March 9, 2011

Repurposing stuff is not just for kids anymore

repurposed tinI had a tea container I couldn’t recycle, so I repurposed it with a strip of cute paper.

GOOD Magazine‘s latest contest asked for photographs of something repurposed and today they announced the winner, beautiful lamps made from glass bottles, by Lauren Lee. They’re stunning and blur art and design together, in the sense that she used essentially a readymade and added both intent and function.

Contributor Ivy Lane calls repurposing objects and materials “upcycling”, in stark contrast to downcycling, which typically refers to the deterioration of plastic as it undergoes multiple recycling processes. Repurposing is the ultimate sustainable thing to do with stuff that already exists. It extends its life, creates something new (our brains thrive on novelty, hence the rampant consumer culture), and inspires creative thinking to imagine objects being used for another purpose in new combinations. It’s easy to think of repurposing as taking something easily recyclable and giving it a new lease on life, but where it succeeds most wonderfully is in saving garbage-bound objects from an eternity in a landfill, bringing to mind the old adage, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” (Just check out some select submissions to see what I mean.)

I hope repurposing can find a home nestled between the handmade revolution and high design so as to appeal to anyone. In fact, there is no reason it cannot.

75th graphicThis daily green blog challenge is in celebration of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday, supporting the David Suzuki Foundation. Please help me out by sponsoring me online now.

Note: I am writing solely on my own behalf, and do not claim to represent the David Suzuki Foundation or its views here.