Sam Judd

Comment on the environment from nzherald.co.nz columnist Sam Judd

Sam Judd: The wonderful world of upcycling

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This self-watering herb planter was made out of an old wine bottle. Photo / Chris Cochrane
This self-watering herb planter was made out of an old wine bottle. Photo / Chris Cochrane

I have long suspected that recycling is a farce. It was created by waste producers in response to criticism as an excuse to consume more - "don't worry - it's recyclable."

A new study has proven that the option to recycle increases resource consumption.

Now I am not saying don't do it. It is still better than putting rubbish into a hole in the ground, but most recycled materials (plastic in particular) are down-graded during reprocessing and become something of far lesser value.

Better still, is turning your waste materials into something more valuable: Welcome to the wonderful world of "upcycling."

This is where people have literally been turning trash into treasure.

If you take a walk down Osborne Street in Newmarket, you will discover a new breed of surf and skate fashion at a place called Sitka. The entire shop is decked out with rubbish that the owners pillaged from demolition yards and inorganic collection days.

Salvaged rubbish is used to also green up the space (see the related gallery) and somehow, knowing that all the old treasures in the shop have already had a history actually has a comforting effect.

Some of the products for sale here are particularly impressive too.

Those of us that refuse to wear shoes most of the time go through jandals very quickly. Many times have I worn them through until my heels scrape on the pavement.

Ben Galloway - the son of a legendary cobbler in Raglan - makes shoes out of used conveyor belts and offcuts of canvas, clothes and leather. The results are incredibly sturdy, comfortable and also pleasing to the eye.

Much of the rubbish we discard can be upcycled - you probably just didn't know it.

* Like herbs for cooking but often forget to water them causing a thirsty death? With a bit of practice and a couple of tools, you can make a wonderful self-watering planter out of glass bottles (as per the main image on this article).

* Ever paid big money for treated timber to make a retainer in the garden? This can be done with old tyres which otherwise cost money to dispose (the image in the gallery is of the garden at the Sustainable Coastlines headquarters).

* I especially like the shot of the lady proudly holding her cat next to the toucan tyre planter here

* My partner loves lights (we'll call it a mild obsession) - especially if you can make them for free.

If you want to learn how to bring rubbish to life and meet some of our team from Sustainable Coastlines, we are running free 'Upcycling" workshops on Sunday 20th May at Wynyard Quarter (just opposite the Viaduct Events Centre). Click here to find out more or register.

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