Buying from storage auctions is a great way to recycle used goods in your community around you. Keeping usable goods out of landfills greatly helps reduce our impact on the environment and the wonderful world we live in. For the environmentally conscious folks among us, you might be wondering what the heck you can do with that stuff you end up with that you just can’t sell. Well…why not upcycle it?!
Upcycling is all about thinking outside of the box…and in the box, and about the box, and what the box can become. The main idea of upcycling is to take an old, unusable object and convert it into something new and exciting. This pastime has become relatively trendy for environmentally conscious and super creative folks all over the world. In fact, many people have even made a living off of selling their upcycled wares. Yes, that’s right—you might just be able to sell that junk you thought you’d have to throw out! That’s pure profit, baby!
Here’s some of the coolest ways to upcycle old junk you’d commonly find in a storage locker. You probably have a lot of this stuff lying in boxes in your garage—why not round up the kids and have an arts and crafts day?
Glass jars and bottles are one of the most versatile and accessible materials for an upcycler to work with. You can use them simply as rustic drinking glasses, display a rainbow assortment on your window sill, or you can get a little more creative and turn them into candle holders or nightlights. Mason jars in particular have become a popular statement piece in the world of upcycling, due to their country kitchen charm. One of the coolest projects I’ve seen is to convert them into liquid soap dispensers. How clever is that? You get bonus points for this project because you’re also upcycling the soap pump. Score!
You might be tempted to throw away old, broken costume jewelry. You can’t salvage any gold or diamonds–heck, you can’t even wear it, so it must be junk. Not so fast! Old jewelry can be used for a number of things, like these classy curtain ties. Old pieces can also be upcycled into new jewelry, key-chains, charms, or even fancy dog collars–which can then be sold to upcycled-loving folks on websites like Etsy. Or, if you want to take the easy (lazy) way out, you can simply sell broken jewelry as parts. Jewelry crafters love old jewelry parts, especially if they can find unique pieces at a good price. Waste not, want not!
Clothing is one of the most common things you’re bound to find in a storage locker….and (un)luckily enough, it’s also one of the hardest things to sell. Unless you find designer or vintage clothing, it’s going to be pretty challenging to sell. So upcycle it! Make bows, doll clothing, or try something even more creative. If you find a piece of clothing or a bed sheet that matches the decor in your kitchen perfectly, why not cut it up and make napkins out of it instead of trying to sell it? Cloth napkins will add a classy, homemade touch to any dinner table. Not only that, they will save you a lot of money in the long run; and if you make a couple of dish towels as well, paper napkins and towels will never be on your grocery list ever again! Being kind to the earth and your wallet….sounds good to me!
Picture frames can be a huge pain to get rid of, especially if they’re ugly, mismatched, and with no painting to go along with them. To most people, this sounds like a lost cause…but to an upcycler, it’s an opportunity. Invest in some primer, a couple of great spray paint colors, and you have a quick and easy way to convert ugly old frames into sets of vibrant matching frames (like these lovelies right here!) that will match any decor. If you’re feeling extra daring, you could take some of that leftover cloth from your napkin project and make an incredibly stylish and functional jewelry holder like the one pictured here. Conversely, you can also screw in a couple of cup hooks on the inside of the frame to make a unique place to hang your keys and hats. Or maybe frame a cork board in your home office! The possibilites are endless. Besides, everything just looks cooler in a frame, doesn’t it?
Toys…you can’t escape them. Whether you’re tripping over them in your living room or pulling them out by the boxes at a storage auction, it’s probably safe to say that many people’s lives are overloaded with them. Now, take a look at that junky old tyrannosaurus-rex toy, and ask yourself, “wouldn’t it be nice to put some flowers in this?” Old toys can be adorable and charming planters, good for indoor use or outdoor use. They make a fun, childish, yet mature addition to any room. Hollow toys are obviously the best way to go; simply drill a large hole in the top, a couple of small holes in the bottom for drainage, and you’ve got yourself the most unique planter in the neighborhood. They’d also make great gifts for a baby shower or a birthday. Cheap, easy, and creative!
Are you getting into it yet? It’s amazing to think about all of the things you can create using what you already have! Stay tuned until next week to see 5-10 on our list of upcycling storage auction junk! Stay crafty!