New beginnings are hard. Although nothing has really changed between December 31 and January 1, this new year has already had it’s ups and downs. One minute is great and just as I start skipping along whistling my favorite tune someone runs into me with scalding hot coffee, metaphorically. My job has been a little rocky with the need to constantly be learning something new, my documentary has definitely run into some problems and I’m generally just tired of always worrying that something else is going to go terribly wrong.
But you know what gets me through it? The idea that something ordinary, discarded, unwanted, even ugly can change into something beautiful or useful or both. We see it all the time in nature with butterflies, the different seasons where trees are losing their leaves, go to sleep and then wake up refreshed and flourishing, or a seed germinating to make a beautiful flower or something yummy to eat.
I think that’s why I find upcycling to be such a fascinating thing for me. I guess because if an ol’ pop bottle can have a new beginning as something as beautiful as this hummingbird feeder then maybe someday I, someone ordinary, unfinished, inadequate, will find my purpose that brings fulfillment in my life and makes me feel useful.
(At the beginning of this post, I was feeling quite down, pessimistic, confused and frustrated, but I still felt hopeful as I wrote the rest of this post. Because like I said, if someone can take care of a discarded pop bottle, then surely I will find a purpose too. It has been on my mind until this past Sunday when I randomly went to a new church service and they played this song. It validated the hope I still felt as finished this post.)
Take this orange fruit netting. Do you see a use outside it’s original purpose of holding these oranges? Although it’s not as bad as plastic bags that blow away so freely, this orange fruit bag net does still cause problems for wildlife. They might try to eat it or get tangled up in it.
Oranges are super easy for me to grab on the way to work, so I tend to buy a lot, but I have never been comfortable with throwing these nets away. Another problem, we don’t have a dish washer and sometimes even with the scratchier sponge, which we don’t always have anyway because we go through them so fast. We just can’t get our pans clean.
I spent like 10 minutes trying to get that clean and it wasn’t even budging. Then I saw an empty net just sitting there and I grabbed it out of desperation. It worked like a charm. It still took a few minutes, but I haven’t seen it that clean in months.
Before, that little net had a very temporary use, but now it has a new beginning that will extend its use many times over.
What about these boxes?
Obviously someone didn’t see enough use in them to throw them in the recycling bin, not even 20 feet from that dumpster. Other than metal, cardboard is one of the best recycling markets. Recycling would give it a new life and that could help a local business owner striving to make the city cleaner, but nope, that particular person didn’t even see enough potential to take the time to throw it in the bin. What do you think? Do you see a new beginning for it?
I found this upcycled project using diaper boxes, but these projects could have easily been used. I thought it was the cutest thing and if you’re interested in making it, check out this post.
What about light bulbs. Light bulbs are a pretty practical thing and they last for quite some time, but a new beginning could extend their life more. How can you say no to these cuties???
I think my favorite thing to give new beginnings to are plastic bags. America use 150 billion plastic bags, which equals 150 million gallons of gas just blowing around our planet or wasting away in the landfills.
They really are the most impractical things ever invented. They cause problems for everyone. For the grocer that charges you extra to compensate for their cost, you, as they fill every nook and cranny in your house until you remember to throw them out or take them back to the store to be recycled, the recycler because they clog machines and are extremely expensive to recycle, and the environment as they choke animals and get stuck on every tree. The only exception is the industry that makes a killing off destroying the environment. Occasionally, I will bring some home because I need something to put the used cat litter in, but other than that I try not to use them.
Normally, when I see plastic bags I see a nuisance and beyond that a careless action that led to them being blown in the wind or stuck in a tree. But now instead of being annoyed, I pick them up, dust them off and take them home because even if someone else doesn’t care, I do. I see a new beginning for them.
Although many people tried to teach me to crochet over the years, it wasn’t until my grandmother gave me this beautiful bag made from crocheted plastic bags that I finally got the motivation to keep trying until I got it.
It is extremely sturdy and I have since learned to adapt the use of plarn for other projects and sometimes add colored yarn to add a little extra texture and color to them.
Here are some of my favorites:
You can watch this video to learn how to make plarn
Change is hard, but as I look back on my life, I can see when things ended it’s because something great was about to start. And when I get down, I just binge on pinning upcycling projects and it just makes me feel so much better! I hope you found encouragement in this post. I wrote as part of a collaborative post, so if you interested, click on the pictures below to see what my group members wrote about.