Candle advent wreaths are beautifully romantic. You can upcycle one for a fraction of the price of buying a new one. I have found the bases for all of the ones I’ve made at charity shops. But if you can’t find one then you can always use a large plate or platter and four candle holders as a base. Just secure the candle holders to the base with tic-tac.

candle wreath retroThis beautiful upcycled wreath on the left has large decor so it didn’t take too long to make. The base is a vintage wire advent wreath frame. The fabric flowers are from an old twinkle light string that didn’t work and the rest of the decor, baubles etc. are all bought at charity shops. I made sure to only use plastic and fabric so that it could be easily stored and reused for years to come. I fastened everything to the base with wire which I bought at my local garden market.

Do you have a collection of statues that don’t go together, tired of your living room or just want to have some creative fun? Buy some spray paint and gather your statues.

Charity shops are full of ugly old statues that no one wants and sadly many of them end up in landfills. I went out, bought lots of 90s black statues and home made porcelain at charity shops, a few spray cans and went outside. Spray paint is toxic and messy, so you do not want to do this inside your home. If you have a garage you could open the door and do it there, but be sure you are in a well ventilated area and that all ground is covered. I use old news papers under and do it outside. Just follow the directions on the spray can and go wild. Please have a look at the ones I made for inspiration. The ones below I first sprayed evenly in one colour and let dry. Then I took another colour and sprayed close up in one spot until the paint started dripping.

Upcycled flower pot
This was an ugly black 90s flower pot
Upcycled statue of Jesus
Jesus had been made at a porcelain class

Upcycling vs recycling

Upcycling (or creative reuse) is not the same as recycling (downcycling). So what is upcycling? To upcycle is to transform waste material into products that are used. Recycling takes an item and brakes it down, extracting useful materials from it and creating something from scratch. By upcycling you prevent wasting useful materials by making use of existing ones, reducing consumption of new raw material. This results in reduction of energy used, air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Thereby making the world cleaner and healthier.
The process of upcycling takes a lot less energy and is much more environmentally friendly than downcycling. Upcycling in short, gives items more value, whereas recycling breaks things down and then makes new things of lesser value. A simple example is a newspaper. You can upcycle a newspaper into wrapping paper, thereby avoiding having to buy wrapping paper, reducing the demand for it which should lead to less being made. You could also recycle the paper which means shipping it to a recycling station and then making new paper or cardboard from it. Recycling takes energy, time and money whereas upcycling saves you all those things. Another example is secondhand clothing which can easily be reused, sometimes by fixing or altering slightly.

Upcycling or being thrifty

People in developing countries have effectively been upcycling for years, using old packaging and clothing in new ways, although more out of need than for the environment. But upcycling is now taking off in other countries, reflecting an increased interest in eco-friendly and locally sourced products.

The key to upcycling

The key thing is to see everything you don’t use, need or have to throw away as valuable material that can be put to use in some way. And if you don’t need it, try to find someone who does. There are plenty of local Facebook groups where you can advertise raw materials to give away. Let your imagination run wild and always stop to think before you throw anything away.