Molly Grace James

A Life Well Lived…



Upcycling for One of a Kind Pieces

Creating astonishingly beautiful pieces from materials many would simply discard is what makes upcycling unique. It takes an artistic eye and the skill to look at a piece of furniture, a plastic shopping bag or pieces of cotton fabric and see a re-imagined and better piece.

Upcycling bulbs

Upcycling has grown in popularity and is credited as being introduced to popular culture by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH in 1994 during an interview he gave about the process of European waste systems.

 “What we need is upcycling- where old products are given more value, not less.”

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling refers to reusing an object in a new way without degrading the material it is made from, as opposed to recycling which generally involves breaking down the original material and making it into something else, using more energy.

reclaim upcycling de castro

Upcycled Clothing:

Designer Orsola de Castro is known as the “Queen of Upcycling,” for her fashion-forward eco apparel. She addressed the issue of growing landfills in China at an EcoChic Design Academy seminar in Hong Kong.

Today’s fashion industry is increasingly overproducing garments and textiles, said de Castro.

 “What is being thrown away into landfill is often beautiful and usable for designers who can approach such materials in a creative way.”


Upcycled Bags and Totes:

Another designer has ventured into eco-designs. Catalina Estrada has created bags and pouches from upcycled plastic. I spotted this vibrant pouch in the store window of a local shop and had to stop. It was made by Catalina Estrada. I loved the pattern, but was excited to see it was made of upcycled plastic.

catalina estrada

Upcycled Furniture and Build Out:

Can often be a DIY project, but Hammer and Hand, based in Portland specializes in  sustainable,local,superbly designed, expertly crafted furniture.

interior redo upcycling

What are your favorite upcycled products?

For more ideas check out: 151 Upcycling Ideas That Will Blow Your Mind.

Are you a Plastic-holic?

Plastic, it is versatile, cheap, and incredibly convenient. Yet despite being designed to throw away, plastic simply doesn’t go away.

According to the Plasticity Forum:

Each year a staggering 280 million tons of plastic is produced globally.

But estimates are that only 10% is recycled each year.

Capturing this waste stream presents a significant and untapped business opportunity. Innovative redesigns of packaging will lead to responsible use and re-use of plastics.  In the meantime, with many companies using vast amounts of plastic, there are several measures to cut-back on personal use.

Alternatives to:

Whole Foods Market phased out the use of plastic bags and is asking consumers to use re-usable bags. Reusable bags come in many fantastic options.  tumi bag

Glass is one of the greenest materials on the planet and is 100% recyclable. Plus you don’t have to worry about chemicals from plastic that can leach into liquids. Plus water from glass tastes crisp and fresh. Check out glass bottles with flavor infusers for fresh, naturally flavored water.


While reusable dishware is preferable, we may not always have that option. If that is the case opting for compostable plates, cups and utensils will mean less plastic in landfills and water streams.


Polystyrene #6 plastics are often non-recyclable and simply end up in landfills. Be smart and bring your own container. Many eco-clamshells are dishwasher and microwavable safe as well.

With so many options, it is easy to start making a difference!

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