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How to Upcycle

Resist the urge to toss your old stuff; with a little ingenuity you can transform trash into treasure. Just follow these guidelines on how to upcycle.


  • Step 1: Find potential in everything. Before you throw anything away, do an internet search with the name of the item, along with the phrase "turn it into." Chances are someone has already found a great way to upcycle it.
  • FACT: The word upcycling was coined by a German contractor to describe the process of converting used building materials into quality goods.
  • Step 2: Create one-of-a-kind jewelry out of items you'd otherwise toss: old buttons; scraps of leather, stray board game pieces, bottle caps -- let your imagination run wild! All you need are a pair of pliers and some jewelry-making supplies from your local craft store.
  • TIP: Keep staples like flour, butter, spices, broth, olive oil and vinegar on hand to help transform leftovers.
  • Step 3: Comb your closets for clothes that can be tweaked into something more stylish. Have items with no fashion potential? Transform old T-shirts into a rag rug, or a sweater into a throw pillow.
  • Step 4: Upcycle your leftovers by turning them into gourmet meals. No need to take a cooking course: just plug your ingredients into a search engine and see what comes up.
  • Step 5: Know what upcycling is. Unlike recycling -- which simply repurposes items -- upcycling increases their value.

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