10 Cool Upcycled (Repurposed) Products
Ever heard of the term “upcycling"? Similar to recycling, the aim is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills as well as cut down on the environmental effects associated with harvesting the virgin material used to produce things. For example, making plastic items necessitates oil drilling and we get metals through mining and paper from chopping down trees—all activities that burn up a tremendous amount of energy and contribute to air and water pollution as well as other serious environmental problems.
Like recycling, upcycling involves reusing something so it doesn’t end up in a dump. However, where recycling breaks down a material so that it can be turned into something else (plastic bottles into toys or carpet, for example), upcycling uses intact pieces and parts of things to make new items that retain vestiges of the original product, and in many cases end up being more valuable than the first thingamajig.
You may have seen upcycled products in upscale gift shops—things like vases made out of high-end vodka bottles or bowls made from colorful magazines. We’ve found even better stuff—here’s 10 fantastic upcycled products you may want for your own.
Necklace Made of Watch Parts
Who needs a watch when the cell phone or mobile device you take everywhere can tell time? Fewer people are wearing wristwatches, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be put to good use. Check out this conversation starter—a unique necklace crafted with the guts of watches. This delicate pendant is an inch-and-a-half long.
Price: $45 at Etsy
Traffic Light Bird Feeder or Bath
This garden art can be a bird feeder or bird bath, depending on if you stock it with food or water. It’s six inches tall and made from your choice of a 12-inch blue, red or yellow traffic light lens and a 100-year old insulator that comes in blue or clear. A chain to hang it is not included.
Price: $58 at Hipcycle
Upcycled Vintage Train Case Pet Feeder
Not only does this vintage train case make for an elegant and stylish feeder, but you can take it on the go if you like to take your pet with you on your trips. The stainless steel bowls can be removed for easy cleaning and the lid is made so it won't fall on your pet while it eats.
Price: $89 at Etsy
Gorgeous Ring Made From Skateboards
It turns out skateboards are a popular resource for many upcyclers. In fact, the company MapleXO has designed an entire portfolio of beautiful jewelry and accessories made from boards.
MapleXO owner Lindsay Jo Holmes says, “With such amazing art and talent that is put into the graphics and production of a skateboard deck, they deserve way more than to sit in a landfill after they’ve been skated.”
Price: $64 at MapleXO
Wine Bottle Candle Chandelier
This outdoor chandelier is coated with rust-resistant paint with 6 wine angle-cut wine bottles and suspended by a 10" chain. You can drop candles into the bottles, either votives or tapered candles or even solar lights if you want to ecological minded about your outdoor lighting.
Price: $159 at Hipcycle
Book Lamp with Burlap Shade
This unique lamp is created from a wood base, UL approved electrical parts and, best of all, antique books that can be more than 100 years old! Since these are actual books, care must be taken in dusting the lamp, but that's a small price to pay for the book lover in your life. The creator of these lamps can also create a custom lamp from books that you provide..
Price: $290 at Etsy
Urban Ash Wall Clock
This beautiful wall clock was crafted by Chicago-based Rebuilding Exchange, a company that diverts interesting materials from landfills and repurposes them, as well as makes them available to others. Sixteen inches in diameter, this minimalist clock is powered by quartz with a face made from urban lumber.
Price: $105 at rxmade.org
Hand-crafted from recycled fence wood and scrapped plastic, these sharks stand at 16-1/2 inches tall and 12 inches wide. A few of these would make for a great decoration by the pool, either on the ground or hung by the included saw-tooth hanger. Be patient though, the artist makes each one by hand and can get behind if overwhelmed with orders for this popular product.
Price: $32 each at Etsy
Can Tab Belt
Who would have thought those soda can tabs could be fashioned into something so stylish? Closely threaded together with black acrylic yarn and held together with a silver buckle, this belt runs 41 inches long and can go with many different outfits.
Price: $25 at Etsy
Looptworks is an Oregon company that takes issue with the fact that the apparel manufacturing industry is remarkably wasteful. In fact, it says clothing makers send 1 million tons of fabric to the dump each year and that it takes more than 400 gallons of fresh water to produce one cotton t-shirt, with 10% of global carbon impact stemming from the production of textiles. How can you help? Buy upcycled clothes. If this knee-length jacket doesn’t suit you, Looptworks offers several inexpensive tee shirts at its store, as well.
Price: $85 at Looptworks
Want more? In addition to the websites we’ve featured here, Etsy is a superb source of upcycled products—there are currently more than 306,000 upcycled creations for sale there.