How to guide


> Upcycle
Turn waste into art by re-using and upcycling


Here’s our new mantra: It’s not rubbish ’til you put it in the bin!

“Err, pardon?” we hear you say.

What we’re saying is that instead of binning that thing you’ve got in your hand, think about how you could re-use or upcycle it.

Re-using or upcycling stops things from going to landfill where they can pollute our environment and create greenhouse gases. Re-using or upcycling also means you’ll be saving the energy and resources that would be used to dispose of that item.

And finally, making something useful out of old items saves you buying something new, and that’s fantastic because it means you’ll have more money for the more expensive olives or that bigger box of chockies. So next time you stroll towards the bin, think about whether that thing in your hand could be used for something new and you’ll not only help our environment, but could save yourself some money too!

How To Do It


Upcycling is taking an old item and giving it a new purpose; finding an item no longer in use that will likely be thrown away and giving it a new life. For example:

  • Turn an old bookshelf into a garden bed
  • Join a row of old chairs to make a bench seat
  • Weave old plastic bags into a new bag
  • Use a milk carton to make a flower pot
  • Create a floor or door mat from fabric scraps
  • Make a vertical garden
  • Take some old clothes, cut them up and sew them together to make something new, like new clothes, cushion covers, badges or kids toys

Remember, you are only limited by your imagination!

Whole school tip

Invite all classes to contribute materials for upcycling projects in the garden. Useful materials could be old pallets, wheelbarrows, broken rakes, old bicycles and bike parts, and bits of junk metal and wood.

What’s Our Impact?

Use the guide below to work out your impact by measuring the number of bins you would have filled with your waste.

Three pieces of waste a day is equal to 30kg of waste per year. Approximately 1kg of plastic has a 6kg CO2e carbon footprint. What does that mean?

  • 30kg fills a 240L wheelie bin or equals 180 CO2e (CO2 equivalent) kg a year
  • 22kg fills a shopping trolley (175L) or 132 CO2e kg a year
  • 75kg fills a shopping basket (30L) or 22.5 CO2e kg per year

How much waste did your class capture in its nest? What was your saving?


Fast Facts

Upcycling is not a new concept. Some of the best examples of modern day upcycling come from the 1930’s-40’s.

Clothing and household textiles make up almost 5% of all garbage in landfills.

The EPA estimates that 75% of solid waste is recyclable, yet only 30% is actually recycled.