Monday, September 22, 2008


I've just sent off something I made for an up-cycling swap, I won't say what it was because it's a secret swap. (Plus I forgot to take photos, I'll get some when I'm outed.)

Up-cycling is an interesting concept, it's basically using recycled materials to make something else, so giving it more life. It's a cool new name, but really a very old concept. Think of cupboards and chairs made out of kerosene tins, curtains and clothes made from flour bags, sandals made from old tyres. So what's happening is that many people are now dabbling or choosing to do something that in the past was normal, a necessity.

So do we need to? Well really, no. In spite of various doomsayers the world isn't about to end. In fact, if anything we live in a Golden age. Our children and ourselves are healthy, we have more than enough resources to live, we have freedom to do pretty much anything we want.

Even environmentally we can't actually damage the planet too much. We can make it very uncomfortable for ourselves and other large mammals, but we're honestly not that important. It's a tiny fraction of what makes the biosystem and the planet has dealt with much worse than we can dish out. But call me selfish, I think keeping things comfortable for ourselves is pretty important, I care more about people than I do about beetles.

So back to the up-cycling, do we need to?

I choose to for two reasons. Firstly, even if the bucket is much larger than we may think, it does have a bottom. There's something a bit embarrassing about taking more than our fair share, which is what is happening at the moment. So it may not be dooming the environment, but I would rather work for equality with other people and at least nod to the other life forms sharing living space with us.

Secondly, creativity is a skill like any other that needs to be practiced. It is too easy to passively take other people's ideas, rather than solve our own problems. And creativity is so important in so many areas. From the intensely personal, thinking of things to do with our toddlers, to the largest and most abstract - how do we make the world a fairer place?

So going through my linen closet and using some of it to make something new is a great way to practice my creativity. Giving the results to someone else is a wonderful bonus.

No comments: