I imagine you have heard of recycling, but what is upcycling? It's a trendy word for what people have been doing for centuries - making use of what they have rather than throwing something away and buying a new one. The fashion for buying new things rather than repairing or reusing old ones is a new trend and only really took off in the last 20 years or so. It's part of the reason for the environmental crisis - the burden that constantly producing new stuff places on the earth is extremely high. That's why I started making bags from secondhand fabric - the textile industry is the second most polluting industry on earth.
Upcycling is different to restoration. When you restore something, you try and get it as close to the original as possible. Upcycling is using old things that might have been otherwise thrown away, and doing something to them to give them a new lease of life. It could be using that old wood you have laying around in the garden to make a new table. It could be painting a chest of drawers that you don't like anymore. Or maybe a lamp made out of an old guitar. If you've ever made a pair of binoculars out of toilet roll, then congratulations - you're an upcycler!
The world really is your oyster when it comes to upcycling. The thing I love most about it is a) there are NO rules and b) anyone can do it. So if you have something lying around and you have been thinking about giving it a makeover, why not give it a try? There are plenty of resources out there to get you started with upcycling.
I was originally inspired by TV shows such as Money For Nothing (particularly the guy who makes bags out of stuff like old sacks!) and The Repair Shop. Just remember - these people are definitely experts, but everyone starts somewhere!