Friday, November 5, 2010

Jump On the Upcycling Bandwagon

Upcycling is on a roll, and it's picking up speed with the momentum of Etsy teams and sellers whose focus and mission is to create green products. Communities like Etsypreneur also bring together like-minded individuals who can share their passion for all things eco-chic in groups like Greenpreneurs, Dream Designers of Embellished Treasures and Upcyclers. But truly the primary driving force behind the movement would have to be the economy, since one of the rewards of upcycling is the savings.

Taking something that was either destined for the trash or no longer of use in its original form and turning it into something of higher value or use is the definition of upcycle. A relatively new term, [spellcheck still thinks it's a misspelled word] it still returns less than a million results for a cumulative search of its various forms, including -ing and -ed. But the byproducts are increasing exponentially as the trend catches on. Particularly in the artisan industry where imaginative expression is the seed of creativity. Some of these ideas are ingenious and inspirational!

One team of eco-minded Etsy sellers, Eco Etsy, has a member whose blog features tutorials on upcycling a variety of products from everyday sources found in most homes. ecokaren has recycled t-shirts into memory quilts, turned old jars into soap dispensers and made garment bags from old fitted sheets. She is the go-to gal for DIY's! And she's getting savvy with it, producing video tutorials now too.

ecokaren's tutorial for upcycled journals

I belong to the group I mentioned earlier, Upcyclers, and recently we started a forum asking, "What to do with wine corks?". There were several ideas, including coasters, frames, bulletin boards, bases for clay or embellished wine stoppers. One very intriguing one was a chess board! But the most surprising one was jewelry, unique and one of a kind creations made of recycled cork!

Dawn calls her shop 'Wine Cork Jewelry & More' and her designs are organic, well balanced and colorful. A versatile addition to your wardrobe, they are elegant yet simple and would pair well with jeans or a lovely floral frock. She might be from the North, but she has infused a tropical flair that reminds me of the islands.
She also creates wine glass charms that would make the perfect hostess gift for the holidays or an addition to your own party.

Upcyclers often think big! Furniture is one of the largest things filling our landfills and when an outdated or worn piece of "junk" looks hopeless to some,
Lauran from ChromaDecor says, "I'll take it!". Her pieces are also full of vibrant color and imagination. She sees beyond the peeling paint or wear and envisions a "brand new" functional and beautiful addition to a home's decor. A new shop on Etsy, her inventory is low because she has already sold items in the very month she opened! Congrats to her, and it just goes to show the demand for these types of products.


Etsy and other indie artist marketplaces like Artfire are the perfect venues for these kind of handcrafted items, for they truly reflect the personality and ability of those who create them, elevating them to not only functional, but a work of art. You can enter upcycled as a search on Etsy and find over 88,000 items to browse! Artfire has over 15,000. Plenty to choose from, and surely something for everyone.

Since you are here, you must be interested in Upcycled products so here's a chance to win some! Check out Team Eco Etsy's Green Holiday Giveaway: You Wear Them Well! And thank you ecokaren for sharing the news about the giveaway with us...

Good Luck, everyone!

Other Upcycled Treasures to Love:
Fabric Flower by Stagnant Gypsy

Handmade Hedgehog Plush by 5orangepotatoes

Necklace-Marjorie by 3ddoodles on Artfire

Vintage Floral Dangle Earrings by BreatheCouture 

Vintage Clipon and Fabric Swatch Hair Barette by beadsbuttonsandbows

Have an upcycled listing in your shop or a favorite? 
Post it in the comment field below!!


  1. Thank you for the invite! smiles....
    here is something I've upcycled, and have in my shop,
    Not Yo Mommas Handbag

  2. I love denim bags and yours is especially cool because you left the fringed ends on the legs!! Definitely gives it character...thanks for sharing it with us, I checked out your shop and I love your photography, I am trying to get Photo Art by cnicely up and running, maybe we can chat in the future!

  3. My whole shop is upcycled, here is one listing:

    I need to get more vhs bags listed :)

  4. I adore chenille, Lisa! It is one of my favorite materials, I make stockings for Christmas and the one I made for my newborn granddaughter last year was made with a quilted chenille fabric. Thanks for sharing your beautiful bag. And yes, this is the time to list, list, list! I know I need to get busy.

  5. Great upcycling info! It's so addicting to come up with ways to re-use materials and make them into something better! I just opened my etsy shop and I upcycle fabric and post-consumer food packaging to make sensory baby toys. Here's a set of my cloth blocks:

  6. Thank you so much for featuring my DIY's. I love the challenge of upcycling anything. (and you are right. I had to add the word to spellcheck on my computer!). It's an awesome way of reducing waste and giving a second chance to items that might have seen better days or on their way out to the curb. Great post! Also thanks for mentioning Team Eco Etsy's giveaway! Hope you entered. :)

  7. Thank you so much for featuring Chroma Decor! Well-written article, I love your blog. :)

  8. @Gena, I sent my daughter, a new mother, the link and she loved your blocks! It's so hard to find toys you can feel comfortable giving your baby these days. We both love the sensory feature especially. No loud bells and whistles, no batteries, YAY! Just a tactile experience for a growing little mind. :)Thanks for sharing!

  9. What a great post! People like you make Etsypreneur a fun place! :)



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