It’s strange that something so seemingly inoffensive as green living should divide people the way it does. But the truth is that in the present day, recycling and pollution awareness makes you a hippie. At least, that’s the impression one can easily get. Why there is a need to politicize something so simple is anyone’s guess. But be sure of this: it happens.
You, meanwhile, do not need to give any thought to the political implications of doing it if you don’t want to. There are several splendid reasons to reuse and recycle things that have become unfit for their original use. Chief among these, if you want to be cynical about it, is the fact that it saves you money. If it saves on resources too, and helps the planet by doing so, that’s a bonus.
When it comes to recycling, we all have a mental picture that the word brings up. For most of us, it’s the idea of putting glass jars and plastic bottles in separate garbage containers so they can be remade into new material. Rather than take more resources out of the planet, why not do it?
There is another way to get more use out of something that seems to have outlived its usefulness. And as a homeowner, it might be of interest to you.
Your household furniture, as we all know, can only last so long. But if you feel like it’s got to the end, you may not need to spend thousands replacing it. There’s another way of doing things – upcycling.
The Pros and Cons of Upcycling
The term itself was first used about twenty years ago to describe a new way of reusing materials that would otherwise go to waste. At the time the popularity of recycling as an environmental issue was in its infancy. When bottles went to be recycled, the result was lower quality glass. But what if, in the act of remaking something, you could make it better?
Pro: You Can Get A Better Item While Saving Money
We’ve been upcycling for longer than even the paragraph above suggests. When our homes start to look a bit dated, we breathe new life into them by redecorating, and usually add functionality into the bargain.
So say your kitchen chairs have started to creak and wobble. The seats are still sturdy, but the legs are on the way out. Why not keep the seat but lose the back and replace the legs? Add longer legs, and you have stools for a breakfast bar.
Con: It Takes A Modicum Of Expertise
If you’re not especially crafty, then turning an old chair into a new stool might not come naturally. To make it like new, you may need to make alterations to the seat that involve sanding, refinishing and even cutting. Does that sound like something you can do? Think carefully, because it can be trickier than it sounds.
Pro: What Else Are You Going To Do With The Item?
Although upcycling can take more work than you initially expect, it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. If you were going to throw it away anyway, then you might as well see what can be done with it. If it doesn’t work out, then you have to throw the seat away. Which you were going to do anyway, so no harm, no foul. If it does work out, then you just saved yourself some money.
Con: It Takes More Time Than Just Buying Something
If you’re not someone who does DIY as a rule, then there are a few issues with upcycling a piece of furniture. Firstly, as mentioned, it’s not easy and will take some effort and time on your part. Secondly, you’ll need to buy some of the equipment that is needed for the job. By the time you’ve bought the tools, varnish and possibly upholstering material, you may be at a point where buying new would be better.
Pro: It’s Good For The Environment
Let’s be real for a moment. We live on a planet with finite resources. There are very real legal battles fought between those who want to use more of them and those who want to protect them. If you think about it for a moment, we as humans are being a bit selfish by using more wood to make dining chairs to sit in. Not only have that, but the issues with sourcing materials only served to drive the price up.
If you can use reclaimed materials – like breaking down a wooden pallet to make chairs or a futon – that’s better for our planet. If you aren’t crafty yourself, then there are experts who upcycle old materials to make new furniture.
Con: It’s Never Entirely New
While turning old furniture into new does allow you to salvage something usable, the fact remains that it’s been used. It has aged, and eventually it will break down. Its fine to upcycle occasional furniture, but when it comes to your living room furniture it’s a risk. You can find Noir Furniture or similar for a very affordable price. Given the durability that comes from quality, it’s something you’ll have for years.
Pro: It’s A Skill You Can Hone
Yes, the first chair you make yourself may be useless. The finish may be too thin in places and the wood too rough to sit on in good clothes. The second and third may be similarly awful. But with repeated effort, you will get better at this and before too long be a dab hand at it.
The question then becomes: How many chairs do you have before you run out? It’s a skill worth honing for the future, but you may need a Plan B.
There are good points and bad points to upcycling. Chances are it’s never going to completely replace buying new furniture, so the industry is safe. That’s not what matters, though. The thing to focus on is that there is a way to give new life to things around your home that would otherwise be disposed of. You could find yourself living a thrifty, green life without ever having seen it as a lifestyle choice.