Earth Issues

Recycling? Stop and try upcycling

 | July 22, 2011
Photo contributed by Linda Bodo

Does your family dread recycling day? Piles and boxes of used plastic, tin and glass have to be cleaned, sorted and hauled over to the recycling centre. Lessen your load with upcycling.

Upcycling is the art of recycling old things into new, better things. Plastic shopping bags become reusable grocery totes, scrap wood becomes a new piece of furniture. The list of things you can make is only limited by your creativity.

If you need a little help consider having a look online at what you can make, or ask Linda Bodo, Edmontonian Do-It-Yourself (DIY) fashionista. She manages to take things you wouldn’t even imagine to be reusable and builds art and furniture from them. With a little paint, fabric, glue and basic tools she teaches people how to divert recyclables and garbage from landfill, and create one-of-a-kind art pieces.

Bodo grew up in a recycling family. Her European parents found value in reusing things as much as they could before recycling them.

“Recycling was just a way of life for them,” Bodo explains of her parents. “They were very conscious of using the absolute most out of everything; they used recycled paper to make gift wrap.”

Bodo is now the author of two DIY upcycling books, Enjoy Life Outside and The Art of Upcycle, as well as a columnist for The Edmontonians Magazine and Source Media Group, and a contributor to Enjoy Gardening magazine. She’s constantly coming up with many great projects for the average person to use as inspiration for gifts, home decor and children’s art projects. From plastic bottle lampshades to double-decker vases and twig chandeliers, she blows Martha Stewart out of the water.

Gaining inspiration from garbage to high-end boutique items, Bodo says she has a never-ending list of projects on the go.

“I’m always in various stages of working on stuff,” she says. “I’m working on a third book . . . and making great things made out of shopping bags, fusing them together to make fabric.”

As consciousness towards the care of our planet and the use of our landfills grows, reusing products even before they become recycled is very important. Bodo says she’s noticed a lot of growth in people getting into upcycling and trying to reuse things that would normally end up in the heaps of garbage.

“The biggest compliment I’ve received is that people are now taking my ideas and tweaking them to their own light,” she says. “I’ve given them inspiration and the ground rules; they’re taking them and making something new.”

Besides the advantage that these types of projects divert materials from landfills, Bodo notes upcycling has other benefits.

“It gives you a huge sense of accomplishment,” she says. “It feels amazing to know that with your own two little hands you can make something usable.”
Bodo is currently on tour to promote The Art of Upcycle. She’ll be making a stop in Kelowna July 17 and 18.

You can find a great number of fun projects to try at