Upcycle, Refurbish, Repurpose: The Green DIY Project Guide

For many, the most enjoyable gifts are those that someone took the extra time and care to hand make.  A good DIY is not only more appreciated, it’s usually less expensive and more creative than a purchased alternative. Still, one question remains – is it more sustainable? To ensure your next project meets a “green craft” criteria, consider the following Green DIY Project Guidelines.

There are three key terms every crafter should know in order to determine their project’s sustainability. These terms will generally be used to categorize the type of green DIY project you are doing.

1.)    Upcycle: Taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value. Unlike “recycling,” which may downgrade the quality of the material or product produced after processing, upcycling implies that you maintain or enhance the integrity of the material or product making an end result of equal or greater value. Check out these colorblock hanging lights made from upcycled wine bottles.

2.)    Refurbish: You can equate this term to the similar terms “renovate” or “restore.” To refurbish is to make something clean, neat, complete or bright again. When you refurbish something, you transform it from old to new. This do-it-yourselfer refurbished a vintage suitcase with some polish, a hot glue gun and some leftover fabric.

3.)    Repurpose: To give an item a new purpose rather than discard it. This ceiling light fixture made out of repurposed crates is a great example.

Whether your project is an upcycled, a refurbished or a repurposed project, there are a few overarching rules to abide by:

1.)    Minimize waste by maximizing your supply’s potential! One way to make your DIY less eco-friendly and more costly is by over-buying supplies instead of maximizing the potential use of the supplies you have. Too often people will spend a ton of money at craft stores for their projects, only to discard left over materials they didn’t end up needing. Use every inch of fabric you have and save leftovers for your next project.  Invest in a strong, eco-friendly adhesive (like Eco-Glue) instead of the old white school glue; you’ll only need drops instead of dollops.

2.)    Search your home for hidden treasures! Knick knacks, trinkets, left over take-out chopsticks – you name it – all can be used as supplies for your DIY project. You can keep a small box somewhere in your home with potential supplies to use at a later date. Even your yard holds treasures! Check out this natural leaf stamp project.

3.) Use eco-friendly products. Probably the most obvious way to make your project more sustainable is to stick to using eco-friendly products. They DO exist! And many of them can be found on the Crafting a Green World website, where you’ll find ideas like these non-toxic homemade finger paints.

The real key to keeping your project green is to always be mindful of the environment. Think about the supplies, products and materials you use and come up with new and unique ways to upcycle, refurbish or repurpose your everyday items.

For more ways to DIY and go green, you can also check out The Green Schoolhouse Series Pinterest board or read our other posts on the many ways to go green and save money and  Love themed DIY projects


Filed under Recycling, Sustainability, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Upcycle, Refurbish, Repurpose: The Green DIY Project Guide

  1. Rene Beight

    What a great post! I feel we (I) tend to lump all these terms together sometimes, so it’s nice to see that they actually DO mean different things. I am inspired to make those wine lights! Thanks for the creative post :)

    • Definitely! It’s great to categorize your projects in terms of sustainability; it gives you a new perspective on the benefits of DIY. The wine lights are so creative! A bit more challenging than some projects, but well worth the effort.

  2. Sara Rylov

    Great ideas–refurbishing old suitcases sounds like a fun DIY. Can’t wait to experiment for my next vacation.

  3. Sebastian Bar

    I agree with Rene. I can now imagine doing this for many things!

  4. Pingback: The Many Uses of an Old T-Shirt! | The Green Schoolhouse Series

  5. Linnie

    My partner and I stumbled over here from a different
    web page and thought I may as well check things out.

    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page repeatedly.