Tree-hugging Tuesday ’s Word of the Day: Upcycle

I keep seeing this word “upcycle” everywhere.  MY everywhere, that is.  I guess it would depend on where you go online whether you have seen it or not.  Just this morning at etsy, I typed in upcycle and used the “all items” option.  91,299 returns.  WOW.  The first item is a blue upcycled wine bottle.  You should check it out.  How do they do that?


By the time I could talk about this one item and went back to etsy, the count was 91,237.  Evidently some folks out there are taking this whole green, tree-hugging, frugal living, repurposing thing kinda seriously.  And are making a living at it.  Hey, there’s another word that keeps popping up in my surfing: repurpose. Spellcheck doesn’t think it’s a word, but I assure you it is. At etsy I found everything from  jewelry to notebooks to well…crap.  But hey, one (wo)man’s crap is another’s cool upcycled, recycled what-not! Repurpose hasn’t caught on like upcycle I guess – there were only 38,382 listings.

But no matter what you call re-using things, it’s not a new concept.  I think my BonDon (paternal grandmother) used everything she owned at least 3 times for 3 different purposes before letting go of it.  Yet, she was not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination.  Everything had a place and her house was neat and tidy and not cluttered.  She just didn’t buy a lot of …well, crap. She was probably the most frugal person I have ever known and was green before it had a name.  I know for a fact she wore dresses she had worn for 30 years.  I have pictures to prove it.  Waste not, want not.  And, she had only clothes she wore and her closet was not stuffed full.  Everything hung neatly by item and then in the bottom was a line of maybe 4-5 pairs of shoes.  My BonDon had no idea what was in fashion.  I NEVER saw a fashion magazine in her possession.  She got Progressive Farmer, Better Homes and Gardens and a church issued bulletin.  So there was no magazine refuse to deal with.  When she was finished with these magazines, she took them to the hospital or dr office to share. When her clothes wore out and I do mean WORE out, she cut them up for quilts for her and Granddad to piece during the winter when he wasn’t on a tractor and doll clothes fabric for me and my cousin to sew.  Now don’t get me wrong, she was also not stingy.  She would buy for us, things we needed and certainly things we only wanted.  She could go into her kitchen and in an hour put on a meal to feed whom ever was there even though it was 25 miles to the grocery store and there is no telling when the last time she had been.  She wasn’t like me and run by the grocery at least 4 times a week.  Nope, not necessary.


I have been told many times I am a lot like her.  Not enough.  Not told enough and not enough like her.  This picture is of my dad and her.  Man, I miss both of them.

The one thing I remember her  really fussing at me about was wasting water.  Oh, that would get her going quick.  See she lived in rural Throckmorton County Texas and when it didn’t rain, they didn’t have water.  And it didn’t rain much.  I can remember her and Granddad buying water when we were there because we wanted things like baths every day and wanted more than 2 inches of water in the tub.  I know it must have hurt her deep down when we would run a tub of water to soak in.  But dang it was HOT there!  And I don’t mean they bought jugs of water.  A water truck came and filled up the tank that stood next to the house and held water for household use that was pumped from a tank (pond) by a wind mill.   And they had a cistern but honestly, I am not sure how it all worked together.  I know I never did without water when I was there but I am pretty sure there were days she didn’t use a drop.  What kills me is that I didn’t ask her more.  More about her life and how she managed.  Because I am telling you, I don’t think I could have. The longest I have gone without “facilities” is about 3 days.  That was about 2 days longer than my mental limit.

My mom’s family was city-folk.  Enough of everything and an abundance of most. New was a big deal.  I am a mixture of the two philosophies I think.  There have been times I had to be more frugal so I know I can do it.  And it’s not so much about saving money as it is not being wasteful.

So I am not upcycling anything today but I am recycling several bags of clothes.  We are making a trip to the orthodontist and are swinging by Goodwill and dropping off.  It is just the beginning.  This will be a long and difficult task but I would really, really like keep what I need in the way of clothing and shoes and such and donate the rest.  There is no need in having this much stuff. NO need at all.

My next research project is to look into FreeCycle.  I think I will tell you about it next Tuesday.  I have a friend that might just be able to clue me in.  Maybe over a cup of coffee.  Nan, you there?

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What a great post! So true-our grandparents had it down and somehow we need to relearn, with fancier terminology, what they already knew and practiced. Freecycle is pretty cool-and it feels amazing to pass along something you have used to someone else who can use and enjoy it. I am loving the blue, upcycled, wine bottle…..


This is a great post, Susan, and something I’ve really been thinking about lately. I think we live in a time of excess, that’s for sure. I mean, just look at all the choices for salad dressing in the grocery store?!?! Do we REALLY need 150 different choices? I’m trying more and more to even keep my food preparation to the minimum, basic, fresh, and yummy ingredients.

Glad to hear you are making a trip to Goodwill and wish more people would follow that lead!

Terrific post! I love that you shared this great story of your grandmother. She is definitely an inspiration!

I LOVE Freecycle!!!! Instead of throwing something in the trash, you offer it to the group. When I get in a purging mood I just pile up the bags on my porch. Offer it on Freecycle…. and the lucky person gets to pick it up. I usually try to pick someone who sounds as if they really are in need of it instead of just wanting it to have. There are moochers on there so I tend to avoid giving things to them over and over. I think you would enjoy Freecycle!

LOVE the article Susan! She looks so proud and stoic in her photo. What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing :)

Awesome stories here Susan! And to be a combination of both family traits is ideal.