I am sharing a wonderful mix of upcycling ideas to inspire you today, with a bit of a book review of Retrash – a high quality, soft cover coffee table book, showcasing inspirational ideas on reusing second hand materials, through upcycling. I met the author Nathan Devine, at a talk with the inspiring Terracycle at Google headquarters. A book like this is the perfect way to gain ideas for your own projects, because you can flick through and seek inspiration and ideas, without it needing too much energy or concentration. I love the mix of art, fashion and interiors in the book. It is easy to find what you are looking for and beautifully put together.
The word Upcycle is defined as “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” This fantastic easy to read book, with stunning and inspirational images, really takes that concept and celebrates it. Published in New York in late 2014, Retrash is a book that inspires creativity and imagination through stories of upcycling, recycling and living sustainably. The book itself even follows these principles, being printed on 100% recycled paper, and features work from people living in Australia, Germany, United States, Spain, United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, France, Romania, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, Netherlands, India, Portugal, New Zealand, Italy, Argentina, Belgium and Hong Kong.
Retrash is aiming to inspire and challenge people globally to think about how we can reuse waste in creative and innovative ways and promote the growing movement of people across the globe that are reducing landfill by upcycling, repurposing and reusing salvaged materials. Post consumer waste contributes 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. By showcasing the best of the upcycling movement, Retrash hopes to educate and inspire the world to rethink what they currently view as being waste. In doing this we can reduce waste globally by reusing, repurposing and upcycling waste, as well as making better purchasing decisions on new materials and products.
Promoting the upcycling movement is one of the main objectives of the book and it does this very well with beautiful images showing a snapshot of the growing movement of artists and creative thinkers using materials which are considered waste in our society. To make this book accessible to as many people as possible, the team reverse eengineered the book with the end goal in mind. By capping the total number of contributions in the book to just over 80, and selecting appropriate recycled paper stock, they were able to keep the total combined weight to under 500 grams so they can offer shipping at a fixed rate, anywhere in the world.
In 2009, Retrash signed a sponsorship agreement with two charities – FINCA and the Helen Bamber Foundation. The agreement is that for every copy of Retrash sold, $1 will be donated to each charity. Nathan Devine, founder of Retrash, formed these agreements as part of a personal life mission to help others. FINCA.org provides financial services to the world’s lowest–income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living. Actress and activist Natalie Portman is the FINCA Ambassador of Hope. HelenBamber.org is a human rights organisation that helps those who have experienced torture, trafficking and other forms of cruelty. Actress and activist Emma Thompson is the chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation.
Nathan has been diverting waste from landfill for over 30 years, he enjoys seeking out waste materials to create structures like garden sheds, cubby houses for his children and suitcase speakers to name a few. His passion for working with second hand materials started from a young age working in the family business which was mowing lawns and rubbish removal. “We were at the tip on a fairly regular basis as kids and I was always excited by what treasures I might find to take home. One time when we were at the tip, I noticed half a dozen small black and white TVs that my dad let me take home to clean up and sell. It was such an empowering feeling to be able to create my own pocket money from something that had been thrown away. That event really changed my perspective on rubbish and the value that it has to different people.”
Nathan is passionate about reducing waste globally by inspiring others to rethink what we throw away. His book is a recycled piece of art itself and has been endorsed by the largest handmade market in the world, Etsy. It has been featured in the New York Times, Connect 4 Climate and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). If you love to be inspired I highly recommend you grab a copy of this unique and important book to place on your coffee table, and who knows, maybe you can upcycle yourself a coffee table to go with it.
Which upcycle do you love the most here?
(update of a post originally published 2014)