Upcycling goes beyond simple recycling.

February 08, 2016

Finding new ways to use old stuff is not new, but it has taken on a whole new meaning as concerns about our planet continue to get more intense. Those who grew up in The Great Depression did it out of necessity, finding all sorts of uses for things they could not afford to just throw away. We have different concerns now.

Although there are lots of arguments about global warming and climate change, there is no argument that our landfills are getting more and more full as we continue to throw away more and more stuff. As the Baby Boomer Generation ages and starts casting off its “collection,” no doubt more stuff will be tossed.

Yes, what we do at Next Chapter is not entirely about upcycling. But, we have realized how drawn we are to helping customers at our sales find new ways to use the household goods and decorative pieces we offer. We’ve always loved the re-purposing idea, which may be one reason why we have a passion for the household transition sales and see Next Chapter as another option.

For example, at our recent sale in Charleston, SC, we had what we thought were amazing jewels. Our Next Chapter team found a box of sheet music and playbills from the early 20th Century. In particular, we were selling a playbill from 1938 that included advertisements for cigarettes that just made us chuckle. (The Chesterfield ad claimed that we’d all be better off after we smoke our sixth pack of cigarettes.) The playbill was filled with other ads that were equally as interesting and amusing.

Although we could recycle the sheet music and playbills, our Next Chapter team were suggesting to customers that they frame the pieces and pages from them as the works of art and nostalgia that they really are! As we all know, there is a process that paper goes through in recycling that involves chemicals and energy. Although we are all for recycling and agree it needs to be an even greater practice, the idea of preserving interesting pieces like the sheet music and playbills is great for upcycling.

We had another customer at the Next Chapter Charleston sale that gets the concept. She looks for old linens and textiles of all types to re-purpose as decorative pieces. That includes quilts, but also throw “rag rugs” (a Charleston Gullah tradition) and pillows. She had some beautiful pieces.

As you visit our next sale, we at Next Chapter will be offering suggestions for upcycling some of the pieces we offer. Not only is it fun for us, but it ultimately is great for the landfills. As you visit transition sales, look beyond the obvious use and let your imagination run wild.

Our new website coming soon will continue to offer upcycling suggestions in our blog as we are inspired by what we encounter at the Next Chapter sales. No doubt we’ll be sharing what our customers are already doing!