Earth Day 2023 Upcycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We have all been taught the 3Rs.

How many of us actually practice all three though? Many people are good at recycling; especially in cities that have recycling programs. The reducing of plastic bag and plastic straw usage is now being enforced by government laws. Yet we still have a lot of items over packaged in our marketplaces.

Beyond the cloth shopping bag or the kitchen storage bins, I think people struggle with the idea of reusing. You have to be a little creative and think out of the box sometimes.

This is where I like the idea of upcycling. According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, UPCYCLING is “to treat an item that has already been used in such a way that you make something of greater quality or value than the original item”.

For this Earth Day, I have a simple upcycle to show you, changing the chain on a necklace. This is an easy way to add personal value to an item.

Colourful Teardrop Necklace with very short gold chain. It is hanging on a white ceramic bust in front of a brick wall.

I found this necklace at a thrift shop and loved the colourful, plastic, teardrop design. Someone else’s recycle has now become my reuse. However, I look better with silver-toned metals and the chain was much too short. I already had some leftover chain from another project so this was a zero cost change for me. Since I wanted this necklace to go over my head, I didn’t even need to add a clasp! A length of chain, 2 jump rings, and five minutes, gave me a necklace that I will wear.

Colourful teardrop necklace upcycled with a longer silver chain.

Fixing jewellery can be a quick and easy reuse; it will help keep items out of the landfill. What would you need?

  • You need some pliers and a few jewellery supplies. The staff at any bead store or craft shop would be able to help you figure out the parts needed.
  • YouTube can help with some ‘how-to’ – e.g. the correct way to open a jump ring.
  • Some patience.
  • And a realization that if the product is already broken, you can’t make it worse!

How else can you reuse or upcycle?

  • Fix items in your wardrobe that don’t work for you. Hem the pants. Shorten the sleeves. Change the buttons. Fix that hole. Dye it another colour. Paint the metal another tone.
  • Pay a seamstress to alter a garment to fit your shape.
  • Inherited a piece of furniture or jewellery? If it won’t make other family members upset, change it to work for you.
  • Make something new. Break the necklace up and turn it into bracelets. Make a T-shirt quilt out of those old memory filled shirts you aren’t wearing. Turn your great aunts chairs into a shelf.
  • Support artisans that do this for a living. There are many creative individuals melting metals, cutting up blankets, and remaking grandma’s fur coat into something new to love.

How do you practice the 3Rs? Is there a project that you are proud to have upcycled?

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