First, where did upcycling start?

Upcycling or repurposing an item is when you give new life to something that would otherwise end up in a landfill, such as an old bookcase. With upcycling, you have an opportunity to decorate your home or apartment without spending a ton of money and keep items out of landfills. 

Most of us learned to recycle at a young age (I like to credit Captain Planet & the Planeteers for their excellent propaganda). You separate your glass, plastic, green waste, and other recyclable materials and place them on the curb to get picked up. But what if you could use something that you already have to create something new?

According to the EPA, the average person produces 4.9 pounds of waste per person per day (source link), So what if you could turn that into something you can refresh while helping the environment and your budget?

Where can you start?

We’ve all have that one crafty friend who is always talking about “upcycling” and “repurposing,” but what exactly is it, and where do you start?

First, identify the item you want to repurpose and gather some inspiration.  Pinterest and other social media platforms like Tik-Tok & YouTube have thousands of ideas and inspiration. Most social media platforms have detailed tutorials and include a list of materials. Your item can be as simple as a picture frame, old bedsheets, a table, bookcase, even a broken plate!

Check out some of our favorite easy & crafty ideas from “Six Clever Sisters” and “Do Dodson Designs.”

Candle Jar Succulent Planter: Full tutorial here.

(Courtesy of: Six Clever Sisters)

Picture Frame Tray: Full tutorial here.

(Courtesy of: Do Dodson Designs)

Things to Remember:

Don’t forget to take before and after photos. You’ll love to look back at what your project looked like before and what it became.

Once you have identified your item, gather your materials and an area where you can work. You can use your kitchen, spare bedroom, garage, or outside. Make sure you protect your work surface with newspaper, grocery bags, or canvas.  

If your project calls for a tool you don’t have readily available such as a saw, you can always rent one from a hardware store; even better, borrow from a friend/family member. 

Love to create but don’t have the room to use them? 

Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and other social media sites have free classifieds to sell projects online to someone who would love to purchase items you created. 

Upcycling is a fun way to turn everyday objects into something new. There is no wrong or write. You just have to start!

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The seasons are changing, and now that we are moving into Fall, it’s time to prepare the house for colder weather. 

Here are ten tasks that you can do to help prepare your home for colder weather. 

  1. Gutters- Clean and inspect gutters. Clean out downspouts and any clogs from the falling leaves and debris.    
  2. Furnace- Test heaters to make sure they are working correctly and have the furnace serviced if needed.
  3. Filters- When is the last time you changed the furnace filters? Most models suggest changing your filters every three months. Now is a good time, since you’ll be spending more time indoors. 
  4. Faucets- Drain and cover outdoor faucets and remove and store hoses and sprinklers. 
  5. Safety Equipment- Test smoke and carbon monoxide devices. Check the expiration date of the device and replace batteries or unit if needed. Check the expiration date of the fire extinguisher and replace it if needed. If you don’t have one, you should! Test and service any generators or emergency equipment. 
  6. Outdoor Furniture-  Clean and store all outdoor furniture and decorations. 
  7. Gardening Tools- Clean, dry, and put away all gardening tools to keep them from rusting. 
  8. Shed & Garage-  Organize and clean out the garage and shed. Donate items that you’re not using anymore and store all summer items. 
  9. Fireplace- Clean and inspect chimney and fireplace. Schedule a service provider if needed. Make sure you have a safe place to store ashes and that your tools are functioning correctly. 
  10. Roof- Inspect and clean roof. Remove moss and leaves as they accumulate. Check for any damage and schedule a service provider if needed. 

Once your checklist is complete, and you’re ready for colder weather, you can sit back and enjoy your comfy and cozy house. 

When did I get so much stuff?

Do you ever open a closet and wonder, “Where did all this stuff come from!” I’m convinced that clutter builds on its own as we sleep…

I come from a family that loves to clean, organize, and declutter. I know, it is weird. It does bring us joy. Even then, we all have a spot that seems to pile up first.

The big thing to remember when decluttering is to start simple! Don’t try to do the whole house at once. Start with a drawer or closet and work up to a room.

Here are some everyday clutter items to help you start. Pick one and go from there. Little by little, it will make a big difference. 

  • Clothes- Most of us have too many! We enjoy them, but after a while, they don’t have to same look or feel. Go through your current clothes and get rid of the clothes you don’t feel good wearing. You know you won’t wear that again. Then turn all your hangers backward. As you wear and hang back up, your clothes turn the hangers back forward-facing. Then you can tell what items you wear regularly and what you never pick to wear. Those need to go!
    • If you have professional business clothes and would like to donate them, there are businesses like Dress for Success that help women get the clothes they need for job searching and to better their lives. 
  • Blankets and Comforters- There are only so many blankets and comforters we need. It’s time to go through those and give away the ones you won’t use again. Shelters are always looking for donations of warm blankets.
    • Adult & Children Shelters need blankets for people in need. Check out your local organizations like Join here in Oregon.
    • Animal Shelters- Check with your local animal shelter. 
  • Board Games- Really think about when the last time you played with some of those games? Keep your favorite and donate the rest. Someone would enjoy playing with those. 
  • DVD’s- Go through your DVD’s and again ask, When did I last watch this? Or watch it. Likely, you won’t enjoy it the same way you thought you would. If it’s not something you would watch multiple times and still enjoy it, it’s time for it to go.
  • Tupperware- Where do these things come from, and where is the lid! Go through and match up your Tupperware. If it doesn’t have a top, you’re most likely not going to use it. I went through and got rid of all my Tupperware a few years ago and switched to glass bowls and glass containers with lids. I have a few sets, and that’s it. I haven’t missed my Tupperware and don’t miss the clutter that it brought. 
  • Coffee Cups- Getting coffee cups as a gift is very common. There are so many cute ones out there! But, everyone has a cup or two that they love and use repeatedly. If they have chips, broken, or collecting dust, its time to pick a new favorite and let the rest go.  
  • Towels and Dishtowels- Towels seem to pile up a linen closet so fast. We all have towels we have had forever. We have cleaning towels and good towels. But how many do we need? Keep a couple of sets of both good and bad towels and let the rest go. 
    • Animal shelters use towels all the time and would most likely benefit from your donation.  
  • Dishware- Miss-matched dishes and broken dishes can go. Large pieces that you don’t use anymore can go. Even small party dishes that are not being used or haven’t been used for a long time can go. 
  • Medications- Go through expired drugs and medicines that you no longer use. Any prescriptions that you can’t or won’t be finishing can go.
    • Check with your local pharmacy or law enforcement agency. Your local city also has lists of where to dispose of items. For Washington County, check out their website. 
  • Old Paint- This is one that I just went through. I pulled all the old paint colors that I won’t use anymore as well as expired paint. Old paint and cans can be recycled or tossed.  
    • If the paint in the can is dry to the touch, it can be tossed in the garbage. You can check with your local company to confirm. 
    • Many states have a paint recycle program. I found a local drop off center through PaintCare.org. The best part was it’s free to drop off old paint! 
  • Pet Toys- Like most kids, dogs have their favorite toys too. They play with the same ones leaving a layer of unused toys at the bottom of the basket. 
    • Check with your local dog shelter to see if they take donations. Another pup waiting for their forever home would enjoy a new toy! The Oregon Human Society will take pet toys for donation.

Now What?

When you figured out what you’re going to tackle first, it’s time to grab a trash bag and a container for donations. First, pick up all visible trash. 

Then start to go through your items, asking yourself a few questions. 

  1. Have I used this is a year? If not, the likelihood of you using it again is small, and maybe someone else might use it more.
  2. Would I repurchase this? If you saw it again today at a store and would pass on buying it, you probably don’t need the one you have at home. 

Once you finished purging the items that no longer have a place, it’s time to clean up.

My tip to you:

I always have a cardboard box set up in the garage labeled “Donations.” This way, I can toss things in as they come along. Then when the box is full, off it goes, and here comes a new box.

Now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your newly cleaned and open space!

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