Upcycling 101: What is upcycling?

Sean Armstrong
Photography Editor

No, that is not a typo. Upcycling is a real thing. What is it? Upcycling is an economical, fun, and creative way to convert old, seemingly useless things into functional contraptions. You may ask, “Well, Sean, I would love to be an ‘upcycler’ but I don’t know where to find things to upcycle.” Lucky for you, this first edition of “Upcycling 101” will be devoted to finding the perfect upcycling project based on individual skill level.


If you are a “newbie” at this whole upcycling idea, then pay close attention to this section. For a first project, I suggest something small. Get on the internet, and do some good, old-fashioned research. You’d be surprised at the hundreds of different upcycling ideas that can be found. As an example, the first website that popped up on Google when I searched “beginner upcycling” gave ten different examples of projects that could be completed in a matter of minutes. After completing a few of these novice projects, you’ll be ready to tackle something a little more challenging.


If you’ve done a few small projects in the past, and feel comfortable trying something more difficult, then listen up. The best way to test your skills is by changing or tweaking the upcycling projects found on the internet. Adding more steps or finding different ways to do a project will hone in your creative skills. At this stage of upcycling skill, you should be out looking for projects to upcycle. Antique stores, garage sales, and flea markets are full of trinkets that are just waiting to be repurposed into upcycled gems. With a few of these more complex projects under your belt, it’s time to try something even harder.


At this point, you’re a beast. You’ve been tearing through projects like a vicious upcycling monster. You’re ready to do projects that test your creativity and skill. I believe to be considered an expert upcycler, one should be able to see a rusted hunk of metal lying around and not only see the potential it has, but also have the skill to be able to transform it into a beautiful piece of art. Expert upcyclers are the ones looking through dumpsters and trash heaps for that perfect piece of whatever for a great project. If you’re at this level, you should be able to upcycle almost anything using almost all prior knowledge.

Keep a lookout for all segments of Upcycling 101 this semester in the Crowder Sentry and online at crowdersentry.com. We will cover the steps and procedures of a different project every two weeks. Thanks for reading, and as always, don’t trash it, upcycle it.