Archive for the ‘Upcycling’ Category


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holy shit, people. I just learned via inhabitat that Iris Industries has created a new “sustainable composite” — a textile created from heat pressed recycled denim and eco-friendly resin. The end result: a lightweight, hard substance that can be used, among other ways, to create furniture, counter tops, wall paneling and jewelry. Did you get that? Counter tops from your old jeans? I want to redo the kitchen immediately.

Eco Brooklyn

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eco Brooklyn Inc. is a contracting, landscape and design firm run by Gennaro Brooks-Church, who relies nearly exclusively on reclaimed materials and coined the phrase “Build it Forward.” In the corporate world, “Live the Brand” is a phrase you hear a lot. Brooks-Church embodies the concept. He and his family live in an ever-improving green show house implementing and testing creative ways to eliminate waste (grey water systems), breath second and third lives into discarded building materials (beautiful reclaimed wood floors, an old fire escape fashioned into stairs), and create a space connected to the neighborhood and local environment (a natural pool). A while back, I took a tour of this whimsical space complete with a roof garden and bee hives, a project by


Photo via

Ever since, I have followed the company Facebook page, where I recently learned they have stocked their pond with local fish and frogs. Track new projects undertaken by Brooks-Church and his team of interns via social media, or schedule a tour and head over to Gowanus to check it out for yourself.

Soup, Salad, Tacos, Slaw

Monday, April 15, 2013

World renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson has a blog and you should read it. In a recent post entitled “By the Numbers: Food Waste” he shares key stats on our wasteful nation as well as four great recipes for using up leftovers.

via Samuelsson's "Food for Thought" section of his website.

via Samuelsson’s Food for Thought blog section of his website

In addition to advocating freezing, composting, cooking with wine and saving bread for various recipes, Samuelsson imparts one recipe each for a delicious-sounding soup, salad, slaw and taco. I love this combination of recipe ideas as a mantra for anyone with a bit left over after a meal—especially tacos. I often make soups or salads out of surplus dinner party fare, but tacos just make leftovers sound more fun!

The whole post reminds me of my grandmother who, borrowing from the tradition of Samuelsson‘s home of Sweden, would occasionally declare  a smorgasbord lunch.  She would empty out the fridge and put out little bits of this and that, some served cold and some served hot, left over from the amazing array of gourmet offerings created in her farm kitchen each week.


Landfill Harmonic

Sunday, April 14, 2013

“The world sends us garbage. We send back music.”

If you haven’t already, watch this video. Then head over to Kickstarter to ensure this trashtastic documentary is widely released.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do The Green Thing has a fantastic Facebook page where they routinely post such wonderful finds as this array of pockets upcyled as wall-mounted storage.

via Do the Green Thing

via Do the Green Thing

Having just moved apartments and hemorrhaged my savings into a range of unforeseen costs and untold hours of unregulated Etsy surfing, I find this DIY project utterly charming. It reminds me of that kids book, Katy No-Pocket written by Emmy Payne and  illustrated by the same dude who drew Curious George. Did you have that one growing up? It’s about a kangaroo who has no pocket with which to tote her kid.  She consults other animals about how they carry around their babies before scoring a sweet pocket-covered apron from a handyman. I am sure there is an important conversation to be had about the White-man-saves-the-day theme, but man did little me dig that apron.

Katy No-Pocket's badass utility apron

Katy No-Pocket’s badass utility apron

Stay tuned, this may inspire a longer series on the global need for more pockets in women’s clothing and how to upcycle our way out of that crisis.

Fuck Yeah Upcycle

Friday, February 15, 2013

This. Happy Friday.

Trash Cam Carries On

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trash Cams—pinhole cameras constructed by German binmen out of dumpsters—were easily my favorite finding of Decorative Dumpster Day last year.

Photo by  by Mirko Derpmann via Flickr

Photo by by Mirko Derpmann via Flickr

So I was delighted to be reminded of the project by a recent unconsumption post. The project’s Flickr page hosts a number of wonderful images including an adorable folder called The Tonnographers comprised of photos of the men taking photos with dumpsters; as well as the eery, arty pinhole images they captured.

Photo by by Michael Pfohlmann, Christoph Blaschke and Mirko Derpmann via Flickr

Photo by by Michael Pfohlmann, Christoph Blaschke and Mirko Derpmann via Flickr

I just love the photo captions noting the type of camera as a “1.100 litre garbage container.”

Trashy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hey kids, thought you’d enjoy this kiss off to consumerism and ode to the thrift store from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.

Everything old is new again!


We send back music

Monday, December 10, 2012

Landfill Harmonic is a documentary filmed in Paraguay about an orchestra whose musicians—young residents of a slum built on top of a landfill—play instruments made from trash. Here’s the trailer, which opens with a beautiful quote from the orchestra director: “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” Gives me chills. I can’t wait for this film to be released.

Like the project on Facebook, here. Thanks for the tip, Brigitte. I am sure we’ll be posting more on this project as the film is released.

Homemade Holidays

Friday, November 23, 2012

I miss my grandmother. This is our second Thanksgiving since she died and though my mother and aunt took over most of the cooking years ago, as the architect of many of our family traditions (and the one who taught us all to cook) her influence on holiday meals endures. We took a few minutes to read through some of her recipe cards yesterday, which include detailed notes to my aunt on how to use every last bit of the bird (use the giblets in soup stock and gravy, but not the liver because it makes the stock bitter, instead the liver should be cooked separately and fed to the baby or made into a delicious spread for the adults). She remains present in every part of the meal from start to the grand finale: it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Grandma’s incredible pumpkin pie full of flavor from freshly ground ginger and a healthy dash of cognac.

Holiday Gifts

As I munch on a slice of that magic for my traditional day-after breakfast, I have been scanning social media and noting alternating updates from friends and family who are either camped out to take advantage of sales or holed up at home abstaining from the consumer madness. Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day, whatever you call it, many of us have gifts on the mind. At the end of our family meal yesterday, we discussed what we each would like for Christmas gifts, whether adults should exchange gifts at all, whether there should be a low price limit on gifts, and closed promising to send detailed wishlists to one another. An email chain with hyperlinks to exactly what we want has become our new tradition. And while this eliminates waste in that it cuts out unwanted presents that would be tossed or relegated to the regifting pile, it also eliminates the charm.

I am reminded again of my grandmother, who one year more than a decade ago declared homemade Christmas and insisted that the gifts we gave one another be things we made ourselves. I still have and cherish nearly everything I received that year: a watercolor rendering of the view from my childhood bedroom painted by my mother,  a colorful apron made by my youngest cousin (with significant help from Grandma, but whatever), and a sewing kit put together by my grandmother. It is far and away the most useful gift I have ever received. She decorated a lunch pail with magazine cut outs of a thread and needle and stuffed it with basic sewing supplies: a seam ripper, black, brown, navy and white thread, some embroidery thread, miscellaneous buttons, iron-on patches, thimbles, pin cushions bursting with pins, Velcro strips, safety pins and a pair of scissors. These tools, combined with the knowledge of how to use them (an earlier gift from Grandma, dispensed over time) have been put to use constantly since I received the kit. Knowing how to sew a button, open the sewn-shut pockets of a new coat without tearing it, patch a tear in a favorite pair of pants and remove gaudy brand labels from any item of clothing made me a popular dorm and roommate. Over the years I have added the extra buttons from new clothes and the occasional mini sewing kit swiped from a hotel, but the otherwise have never had to restock.

It may be a bit late this year to spring on my family, but I hope at least some years down the road we revive the homemade holiday. DIY may seem intimidating at first, but even the least crafty person can find a fun project. What are the best homemade gifts you ever received?


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hey there. How are you? It’s been a while, I know. I won’t weigh down this post with a long apology for the unannounced hiatus, just know this: everydaytrash is back. Expect more regular updates going forward.

Speaking of forward momentum, this blog is six years old. And then some. Here’s the very first post to prove it. Thank you, trashies, for sticking with me all this time and, in particular, for sending me so many amazing garbage-related tidbits.

Six years and more than one thousand posts later, this subject never gets old. Every time I verge on trash-fatigue, I discover some inspired creative project. This morning, for example, I woke up, went online and came across two amazing feats of upcycling. This phone-booth-turned-fish-tank in Osaka, Japan (via inhabitat).


Gold fish!

And this adorable drum kit (via ReUseConnection).


Not pictured: Stuart Little.

The best thing about producing a trash blog is the balance of wonk and whimsy. For every massive report on solid waste management, there’s a phone booth aquarium or tin can trap set.

Much more to come.



Glide Skateboards

Thursday, May 10, 2012

HONY featured this guy today, which led me to the Facebook page and website of Glide Skateboards, which explain that they make “hand crafted boards made from reclaimed sustainable materials inspired by the graceful lines of surfing.”  Check out the links for galleries of gym floors upcycled into elegant rides.

Photo by

Tangentially related personal story:

These well-crafted boards are a far cry from my first and only skateboard, purchased from a dingy toy store in Harlem overcrowded with cheap plastic toys imported from sweatshops around the world. I wanted a cap gun, the kind the boys in my building used to run around shooting, but my parents forbade it. With regret, I gave up on that campaign and focused my lust on a thick wooden skateboard decorated on the underside with a Bruce Lee-inspired painting of a shirtless Asian man in jeans. I believe it asaid “Kung Fu” above his head, in Kung Fu font.

In retrospect, that skateboard was the first significant purchase I made with my own money. I saved my allowance for weeks and did extra chores for extra coin to reach my goal more quickly. Then, through much whining, I convinced my dad to walk me to the store on his day off and plunked down my money for the prize. I can still picture the shopkeeper taking my Kung Fu board off the display shelf behind the counter and handing it over.

Many happy trips to the park followed, where more often than riding the board upright, I would take it to the top of a hill, sit on it and grip the plastic hand grips on either side as I rolled to the bottom. It functioned mainly as a sled on wheels. It had a large red plastic bumper, which I could activate like a brake by lifting my legs up in the air, leaning back and using my butt to tip the end of the board toward the pavement. Good times.

A couple years later, a friend’s older brother declared my Kung Fu board a piece of shit and proceeded to prove its poor construction by slamming it repeatedly into the stoop until deep scratches stretched across the mildly offensive design and, finally, the flimsy wood splintered and split in two.

I guess the lessons here are that big brothers can be cruel and cheap things never last.

Vintage Automotive Fabrics

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Forgive me, trashies, for I have splurged. Living in Brooklyn is a true test for a lover of upcycling. A slew of boutiques boasting fashionably recycled goods line the path between my apartment and the shops where I buy my groceries. I spotted this Kim White bag at Kaight a week ago and was taken by the Southwest design, even more so when I discovered the designer uses salvaged car upholstery.

Kim White Red Southwest Bag

From White’s website:

Why are Kim White Handbags so special? Made from vintage automotive fabrics, Kim White uses dead stock never-used textiles intended for use in American automobiles: cars, trucks and vans. She fortuitously unearthed an entire warehouse of automotive fabric, which may be the last existing stock anywhere in the US, and she is the sole owner of these amazing textiles.

I took a photo of the bag, waited a week and went back for it. As luck would have it, Kaight advertised a “shop your values” deal on Twitter so I got a slight break on the steep price. I figure fabric designed for the inside of cars aught to last a while. It’s cute, right?



Saturday, April 14, 2012

Remember this sweet chandelier? I just learned that it’s coming to NYC for Earth Day!

Chandelier in Toronto, 2009

I have to say I get MANY, MANY Earth Day pitch emails, usually covering general green topics not directly linked to trash and most pimping  a for-profit product. So I was extra thrilled to get word that  a public art project I have admired from afar. It goes up tomorrow, here’s what the press release has to say about the installation, which opens tomorrow (I added the links):

A 21-foot tall sculpture in the form of a chandelier made of recycled plastic containers will hang above the World Financial Center Winter Garden’s famed marble staircase for an entire month starting on April 15th. 

From April 15th through May 11th, visitors to the ten-story glass-vaulted atrium will be able to look up and see artist Katharine Harvey‘s stunning Chandelier, a 21-foot tall and 15-foot wide sculpture consisting of thousands of used plastic containers laboriously washed and strung together. The artist has transformed water bottles, sandwich trays, muffin tins, salad boxes, egg cartons, and more into a symbol of luxury and opulence while simultaneously commenting on the glut of plastic in consumer society.
And here’s more about the artist, also from the press release:
A resident of Toronto, Canada, Katharine Harvey, represented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery, is known for creating sculptural installations that refashion plastic packaging and dollar-store items into startlingly beautiful works of art. Her paintings, light displays, and sculptures have been featured in galleries and public installations throughout the world, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Nuit Blanche Festival in Toronto, Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Le Centre d’Exposition in Baie-St-Paul (Québec), and the Painting Center (New York). Group shows include the Galerie Art Mûr (Québec), Art Gallery of Regina, Saskatchewan, as well as residencies at Ivavvik National Park in the northern Yukon (2006) and The Banff Centre in Alberta (2003).
Local trashies, send photos and comments if you go check it out for yourselves. I plan to stop by sometime this week.

Zero waste crackers

Monday, February 20, 2012

My roommate, Rubina, is an amazing cook and entertainer. I love living with her for many reasons, mainly because she’s a dear friend and a good sounding board on all of life’s most important issues. We discuss practically everything, but if you were to bug our place, you would find that well over half of our conversations center around food. Every once in a while those food conversations are comprised of brainstorming sessions over what we (read: she) could make to use up things in the fridge that are about to go bad. Rubina has a gift for trash-aversion recipes, which she says comes from growing up with immigrant parents who taught her the value of resourcefulness and the horror of wastefulness. I come from culturally similar stock, yet never cease to be surprised by the creativity Ruby employs to avoid throwing anything out. Case in point: the cheese crackers that just came out of our oven.


We had a wee bit of blue cheese in the fridge and, because our friend Glenn had recently blown our minds by making a quiche out of it, we had blue cheese baked goods on the mind. Also on the verge of expiring: a bit of cheddar and some buttermilk purchased for another baking project long completed. So, Rubina whipped up a quick biscuit dough, rolled it out and with the round end of an icing tube decorating tip, cut the dough into tiny circles and baked those into jumbo oyster cracker sized bites. She made two batches of buttermilk cheese crackers: cornmeal blue cheese and whole wheat cheddar. Our house now smells amazing. Bet you wished you lived here, too.

You know who else is great at averting food waste? My friend, Virginia of Italicious. I’ve featured her Reused Recycled page here before. If you haven’t clicked through her site in while, check it out. Their family recently moved back to Italy, this time to the South, so it’s the dawn of a whole new chapter of food talk and recipes. I’m sad they’re far away, but delighted to live vicariously through the yummy posts.

Bon appetit, trashies!

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