Picking Up Pieces

In case you haven’t noticed from my previous entries and many projects, I love to upcycle. Working with my hands to make something beautiful is an incredible and fulfilling experience. I also enjoy knowing that I’m keeping the world just a little bit cleaner by keeping something old out of a landfill and making it useful again.

More often than not, I use items that I already have around the house. There were pallets in the basement when my husband and I moved into the house, which I used to build the potato condo, and we get more every time we order pellets for our pellet stove. I make hanging planters with soda bottles that my husband empties. However, there are times when I think up a project (or am inspired by Pinterest) and I lack the necessary supplies.

When I need parts for my various undertakings, I’m very hesitant to go out and pick up something new from a store, although that’s often the easiest route. As I said, a big part of why I love to upcycle is to make something old new again, so the challenge becomes finding something old. Many people recommend heading to the local dump, but that’s not really my speed. There are also thrift and antique stores, but those can be more expensive. I prefer to find something that someone owns, but no longer wants, and the easiest place to do that is on the internet. So where do I go?

The first answer is Craigslist. I start by browsing the “Free” section, where I can often find old furniture and scrap wood. You might be surprised at what people will give away just to make space in their homes. If I’m looking for something less readily available, or more specific, I post in the “Wanted” section. This was my latest post:

ISO various items for household upcycling projects. Looking for:

Scrap Wood (Logs, Planks, Boards, Pallets, whatever you have)
Large Picture/Poster Frames
Wooden Ladder
Burlap/Canvas Fabric

As I said, these are for upcycling, so condition doesn’t have to be great. Please provide pictures and what kind of price you’re looking for.

One of the nice things about Craigslist is that you don’t have to sit and monitor the site. People send you an email through a proxy, so you receive the direct communication while keeping your address private. If you’re willing to be a little more public about who you are, the next place to check out is Facebook.

I don’t just mean simply asking your friends, although you can certainly do that. Facebook also has loads of local groups specifically meant for sales and trading. Think of them as online yard sales. Many of these groups even have “yard sale” right in the name. To find one near you, click on “Groups” in your sidebar, then at the top of the page, you’ll see a link for “Local Groups.” Click on that, and odds are that one of the groups listed will be a sales or trading group. Usually, the locations for these are much more refined than on Craigslist, so you won’t be driving an hour or more to pick up a cheap item that costs more in gas than it’s worth.

Another fantastic resource to check out is Freecycle. It’s an entire website dedicated to the free exchange of items to keep useful things out of landfills. It’s a lot like Craigslist, but more local and everything is free. The only drawback is that you won’t see as many images of the items up for grabs. However, it’s a great site with a wonderful purpose.

The reason I’m posting this blog entry is not just to give you insight into my process, but to also make it easier for anyone reading this to get into upcycling or increase their ability to do so. Upcycling is an incredible hobby, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. It’s an amazing feeling to have a guest comment on a decoration or piece of furniture in your house and being able to say “I made that.” So, if you love browsing the Pinterest DIY boards or simply have a creative streak in you, give these places a shot, see what you can find, and show me what you can make!

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