Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…Upcycle?

We have all heard this saying repeated again and again, but what does it really mean. Sure, you can buy reusable grocery bags, or use brown bags to wrap up schoolbooks, but there’s so much more to it than that. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. What about those old tires you have lying by the side of the house? Or the bathtub that you saw on the side of the road? Or what about that wine crate that your wine club delivery came in? Some may see all these things as garbage, but I see opportunity. After all, one man’s trash is another’s treasure! The three things I mentioned above all have something in common; they can all be turned into planter boxes for your vegetable or flower gardens.

Old tires can be organized into various patterns in your yard, and then filled with soil and plants. This allows for a funky, yet fun garden to show off, all while being earth-savvy. Tires get thrown out or piled in junkyards at astonishing rates, but they can really add character to your backyard. The tires can be painted or decorated to add more excitement.

Bathtubs are another household item that make for excellent upcycling projects. My mother has an old claw foot tub that she found by the side of the road years ago, that she converted into a backyard pond. It was once trash, but is now surrounded with decorative bricks, various plants, and is even home to many goldfish and a turtle. My favorite idea for an old tub is to convert it into a garden planter. They can easily be painted or decorated, and then filled with various plants to add a funky charm to your yard.

If you’ve ever received a shipment of wine, you may have received it in a nifty little wine crate. Maybe you found a use for it, or maybe you just threw it out or stuck it in the garage. Why not plant something in it? The crates can be a bit fragile, but with a little extra love they can be converted into a perfect small raised garden bed. This is perfect for someone with little space, or wanting something portable to be able to move with them to their next home. Crates can be made sturdier with enforcements on the corners, and weatherproofing them is always a good idea to extend the life of the box. Drainage holes can be added with a power drill, and you’re ready to go!

Recycling and Reusing are always important to do, but always upcycle whenever possible. Our landfills cannot tolerate the amount of trash we are throwing into them every day. There is no reason to produce so much waste when there is so much opportunity literally being thrown out each day. Next time you go to toss something out, or recycle something, first ask yourself if there is any possible way to upcycle it or extend its life. You might add a little clutter, or a lot, to your garage, but future generations will thank you.

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