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View Full Version : When is it ok to upcycle/reuse something?



nakmeister
23-10-2010, 11:43 AM
I was just reading an old post about someone reusing vinyl records to make various different beautiful things. They mentioned using records that had been languishing in charity shops. Someone else objected and said (s)he hoped the records were totally unusable as both records and sleeves are works of art in themselves. I have had something similar with my upcycled notebooks. Is it enough that they are piled high in charity shops, car boot sales and attics unwanted, or do they have to be totally unusable for their original function? Or somewhere in between?

I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts.

Steve

MornieG Jewellery
23-10-2010, 12:01 PM
I don't see the problem in reusing someone elses cast off to make something else, beautiful, useful or just something good to look at. "Art" in all its guises is subjective and personal. What doesn't get sold in charity shops quickly gets dumped, burned, sent to land fill, so which is best ? your way I think. Mo.XX

Critchley
23-10-2010, 12:06 PM
I agree with Mo. There is the old adage "One mans meat is anothers poison". We all have different ideas of likes and dislikes. Go with your instinct and good luck with your projects. Most crafters have a real 'feel' for things and would know whether or not it should be recycled for its own benefit.

Kiamyka
23-10-2010, 12:11 PM
I too would go for it- much better to be used than end up in landfill - and of course purchases are supporting the charity too
win win in my eyes :)

removed10
23-10-2010, 04:15 PM
Okay, so just think of all the charity shops all over the UK...and teh ones here in the US - there are TONS of old records around. If you try to sell them on ebay you won;t get much for them - maybe one or two really rare ones might bring something...I am sure lots of museums have lots of records in their archives for displays...

I say use 'em! They were mass-produced. Some are really cool. Most are just one of thousands.

I actually have about 150 old LPs. Some have way cool covers, some of which are about to be redirected - I am making a couple of photo albums and will use these album covers for the album covers....you know what I mean....

shpangle
23-10-2010, 06:43 PM
I was only thinking about this very subject last night! and yes I was the one who "hoped the records were totally unusable as both records and sleeves are works of art in themselves"

Could you take an old book, in good condition and perfectly readable from a charity shop or elsewhere and rip its pages out just to make them into gift tags or something else "crafty"? I know I couldn't and the same applies to me for records. It is all very much personal opinion, but my personal opinion is that upcycling or recycling or whatever you want to call it is getting very much a farce.

Another example this week happened to me. I went shopping for some old watch parts (wanted to try my hand at a bit of Steampunk jewellery). Anyway, I entered one second hand shop where there were loads of mechanisms from old watches where they had been ripped out of working watches and pocket watches, some dating back to the 1800's....just for the gold content on the casing....destroyed art just for money. I was almost sick and needless to say didn't get any (even though they were virtually giving them away).

No, I couldn't destroy anything like that, what just to make something retro looking that will probably be thrown away when it goes out of fashion.

Mick

Critchley
23-10-2010, 07:49 PM
At the risk of repeating myself I did say it was a matter of personal preference, I also said that a genuine crafter would have a 'feel' as to whether they should recycle an object or save it for perpetuity. Well, something like that anyway. lol.

shpangle
23-10-2010, 08:01 PM
genuine crafter

Totally agree Carol, and you have just mentioned a couple of very important words there too!

Mick :)

bodrighy
23-10-2010, 08:25 PM
I suppose it all depends on how we see what is being up cycled. I use old furniture for the wood. if it was a decent piece I wouldn't chop it up as I also love old furniture myself. We only have 3 pieces we have bought new in our house. I have no qualms however of taking a beat up broken beyond reopair sideboard and using the mahoganyin it, especially as it is usually spanish mahogany which is now an endangered tree. The same applies to old records and books. I collect books but sometimes a nbook is a ruun of the mill mass produced item that has no value, monetary or intrinsic. Records are often the same, mass produced, no real value (either way) and so wouldn't be bothered using them to make something else. It isn't just down to the monetary value of an object, it is also whether it truly is an art object in it's own right.

Pete

removed10
23-10-2010, 10:05 PM
Totally agree Carol, and you have just mentioned a couple of very important words there too!Mick :)

Ouch, Mick!

shpangle
24-10-2010, 05:47 AM
Ouch, Mick!

oooh...I do like to be controversial now and again ;)

Mick

AmyDave
24-10-2010, 08:13 AM
I think it is always ok to upcycle or reuse- It's just down to personal preference what you do...

I use old rags for rugs- these are well past there use but I have made one out of a new bedsheet for a gift as it perfectly matched their colour scheme.

I also melt vinyl, I was born only a couple of years before cds came out so vinyls don't hold any sentimental value to me, to me they are just another product that fills a landfill.
And most charity shops round here don't stock a lot of vinyl in their shops as they take up room and don't sell..They tend to give them to me before they go in the bins..
My melted vinyl has been given out as gifts and I have used quite a bit in my home, that means they have avoided a landfill and have gotten another use.

I try to recycle absolutely everything I can...tin cans get makeovers in our house too!

My house is full of old furniture I have been given for free and a lot of things I have recycled- my views are fairly green, I hate to see usable things down at the tip (they tend to end up in my boot) but it's also an ethos I have adopted after living such a throw away lifestyle for years and getting into massive debt...

It's personal choice...I may only be a hobbyist crafter but it's crafting, Ienjoy it and people enjoy my recycled gifts....

MornieG Jewellery
24-10-2010, 10:20 AM
oooh...I do like to be controversial now and again ;)

Mick

Everyone is entitled to state their opinion Mick as long as they are tollerent of others views at the same time. Mo.XX

shpangle
24-10-2010, 01:21 PM
Everyone is entitled to state their opinion Mick as long as they are tollerent of others views at the same time. Mo.XX

OK, here is my view on the subject:

"when is it OK to upcycle/reuse something?" - When the object no longer serves a purpose. The Boney-M record in the charity shop or Peter and Jane book at the car-boot sale may not seem to serve a purpose to the "crafter" wanting to melt the record or rip out the pages, however to the Boney-M fan or book collector it may be seen as a rare item.

So as long as due care and thought has gone into the object before it is dismantled, melted, ripped or altered then that is fine. However, there are also other aspects to consider:

If you start making unnecessary purchases. For example, lets say you recycle your own baked bean cans into pencil holders, however the demand was such that you could no longer support it with your original baked bean consumption. So you started buying more baked beans just to meet the demand for your pencil holders.

Using additional resources and products to upcycle. The additional bought products and use of the earth's energy needed to upcycle the original item may negate the benefits of recycling in the first place.

Depriving others. I source most of my children's clothes and toys from charity shops and when they are finished with, they usually go back to the charity shop. Now, if I suddenly discovered that all the toys and clothes were being bought by a "crafter" to be ripped and altered for the sake of 'art' I may be a little annoyed.

All my personal opinion of course, and obviously everyone is entitled to their personal opinion.

Mick

AmyDave
24-10-2010, 03:18 PM
The problem is that majority of unsellable items in a charity shop go staright into bins at the end of the month and end up in a landfill.
The majority of people do not recycle/reuse/or pass on items and most of it goes to a landfill..

I like to make things and reuse up peoples old 'junk' and mine and make something new, pretty, usable and I much prefer this option than it ending up in a landfill, as that is the ultimate waste of something 'usable'..

shpangle
24-10-2010, 05:13 PM
The problem is that majority of unsellable items in a charity shop go staright into bins at the end of the month and end up in a landfill.
The majority of people do not recycle/reuse/or pass on items and most of it goes to a landfill..

I like to make things and reuse up peoples old 'junk' and mine and make something new, pretty, usable and I much prefer this option than it ending up in a landfill, as that is the ultimate waste of something 'usable'..

Just noticed that I was on 666 posts so had to quickly log-on and make another post (not a nice number to be on)!

Sounds like the ultimate solution would be to come to some kind of agreement with charity shops, so that the thrown out stuff is intercepted and turned into art.

Just a question though, aren't charity shops forced to recycle like the rest of us? i.e. plastics sent to plastic recycling, paper to paper recycling etc etc? I know that they do use a 'rag man' for unwanted clothing but doesn't the rest of their unwanted items get recycled as well?

Mick

AmyDave
24-10-2010, 08:39 PM
The charity shop near me just puts everything in their big biffa bin, no recycling seems to be happening...so me being as cheeky as I am asked for anything they couldn't use and anyway I am way too short to get a good rummage in a biffa bin :D

shpangle
24-10-2010, 09:03 PM
The charity shop near me just puts everything in their big biffa bin, no recycling seems to be happening...so me being as cheeky as I am asked for anything they couldn't use and anyway I am way too short to get a good rummage in a biffa bin :D

Thats really bad :o couldn't they give you some help, I would have thought it would be in their interests to cut down on their waste!

I have read one story about a large chain of charity shops (Ox***) who were caught clearing shelves of books to be taken away to be burnt (because they weren't selling at the ridiculous prices they were charging). They wouldn't even price them down to 10p to make a little bit of money!

Mick

Critchley
24-10-2010, 10:17 PM
Thats really bad :o couldn't they give you some help, I would have thought it would be in their interests to cut down on their waste!

I have read one story about a large chain of charity shops (Ox***) who were caught clearing shelves of books to be taken away to be burnt (because they weren't selling at the ridiculous prices they were charging). They wouldn't even price them down to 10p to make a little bit of money!

Mick
I find our Ox*** shop expensive, particularly books. some are 2, The sad thing is that Care Homes, Day Care centres and places like that could have them in their swop shops. Thats where all mine go.
The other point about recycling is that not all Councils are scrupulous about it. You are never sure where it is going to end up.

alibear
24-10-2010, 10:33 PM
What an interesting thread! Here are my views on the subject...

Firstly I LOVE charity shops - except for the one Mick mentioned previously! The very vast majority of mine and my sons clothes come from them and I personally think we look nice, when they aren't from charity shops they tend to be second hand off ebay. I'm also a massive freecycle fan.

The latest bag I showed off on here - pink and black with a flower corsage thing on it had handles made out of a belt I bought in a charity shop recently for a squid. The belt was perfectly usable and in excellent condition otherwise it wouldn't have been good enough for me to use on one of my bags. I'm sure a belt fanatic somewhere would be peed off with my for cutting it up and ending it's life as a belt but quite frankly I don't care as in my eyes it makes a very lovely pair of bag handles. Said belt fanatic should've got off their backside and beaten me to it! - They didn't and it's tough!

I think it's not just about the item being no longer of use for it's original purpose but are you improving the item's worth even if it can still be used for it's original purpose? Both views need to be considered.

If I had taken the stance that the belt was still able to function as a belt so I can't use it, then I would have had to go home and source something new to make a pair of handles from, which could also be seen as wasteful.

Books among a few other things are however an exception to my rule. Cutting up a book I would find incredibly difficult to do, I know because I have done it in the past on one occasion but not in the name of art - I did it to make a teaching resource out of. It's not something I'll do again, I kept the unreadable remains of the book out of guilt and still have it sitting on my bookshelf over 10 years later. There is something sacred about books in my opinion.

nakmeister
24-10-2010, 11:21 PM
I hadn't realised that the charity shops throw things out quite so quickly - I was thinking of trying to come to some sort of arrangement for items that are unsaleable due to being damaged or incomplete, but now I'll ask for items they are throwing out due to being on the shelves too long!

AmyDave
25-10-2010, 08:09 AM
I love chairty shops as I buy majority of our clothes from them-mostly mine but that said I have noticed that they won't do sales?
They are after all a business and sales help some of the biggest companies shift stock.

It is a shame that so much stuff ends up in landfills, this is why I am cheeky and ask for things and use freecycle a lot.
The amount of old curtains and bedding I have got for rag rugs is unbelievable, my bedroom is looking like a haberdashery!


But all this said we are quite a wasteful country, stuck in a 'throw it away' culture...

shpangle
25-10-2010, 09:04 AM
The latest bag I showed off on here - pink and black with a flower corsage thing on it had handles made out of a belt I bought in a charity shop recently for a squid. The belt was perfectly usable and in excellent condition otherwise it wouldn't have been good enough for me to use on one of my bags. I'm sure a belt fanatic somewhere would be peed off with my for cutting it up and ending it's life as a belt but quite frankly I don't care as in my eyes it makes a very lovely pair of bag handles. Said belt fanatic should've got off their backside and beaten me to it! - They didn't and it's tough!



Whaaat! :mad: Oh Ali you didn't! I have been looking for a belt like that for ages to finish off my collection of 1970s vintage belts..you could have asked on the 'belt collectors forum' and you would have had loads of offers for belt swaps.

Not only was that belt worth hundreds of pounds, its sentimental value was worth so much more than that. Do you realise the famous people who have worn that belt and you have cut it up to make a pair of bag handles! Couldn't you have used an old bit of rope or something?

And then you say there is something sacred about books!!! But a book is just a book, I cut them up every day as they make great wallpaper. But a belt, the history behind a belt, the fact that they have helped many a man and lady over the years, what could we have done without them.

Any you....you...you...have cut one up!!!!!!!!




Only joking :mf: but it just goes to show, as mentioned by Carol earlier, "we all have different ideas of likes and dislikes"

Mick

Critchley
25-10-2010, 10:20 AM
Oh Mick. You are naughty. I began to panic then, I thought "Good grief, we have another fight on our hands" and the palpitations started. Phew. What a relief. Don't do that to me first thing in the morning, I can't handle it. lol
.

alibear
25-10-2010, 02:28 PM
Mick - easy answer, buy my bag and go through my bin to find the buckle and I will sew said belt back together for you for a small fee ;) good as new. But don't even think about throwing away the now handleless but still lovely bag, it might make a nice magazine rack with a little work!

I did once wallpaper a room with newspaper, it looked quite cool, it was in the old coal hole which we turned into an indoor shed thing, but I whitewashed it afterwards as the husband kept getting distracted reading the stories everytime I sent him to get a screwdriver!

MornieG Jewellery
25-10-2010, 02:32 PM
I did the downstairs cloakroom for a client in the financial times when it used to be pink, looked great. Mo.XX

shpangle
25-10-2010, 03:08 PM
Oh Mick. You are naughty. I began to panic then, I thought "Good grief, we have another fight on our hands" and the palpitations started. Phew. What a relief. Don't do that to me first thing in the morning, I can't handle it. lol
.

Oooh its been a long time since I've given a lady palpitations ;)


Mick - easy answer, buy my bag and go through my bin to find the buckle and I will sew said belt back together for you for a small fee ;) good as new. But don't even think about throwing away the now handleless but still lovely bag, it might make a nice magazine rack with a little work!

I did once wallpaper a room with newspaper, it looked quite cool, it was in the old coal hole which we turned into an indoor shed thing, but I whitewashed it afterwards as the husband kept getting distracted reading the stories everytime I sent him to get a screwdriver!

Just been to your shop in the hope of buying the bag (I am in need of a nice magazine rack) but I couldn't see it! So out of frustration and assuming another belt collector has beaten me to it, I spent the 80 I was prepared to pay for it on a nice retro pair of braces.

I like the idea of wallpapering a room with newspaper, if only I had known about that earlier this morning, it would have saved me all the effort of ripping up the signed 1st addition copies of the Harry Potter books I found in the local charity shop. Oh well, at least they won't go to waste, think I will make a nice paper mache sculpture of J.K Rowling out of them, now thats what I call upcycling.

Mick

MornieG Jewellery
25-10-2010, 03:16 PM
I like the idea of wallpapering a room with newspaper, if only I had known about that earlier this morning, it would have saved me all the effort of ripping up the signed 1st addition copies of the Harry Potter books I found in the local charity shop. Oh well, at least they won't go to waste, think I will make a nice paper mache sculpture of J.K Rowling out of them, now thats what I call upcycling.

Mick

I will help you rip them up Mick :behindsofa: Mo.XX

alibear
25-10-2010, 03:33 PM
Heehee Mo, me too!

Valarium
28-10-2010, 10:07 PM
No, I couldn't destroy anything like that, what just to make something retro looking that will probably be thrown away when it goes out of fashion.
Mick

Goes out of fashion ?....you do know that there are complete sub genres and social networks of steampunkers ?....right ?
Don't see it going out of style anytime soon....well maybe when 2012 rolls around lol

Val

kaod55
28-10-2010, 10:44 PM
I just wanted to add about the whole charity shop thing that they do throw away so much stuff. My shop is next door to one and they are always throwing out stuff, then the homeless come and raid our bins to see what they can find. I think it is a bit out of line as people are donating in good faith and think they are helping people and not wasting as much.
It is surprising how much and the types of things they throw away.
I dont donate stuff to charity shops as much as before, because if they are just going to throw it away, I could have done that myself. I try to donate in a more precise way. So my old jumpers n warm clothes go stright to a homeless shelter, and some old craft stuff went to the local playgroup for the children.

Ygerna
17-11-2010, 01:03 PM
fascinating thread. I never realised that it could be so controversial to buy something from a charity shop and repurpose it for something else.

I personally do not think there is a right or wrong answer. You have to go with your own choices and judgements. I have cut up books before but, they were mass produced paperbacks. If I were lucky enough to find a first (or second/third edition) of a book then you can be sure I would not destroy it. If I am making something, a dress up costume for the children perhaps then I think it fair game to go to a charity shop and buy something to chop up. Its better than going to a shop and buying something new, in my opinion.
The issue with old records is that the majority of people no longer have any means of actually playing them. Those that do, tend to be spe******ts or extremely passionate collectors. These are people who will trawl the charity shops looking for those rare records to snap up for pennies, and either keep or sell at auction to other avid collectors.
The world is not a big enough place to keep everything that is ever made in case it becomes worth something to someone at some point in time. Where ever possible if something can be given a new use, rather than left to languish on shelves, in cupboards or in landfill then that is a good thing.

Ygerna
17-11-2010, 01:14 PM
oh, why the stars? its not a swear word. Honest!

removed10
17-11-2010, 02:02 PM
It's some pharmaceutical word...the stars pop up all the time and everyone just ignores them. Everyone knows what you really mean, so worry not.

Ygerna
17-11-2010, 02:05 PM
It's some pharmaceutical word...the stars pop up all the time and everyone just ignores them. Everyone knows what you really mean, so worry not.


Phew! Thanks. I thought I'd broke it,:p

swirlyarts
17-11-2010, 07:11 PM
Interesting thread and right up my alley! I use old books in my work but I make sure that they are damaged in some way before I cut them up. In fact I have a deal with a local charity shop that legally cannot sell damaged books (they are a local one off shop not a chain). They save the damaged books for me (missing covers,pages,scribbled in etc) and they get a donation from me in return. They are pleased as they don't have to throw them out and pay to have them taken away (the council charges them to take their rubbish) and I'm happy as I get books that I can cut up safe in the knowledge that they would have been thrown away due to damage. It's a win win situation!

removed10
19-11-2010, 01:45 PM
>When is it ok to upcycle/reuse something?

Between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., Mondays and Tuesdays.

Just kidding. =)

atlanta
06-12-2010, 01:48 PM
i think giving soemthing a new lease of life is always a good thing but whatever your doing often soemone isnt goign to like it but i worked in charity shops alot of these books or records sit on those shelves for years and end up getting scrapped or recycled by other means

rosie75
07-12-2010, 02:15 PM
It all depends on the way you look at things. My cousin has papered her bathroom with music sheets, it looks really good.
Any jeans I have with broken zips I put to the side just in case one day I have time to turn them into a different piece of clothing, maybe perfectlyusable to someone who can sew in zips, but I can't so I will recycle
I used to work in a charity shop, it was run badly in my opinion. Manageress was more interested in bagging up clothes for the recycle men as they got so much per KG, she said it was an easier way of getting the figures to look good each week.
All the kids and baby stuff would go that way, never in the shop. it was awful
I left there as I didn't agree with the way they worked.
I think being creative with recycling/upcycling is what's important
People could probably virtually bash me for buying lovely socks and making them into monkeys etc, I am not buying them for the purpose intended, but sock monkeys and creatures bring a smile to someones face
Now, you really wouldn't want me to make them out of old socks with holes in would you?

dee_liteful
07-12-2010, 03:50 PM
Hmmm I have just accepted to make a collection for a company who spe******e in products made by hand from recycled products. i was going to pop to a charity shop or jumble sale for my fabrics. I just assumed this would be a good way to bring new life to the product with still fitting into the handmade way.