 Procedure.

  1. Distribute the glue evenly on one section of the recycled bottled.
  2. Wrap the yarn around the bottle ensuring little to no space is left between the layers.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 till the desired point.

Decorate the finished bottle with buttons or jewellery or any other reusable material

image12

The finished wrapped bottle

The finished wrapped Jameson’s bottle

LAST BUT NOT LEAST …

PLASTIC INSPIRED ANIMAL FLOWER POTS.

Inspiration

from inspiration

to finished pot

to finished pot

Materials

  • Marker
  • Plastic bottle
  • NT cutter or craft knife
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Old calendar
  • Creativity 🙂

 wash plastic bottles

Procedure.

  • Wash out bottles and remove labels.
  • Cut out shape of respective animal from bottle.
  • Using an outdated calendar or greetings card, draw the features of animal to the respective dimensions of the bottle and cut it out.
  • Using glue, stick the calendar paper to the bottle and voilà, your very own plastic animal pot

 

Let your little helper wash out the bottle and remove the label. He chose for me the animal type too 🙂

wash the bottle

Cut out the animal shape with scissors, NT cutter or craft knife (carefully). Our chosen animal was a cat.

 cut out the shape

The cut out results.

cut-out cat shape from plastic bottle              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year-2016!! Not everything of 2015 will be discarded:          

old 2015 items

Cat design as per bottle’s circumference measurement.

cat design

Finished Results

plastic bottle cat

PROFESSIONALLY SPEAKING.

Studies show that people are exposed to chemicals from plastics multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products. The chemicals are absorbed by the human body causing hormone alterations. Plastic ingested by animals injures or poisons them, and plastics disposed of in landfills leach harmful chemicals that further danger human health.

Plastics are a major pollutant and the damage grows due to their easy affordability and availability. According to Wikipedia, plastics contribute to approximately 10% of discarded waste. Between 60% and 80% of all marine litter consist of plastics (Derraik, 2002). Most economies don’t prioritize the issue of waste management and the low level of funding that does go to the issue is taken by corruption, this mostly happens in developing countries. In developed countries waste is known to contain mostly inorganic compounds (plastics being a large portion), as compared to developing countries that record mostly organic products. The blame is on everyone.

One cannot however stop the production of plastics as they are important in the modern age. It has uses in packaging, hospital equipment, and new studies that encourage plastics for home construction are readily emerging. If properly recycled, we can live with plastics without encouraging environmental and health damage. But if not managed, the multiple decade lifespans of plastics will kill our planet.

Recycling and upcycling can create immense job opportunities, from the stakeholders of solid waste disposal to the craftsmanship of the individuals reconstructing the items. In the project displayed above, I used less than 500ksh to buy the tools and materials that can return thousands in profit, as well as help in environmental conservation. The low income majority and the unemployed can create job opportunities for themselves by selling these items. Did I mention that they all took less than an hour in preparation?

IN CONCLUSION.

-The materials I used are cheap and unemployed individuals can make and sell these items, investing as little as 500ksh as start up capital.

-The materials can be used for decorative, as well as utilitarian purposes in a household

– Schools can involve children in such projects, as they are easy to make and highly informative

-Companies can adopt such upcycling methodology. This will help in solid waste management, as well as limiting landfill developments.

Report by: Tracy Mukami Kimathi.

Contact Information: tracykamy@gmail.com, +254 712 950183

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