Blog by Sophie
Sustainable Merton Community Champion & Waste Team Leader
These days we have so much plastic in our homes, and it is tempting to head straight for the recycling bin when we are finished with it. Before letting go of your plastics though, consider what else they could be! Upcycling not only helps the planet but it can also help save you money, and is a great creative activity to do with your kids as well as a wonderful way to unwind.
Here are a few ideas of how to upcycle some tricky plastic materials to make something new:
Eco-bricks are a global community movement to take plastic out of the environment. They are essentially plastic bottles packed with shredded, single-use, nonrecyclable plastics, compressed to create a reusable building block. They can be used for all sorts of home projects, from footstools and garden benches to doorstops and beyond. Why not use Eco-bricks as a fun educational project with your kids? From creating the bricks themselves, to working out the amount of plastic saved, to building a finished product, this is a creative way to educate your children about sustainability and plastic pollution.
Read our how-to guide on eco-bricks or head to ecobricks.org to find out more.
Upcycling toys to fuel your child’s imagination
Children’s toys! They are often so hard to recycle due to their mix of materials. If your toys still have some life left in them, donating them to charity is a great option. However, if they are beyond repair, they needn’t go to landfill. Why not create your own ‘toy laboratory’, encouraging your child to make something new out of different parts of old toys, a great way to fuel their creativity and reduce landfill. Or make cute accessories using old bits of toys, a few hair bands and a glue gun.
If you enjoy textiles and crafting, then making ‘plarn’ or plastic-yarn out of old plastic bags will provide you with endless options for craft projects. You can crochet or weave with it to make ornate flowers, festive decorations, rugs, bags, the list is endless. Follow this link for an online tutorial in Plarn making and check out Pinterest for research and project ideas.
If crafting isn’t your thing, keep an eye out for places where you can buy beautiful gifts (for yourself or others) made from upcycled materials, such as Luxecycled: the recycled marketplace, founded by Sustainable Merton Community Champion Gilly. Read Gilly's blog to find out how her company is keeping waste out of landfill by encouraging shoppers to buy reused, repurposed and recycled items.
For more ideas on how to creatively upcycle, check out our blog.