50 Fabulous Blogs for Upcycling Inspiration

What is upcycling? It’s the opposite of downcycling, where you take items that are used and break them down to raw materials. Most recycling we participate in is considered downcycling. However, when you figure out a way to take an item that is otherwise ordinary and make into something new, different and actually nicer than the original, it is considered upcycling. We’ve scoured the Web to find 50 fabulous blogs that will inspire you to upcycle in great new ways.

Ways To Upcycle Things Yourself

These blogs will give you instructions for completing home upcycling projects.

    1. Plastic Bottle Chandelier : Learn how you can make a cool chandelier with LED Christmas lights, old 2-liter bottles, and a little ingenuity.

    2. Lumber Lounge : It’s beautiful outside. Now all you need is a lounge chair. Forget the expensive one at Pier 1; you can make one from old pallets.

    3. Jewel Box Lamp : Have old jewel boxes you don’t need since all your music is on an iPod? Here’s what to do with them.

    4. DIY Dish Towels : These techniques will show you what to do with bath towels that you no longer use.

    5. Daily Danny : You may recognize Danny Seo from one of his TV specials about living a “green lifestyle,” or you may have read one of his columns in Better Homes and Gardens. He provides ideas about upcycling in this section of his blog.

    6. Gaiam Blog : Valerie Gleaton explores three ways that you can get involved in upcycling: by doing it yourself, having custom products made for you, or by supporting companies that upcycle.

    7. Upcycled Journal : Clear instructions show you how to make a beautiful journal from otherwise discarded materials.

    8. CrochetSpot.com : CrochetSpot.com discusses ways that you can upcycle completely useless items, like old VHS tapes, into durable, cool-looking yarn. Also, T-shirts and plastic grocery bags can be turned into yarn as well.

    9. Home Crafts Blog : Home Crafts Blog presents interesting ideas for upcycling materials such as old plastic bags.

    10. HowStuffWorks: Upcycling : HowStuffWorks is an interesting blog that explores many different scientific topics. The link above will point you to all the blog posts related to upcycling.

    11. 40 Ideas For Earth Day : Craftster presents 40 recycled and upcycled craft ideas for Earth Day.

    12. Rescued Cashmere : A beautiful and simple way to make new children’s clothing from an old sweater.

    13. Crafting A Green World : Crafting a Green World has a ton of great ideas for upcycling. Whatever the raw material, chances are you’ll find something to do with it here.

    14. Peachy Green : Learn how to turn an old wool blazer into cat pillows here. (It’s cuter than it sounds!)

    15. Burda Style : Burda Style is considered one of the top destinations on the Web for sewing enthusiasts. Included in the many patterns on the site are ideas for upcycling fabrics.

    16. Instructables : Instructables is the king of do-it-yourself craft projects. Everything featured on this site comes with clear directions and photos.

    17. My Recycled Bags : Turn old VCR tape, old plastic bags, old six-pack rings, and even old T-shirts into fantastic crocheted creations with free patterns from RecycleCindy, the author of this blog.

    18. Recycle This : This community-driven site helps people answer the question, “how can I recycle this?” Answers range from reuses to projects that are truly upcycling.

    19. Repurposed : This thoughtful blog combines posts about living a “repurposed life” with neat ideas for upcycling. Domino fridge magnets, anyone?

    20. ForGreenies.com : For Greenies is a British environmentally conscious blog that features some excellent ways to upcycle.

    21. Recycled Crafts @CraftGossip : On this blog, the authors collect cool repurposing and upcycling ideas from around the Web.

    22. Can’t Stop Making Things : Affordable craft ideas are featured here. Many of them feature reclaimed trash, such as plastic takeout containers, given a new life.

    23. Steampunk Workshop : Even if you may not be a fan of steampunk culture, or even know what it is, you’ll appreciate the interesting upcycling ideas presented on this blog. Dye old clothes using natural materials like beets and onion skins!

    24. Repurposeful : Repurposing is just another way to think about upcycling. Perhaps there is not as much added value in the equation, but when you keep something out of the trash, that’s always good. Here, get a ton of ideas, such as how to turn old jeans into potholders.

    25. Things I Found At The Thrift Store : Actionable, useful information for anyone who wants to save money and reuse old materials. In-depth instructions on projects like restoring old sneakers.

Ways Others Have Been Upcycling

Sometimes the best way to get inspiration is by looking at the work others have done. These blogs feature independent artists and photo galleries from around the Web.

    26. Eco-Art and Upcycling Modern Design : Michael Yonke showcases his beautiful and functional designs made with reclaimed wood and other materials. His goal is to be an advocate for the environment while staying close to his artistic principles.

    27. Sandy Shelly Upcycling : Artist Sandy Shelly creates fascinating new pieces out of items such as old Altoids tins, bottle caps, and old books, and she shares them on her blog.

    28. Lulu’s Upcycling Lounge : Lulu creates hair accessories, grocery bags, necklaces, crayons, scarves and other items using old materials such as bread bags.

    29. Etsy Trashion : The artists at Etsy Trashion share one thing in common: they make cool stuff from things other people might throw away. Great site for inspiration.

    30. Craft Chi : Craft Chi is the blog of Amy, an Austin artist and crafter who loves using recycled materials in her work.

    31. Indie Fixx : Indie Fixx is home to Jen Wallace’s thoughts on independent art, her picks of some of the best art and craft on the Web, and inspiration for the eco-conscious artist.

    32. PaceButler : PaceButler, a company known for its work in the cell phone recycling field, offers a look into the world of upcycling with this thoughtful post. Learn what some people are now doing with dumpsters.

    33. The Storque : The Storque, Etsy’s official blog, features Reclaimed Home, a business that takes discarded or worn-out materials from old homes and reinvents them into useful new products.

    34. She Inspires : She Inspires is an Australian blog dedicated to helping women bring inspiration into everyday life. In the post about turning trash to treasure, Trish Koh provides a beautiful picture of lamps that have been made from old teacups.

    35. Love and Thrift : Clara Vuletich is a designer and researcher at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. Her thoughtful blog has ideas about repurposing old materials as well as ways that people can creatively use less to begin with.

    36. Upcycling: Re-Imagining Our Waste : The blog of the Berkana Institute is devoted to finding new ways to turn discarded or disposable materials into useful items. This site has many pictures and articles for inspiration.

    37. Adaptive Reuser : Christine Terrell is an Austin-based artist. She specializes in making art jewelry from upcycled decorative tins. Find inspiration, as well as work of other artists that she likes, on her blog.

    38. Memoirs of a Modern Surrealist : Marisa Pawelko, the “indie craft guru,” writes this craft blog. Featured is a plastic bag upcycling challenge in which participants had to create a dress.

    39. Great Lakes Design Collective : Some amazing and beautiful photos of upcycling art are featured on this page. Cardboard life sculptures and plastic cup canopies are just a few of the ideas.

    40. Mayfair Huddersfield : The Mayfair Huddersfield Blog features London designer Francesca Warren, who has created some beautiful clothing designs for women using old menswear as the starting point.

    41. Inhabitat : Inhabitat is a well-known blog about sustainable design. This series of posts about designer Chris Burton highlights his inspirational designs for shelves and other furniture, using reclaimed waste from construction sites.

    42. Transplant : If you’re looking for upcycling ideas, you’ll love these photos from a recent upcycling workshop in Norway.

    43. Make: Technology On Your Time : The Make blog features the place where technology and craft intersect. There are some extremely interesting and complicated ways to upcycle things on this blog.

    44. giddygiddy : When you find a “plain old” little girl’s dress at the thrift store, here’s a way you can turn it into something totally unique and “designer” with just your own sewing machine and fabric remnants.

    45. Recyclart : There are literally hundreds of photos on this site, ranging from the bizarre to the truly useful upcycled art. Check out the towel holders made from tennis balls.

    46. Creativity Is Messy : Tera’s blog about her adventures in crafting features upcycled goods such as scarves made from old t-shirts.

    47. The Crafty Bastards Blog : The author blogs about all things craftily upcycled on her blog. While the baby shoes made from old ramen wrappers give her the creeps, she gives the thumbs-up to the rings made from old cigarette lighters.

    48. The Upcycler : The Upcycler is a new blog devoted to all things upcycling-related, linking to several sites with interesting ideas.

Upcycling Materials

Depending on your location, you may be able to take advantage of these services.

    49. The Upcycle Exchange : A unique place in St. Louis where crafters can request “throwaway” items from the general public and swap items with other crafters. People who donate can get discounts on original artwork.

Things You Should Not Do When Upcycling

    50. Regretsy : This hilarious site is explained as the “meeting between DIY and WTF.” It shows lots of different craft projects from around the Web, especially Etsy, the market for handmade goods. Regretsy has a high proportion of upcycled items gone wrong. Take heed before your project ends up here!

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