Upcycle Me

I read a blog post the other day (here) that blew my mind. In it, the blogger, Sophie, give a couple of examples of objects she has ‘upcycled’. Upcycling, according to Wikipedia, is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new products or products of better quality. I really like the thought of this, but ever since I read the blog I’ve wondered, how can I make this a reality in my life.

I asked my wife on our ride home from our jobs what she thought of upcycling.  She thought it would be something neat to try, but that we needed to be careful to only create things that had a use or that looked amazing.  We didn’t want to just have a house full of upcycled junk.  This would mostly defeat the purpose of upcycling in the first place.

She also reminded me of the barbeque that is at my parent’s cottage on Lake Manitoba.  My grandpa, the previous owner of the cottage, had joined the barbeque to an old lawnmower.  This gave it a base that also happened to have wheels making it easy to move.

Looks Cool + Functionality = Worthwhile Upcycling Project.

Another example I can think of is a set of garden lights that my sister-in-law made for us.  They are housed in old, glass jars and have a solar light in the middle.  I pretty sure she got the idea from Pinterest. The look great, serve a purpose and prevented one more glass jar from going to the dump or needing to be processed in a recycling plant.

When I was in elementary school, they pounded the ‘3 R’s’ into my brain on a regular basis.  They are:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Though there are three ‘R’s’, the majority of time was spend on recycling and very little was spent on reusing and reducing.  Maybe this was because our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents never thought they would need to teach reusing.  Think about it.  How much old stuff  was repurposed for another use?  I think we have lost this in modern society.  We have been told that it is easier to throw our old stuff away and buy something new than to repair or repurpose it.   And it is.  I just wonder what happens to all the garbage I have thrown out that could have been reused. How much of it is in the landfill here in Regina, SK?  How much has polluted the streets of the city of live in?  How much has made its way into the streams and rivers of the natural environment I love?

So… what can I make? Where do I start? I’m not especially handy. I’m also not a craft-making type of person. Handiness and craftiness would make me an excellent upcycler, but since I don’t have either of those skills in any abundance, I will rely on my creativity and passion for making the world just a little bit better. I think my plan is to take a second glance at everything I throw out. Maybe that egg-carton could have been used to, oh I don’t know, grow some indoor plants. Wait a second… I think I just did something there. See? It’s not that hard.  If I happen to come across a worthwhile upcycling project, I’ll be sure to take some pictures and post what I have done.

Dieting Sucks

“I went on a diet, swore off drinking and heavy eating, and in fourteen days I lost two weeks.”

– Joe E. Lewis

Corporations, doctor’s, fitness trainers, and scientists advertise products and programs that, they say, will change our lives forever. In just “4 short weeks” or “with just minutes a day”, they will be able to take our fat bodies and turn them into something majestic. These claims are attractive because they are quick, easy, and seemingly painless. In my opinion, dieting sucks. Diets seem to all suggest that you do activity ‘x’ for ‘y’ number of days and then you will be healthy. Very few of them advise how to live after the diet is over and do very little to treat the reasons why a person may have become obese in the first place.

I was obese because I didn’t understand food and because I had a very negative self-image. Diets have the potential to teach you something about food like how many grams of carbs a healthy diet requires or what an appropriate portion size is, but it is the fact that they are making such rapid changes to have you live that concerns me. Every time I’ve dieted, I’ve craved the foods that I have cut out and would eventually crack and binge on them. This would lead to an eventual meltdown of the entire diet and I would usually end up heavier then when I had started.

What I think makes more sense is to make small, subtle changes that you are OK maintaining for the rest of your life. Making sustainable changes will lead to an overall healthier lifestyle and overtime can lead to massive weightloss that STAYS OFF. When changes do start to occur (and they will… it took one month of simply walking for me to see some), you begin to believe that you might actually succeed at losing weight. Once your mind is in, you’re set. I have seen no diet do what healthy living has done for me. I have been slowly losing weight over the past four years and I know that it will never come back. Diets suck because they are not sustainable. So, lose the diet, decide to make some small changes and cut the string of that yo-yo life you’ve been living.

Happy Weightloss!!