UPCYCLING : The U in Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Meenakshi Venkatraman offers a unique slant on recycling – an especially interesting one, from a teenager’s point of view.

Singapore is refreshingly green for a people-packed urban paradise – in terms of eco-friendly technology as well as being quite vegetated for such a small country.

Learning from a Grade 5-er
I was at the Grade 5 exhibition in my school, remembering all the good times I had when I was in Grade 5. This exhibition is something many international schools here take part in, where the fifth graders have to choose, research and present their area of study. When I was that age, our topics had to be linked to saving the environment, but now the school has narrowed it down to eco-friendliness in Singapore.

After having several enthusiastic students steamrolling my ears about their chosen topics for about an hour, and wondering if I was half as knowledgeable as them at their age, I finally came to a pretty exhibit with a funky spray-painted background and the most distracting items of all – props. There was no one at the exhibit yet to drop explanatory bombshells on us, so my friend and I fiddled with some cool shirts and headbands.

Upcycling : a Grade 5 concept ?
Presently, an adorable fifth-grade girl popped up and started telling us about ‘upcycling.’ I had never heard the word before, so I listened as she explained upcycling – basically taking your old stuff and turning it into new stuff !

She showed us a bag that had been made out of a pair of outgrown jeans. I was shocked – WHAT? That was once a pair of jeans?! – and so impressed and excited that I took home a manual on how to make this jean-bag.

Having nothing better to do the next Sunday morning, I took out my old jeans which I had been saving for who knows what reason. I finally did have a reason – some forty minutes and two poked-by-a-needle fingers later I had acquired a snazzy new bag … made from jeans! It looked perfect – it didn’t resemble a pair of jeans too much.

This is what I mean about Singapore being green. There are many things you can do to be more eco-friendly – taking public transport, bringing your own bag for shopping, trash-picking on the beaches …  and we learn about these things in school.

But for all these, you need to step out of the house, But not for upcycling.
Things you needMaking your own bag is convenient to do at home, because you only need these items : (needle, thread, old pair of jeans, scissors and optional accessories). Watching YouTube videos, I later added the sash and sewed some can-tabs on around a horse pendant that had broken off a necklace; also reused stuff.

Start Upcycling
Next time you have a sudden urge to go green, you can be lazy … just stay at home and RRR – reduce your carbon footprint by not driving out somewhere, reuse an old pair of jeans and recycle other odds and ends. If you think about it, do you really want to purchase something new for one year old boys toys?  That’s just silly, since they are more likely to be amused by the box that the new toy comes in…

Author:  Meenakshi Venkatraman
Meenakshi is a Middle school student of United World College in Singapore. She embodies the school’s ethos of service not only to the community but also environmental concerns. She has been involved in activities such as Beach Clean ups, Recycling efforts in the school and Raising funds for Under Priviledged Children of Vietnam. She was one of two students in the Elementary school to have won an award in Social Service for her commitment to Movement for The Intellectually Disabled of Singapore. Apart from that she has also given Bharatanatyam performances for the charity Ray of Hope to raise funds for the Mumbai Creche. Her other interests include art, reading, hiking, camping and sports such as Netball and Badminton.

This article first appeared on  http://singaporeforkids.wordpress.com

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