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Upcycling: the Art of Re-imagining our Waste

Made from plastic that washed up on the shore.

Granted, it may have all started with Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” back in the 20’s, but today’s trash artists are upping the ante when it comes to artistic upcycling like never before.

Whereas Duchamp’s purpose was more for shock value by rendering a urinal as a work of art, upcycling involves repurposing the item itself as a medium to create a new kind of art form. It rings of an altruistic intention for objects left for the trash heap by changing them into something better and more transcendent than what they were originally.

Upcycling in the modern sense may seem completely novel, but in artistic terms, the thought of creating something from nothing has flourished for centuries. By rendering art out of common everyday trash, artists are revealing something truly beautiful from what we deem useless and functionally broken. Their efforts show a real paradigm shift when it comes to our views of the waste cycle process as well as a growing movement toward a zero waste mentality.


If you google you can see a plethora of creative compositions from upcyclers online: Computer parts turned into sculptures; album covers framed and wall mounted; pieces of old CDs fashioned into jewelry or yard ornaments; old lightbulbs made into suncatchers; vases from wine bottles. The concepts are unending as well as the availability of the medium.

Not only is the upcycling trend lending a growing street cred when it comes to environmental awareness, it’s making a profound statement of the mass consumerism that characterizes our society. The result is inspired art that is both reflective of our changing values as a culture and symbolic of our evolving attitude towards trash as we know it.

As the old adage goes—one man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure. Seems that truism has more validity today than at any time in recent memory.

Today’s upcycler isn’t just imitating life through art. He’s re-imagining it from the ordinary around us.

He’s not just out to shock our senses or even for pure self expression. He’s saying something important about the way we think about life in general—

Beauty, in all forms, is often found in the most mundane.

I think it’s time we opened our eyes and see how true that really is.

 

Photo credit- L. Marie


About the Author


Tom Hill is the CEO of American Waste Control, Tulsa Recycle and Transfer and American Environmental Landfill along with a member of the Tulsa Master Recyclers Association.  Tom’s company recently opened a six million dollar expansion to their recycling facility called Mr. Murph. For the past year, he’s devised and led American Waste’s green recycling initiative, aimed at communicating ways in which Tulsa families and businesses can reduce their waste through recycling to better help the environment. He and his wife, Olivia, have two children and live in Tulsa, OK.


 

 

The Life of a Water Bottle

Are you still using bottled water? This graphic shows what is happening to that bottle when you are done.

via

If you use bottled water please recycle your bottles. Better yet, switch to a reusable water bottle like the options below. (click on the pictures for more info)


Have you made the switch yet?

 


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

 

Norman Expands Recycling Program

The City of Norman has added plastics #3-#7, with some exceptions,  to their recycling program. They will now except plastics #1- Beverage bottles, #2- Milk, shampoo and conditioner bottles, detergent and fabric softener bottles, #3-7-Juice, yogurt, dairy, margarine tubs, prescription vials, clean garden pots or flats. Plastics they don’t except include; Styrofoam, plastics that held toxins like oil, antifreeze, paint thinner, or pesticides, plastic bags, plastic wrap, blister packs or bubble wrap, automotive plastics, household or storage containers, hoses, lawn furniture, or coat hangers.

Plastic #3-#7 will be excepted by Norman’s curbside recycling program and at drop-offs. There are three drop-off areas; Hollywood Shopping Center at McGee and Lindsey, Hobby Lobby at 24th Ave. NW and Main St. on the west side of Hobby Lobby and Browns Shoes, and at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds at 1499 N. Porter.

Other items Norman recycling accepts include; aluminum cans, glass containers, paper, steel cans, tin cans, and cardboard (only at drop-off locations). Norman’s recycling rate is currently 47% which is good but they help adding more plastic will increase the recycling rate even more.


For more information on recycling in Norman visit the City of Norman’s website.

 


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

 

Curbside Recycling Coming to Ada

Last night at the Ada Public Works Authority meeting the city discussed a contract with WCA of Oklahoma, LLC for sanitation collection and disposal services. One of the options for the council members to consider included curbside recycling. The members had several questions about curbside recycling, such as cost for the citizens, cost for the city, and if the city wanted curbside.

Members of the Ada Recycling Coalition attended the meeting and were able to answer several of the council member’s questions. Several people at the meeting spoke up about the need for curbside recycling and how many citizens had voiced an interest in it.

After a long discussion about curbside recycling and the other trash collection issues, the council members voted 5-0 in favor of curbside recycling being included in the new trash contract with WCA of Oklahoma, LLC. After the vote the room broke out in applause.


Ada’s public works director believes curbside recycling should begin in around 90 days. Customers will get one recycling bin and will only have to sort trash from the recyclables. At this time what items will be collected is unknown but that information should be available soon.

We will continue to follow this story and give updates as we receive them.


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

 

Choctaw Nation Recycling Center

The Choctaw Nation opened a recycling center on December 1st, 2010 and it’s still going strong. The center was funded through an Energy Efficieny Community Block Grant from the Department of Energy. The facility employees four full-time staff members and is over 30,000 square feet.

The center is open to businesses and individuals. They accept newspaper, office paper, shredded paper, magazines, catalogs, plastics #1, 2 and 5, aluminum cans, steel cans, cell phones, printer cartridges and cardboard. They also held an e-waste event in January and collected almost 37,000 pounds of electronic waste.


The recycling center is located at 3108 Enterprise Drive in Durant and there are also several drop-off locations in the area, including Idabel, Atoka, Stringtown, Grant, Antlers, and more. To find the complete list click here.

Prior to the center’s opening there was no public facility within the 10-1/2 county area. “It fulfills a need in the Durant area, giving everyone an opportunity to recycle.” said Chief Pyle

The recycling center is located at 3108 Enterprise Drive in Durant, is open to the public for dropping off items 24 hours a day but is only manned from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The other drop-off locations are unmanned and open 24 hours a day.

 

Photo Credits: Choctaw Nation


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

Bring Your Own Bag

We use 14,000,000,000 plastic bags in the US every year. Only about one percent of those bags are recycled. The bags that aren’t recycled end up in landfills, littering our towns and the ocean.
Plastic pollution is becoming a large problem as plastic never biodegrades. It just breaks down into smaller more toxic pieces. The toxic chemicals in these bags are ending up in everything, even our bloodstreams.

Each of us can help fix this problem by taking our own reusable bags for grocery shopping. There are many great options out there; so you are sure to find one that fits your needs. Many stores are starting to offer incentives to help encourage us to take our own bags.

Everywhere from Target to Whole Foods offer discounts. Aldi charges for bags, giving you even more of a reason to remember your bags. Even some locally owned stores are starting to encourage reusable bag use by offering discounts.

An added benefit of using reusable bags is that you don’t have all of those plastic bags and paper bags hanging around. You can only reuse so many of grocery bags!


You can find reusable bags at many local stores and we recommend you check locally first. If you can’t find a bag you like you can find a wide range at on Amazon.com or ReuseIt.com.

Reasons to Bring Your Own Bag

  • It’s better for the environment.
  • It can save you money.
  • They don’t break like plastic and paper bags.
  • They are more attractive.
  • Less to recycle or store.

Want to learn more about the plastic bag problem in a  somewhat humorous way? Check out this video.

What are your favorite reusable bags? Do you have tips that help you remember to bring them to the store? Share in the comments below.