Don’t Recycle That! 5 Cool DIY Upcycling Websites

Ginny Figlar Colón by Ginny Figlar Colón | November 26th, 2010 | 8 Comments
topic: Green Living

I’ve always been a huge recycler, even fishing through other people’s trashcans at work as a kind of self-proclaimed recycling police.

But you won’t find me digging in the trash anymore. Instead, I am bin-diving into the recyclables on an almost-daily basis — hunting for a new toy, utensil holder, coloring book, snack dispenser or anything else my little family and I might need.

I’m all about reusing before recycling these days.

Upcycling” — the process of turning otherwise wasted objects into something of greater value — is nothing new. But, like a new mom who suddenly becomes hyper-aware of toxins in our food, air and clothing (been there), my living-with-less reality right now has reminded me that I can use a lot of things that normally land in the recycling bin.

If you, too, are in an upcycling state of mind, or just looking for some unique handmade gift ideas, here are five great websites that can help you go from recycling bin to treasure trove.

1. Made by Joel

This is my go-to site for upcycled toys, such as a snack dispenser, kite or marble run made from cereal boxes or these sweet fabric nesting dolls. Joel graciously provides free templates and instructions for those of us who wish we were more artistic.

2.   UpCycleIt

Ever thought of using paper towel or toilet paper tubes to store extension cords? UpCycleIt, the blog dedicated to turning trash into treasure, has.

3.   Daily Danny

This is the blog of green-living expert Danny Seo, who has written a book called Upcycling, due out next fall. How cool is that Tennis Ball Swing?!

4.   Instructables

User-submitted homemade gift ideas complete with how-tos — from the bizarre to super-practical, like this e-reader case made from a hardcover book.

5.   Crafting a Green World

DIY for environmentalists, including a few clever ideas for repurposing coffee cans.

Photo credit: Joel Henriques, Made by Joel


  1. I’m one of the contributors to Unconsumption — — and I often look at the sites you mention.

    Great list, Ginny!

  2. Oooh… I need to add unconsumption to my go-to list! Great site! Thanks!

    ginny | November 29th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. Every 1 ton of plastic recycled can save amount of water that can be used by 1 person for 2 months or almost 1800 pounds of oil or 1 year of 2 people’s energy requirement. Over it, recycling plastic saves money this optimizing resources as well as consumer surpluses.

    Richard | December 9th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. This article makes me so happy! Its great to see people showing interest in creating items with used ones! I love that kind of thing, I find all kinds cool stuff on ecofreek. I found an old school desk and turned it into a planter for herbs!

    Nicole | February 26th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  5. Hello, thank you for the interesting link, I think you can find some very interesting upcycling ideas on our website : !
    Have a nice day !
    Recyclart Team :)

    Neokentin | May 26th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  6. I haven’t understood well the difference between these two words before. But I agree with you! Frist we should think what we can do with something what we would normally throw away, then after reusing throw it away – but into the right container!

    dekoprojects | May 14th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  7. I like your blog a lot. Great ideas for upcycling. Upcycling is a passion of mine. I feel that we have the capability to make better things for our lives by upcycling. I am not a cookie cutter type person so I do not create cookie cutter items for my life. I think the general masses beleive that store bought is better when clearly homemade is superior. I say this because I make functional art that is upcycled. The upside is that it is custome made, and designed for myself or someone else. I started as an artist painting on glass after a cancer diagnosis at a young age of 33. It was not long befor I fell in love with dumpster diving and finding creative uses for otherwise landfill. I have decorated my house using found objects, garage and resale shop finds and recycling items but you would never guess it. I hope you get a chance to look at my site…The chandeleire made from pop and water bottles, brass wire and beads is my favorite. Keep up the good work!

    meg shea | February 24th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  8. Looking for handmade jewelry that evokes charm and fond memories? Here you can find upcycled jewelry made with vintage found objects that tell a story.

    I’ve been mentioned on the following blogs and sites:,, and

    I sold a piece featuring Mary, Queen of Scots to Lesley Smith, former TV personality on “Most Haunted” and curator of Tutbury castle.

    If interested, my website is at

    Thank you!

    Suzanna McMahan | February 26th, 2014 | Comment Permalink

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