Monday, April 11, 2011


Upcycling. I'd never heard the word until yesterday. It was brought to my attention by my friend, Nicky Stackhouse.

According to Wikipedia, Upcycling is . . .
 "the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value". 

Nicky is in the process of launching a business turning recycled bags into beautiful, exquisite, original, handmade greeting cards. The ones in the photograph below are made from used Trader Joe's bags. Hard to believe, but true.

The idea is fantastic, so simple and so now. The execution is skillful, the result a joy to behold.

But I think there is a whole lot more to upcycling than wikipedia describes. Upcycling can be applied to many things besides waste products or useless items. Therefore, I think a much better definitions is  "Upcycling - the process by which something that already exists is turned into something even better than before".

 Nicky is the reason for my definition. Nicky is upcycling more than just discarded bags.

Last summer Nicky was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent last autumn and this winter fighting to beat the disease. After many grueling hours of tests and doctor consultations, months and months  spent recovering from or preparing for bouts of chemotherapy  and a double mastectomy she is well again. And boy, is she now upcycling herself.....

Nicky always was full of energy and life. Whatever she did she did well and with enthusiasm and she was always fun to be around. But she seems to have taken things to a whole new level.  She is like a whirl wind. She radiates energy and a lust for life.

After lunch with a few days ago she left me on a high. She told those of us present that she had spent too long as a 'sofa slug' and now she was raring to go. Her eyes were bright, her skin was flushed and her eagerness to get out there and do something was infectious. Her ideas were flowing, her mind was spinning, there were not enough hours in her day.

And it doesn't stop there, this upcycling thing. Before Nicky's bout with the Big C she and I were friends but our lives sort of bumped at the edges. We knew people in common and met at the occasional party or lunch, but we did not see each other regularly. A crisis brings people together and that is what it did to us. Apart from being part of Nicky's Knockers, a team that entered the Race for the Cure, I got to know Nicky in many other ways.

During her illness she kept a Caring Bridge Blog. The entries were funny, poignant, informative and well written. Through her blogging and talks about writing we learned new things about each other and our relationship developed. Whenever we see each other, our mutual interest and respect for all things creative and innovative bring us closer.

Our friendship has also been upcycled. We are taking something that already existed and turning it into something even better than before.

So here's to upcycling. What will you upcycle today?

 ******* Cards are available at The Libertine ( ) and sure to be in many other places soon. ********

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