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These days most of us are very comfortable with the concept of recycling. It's almost become second nature to do it.
We recycle everything from bottles and paper to food scraps, phones and TV's, feeling that we're doing our bit for the planet.
But I was intrigued to see a sign advertising The Upcycling Shop recently in the south of Adelaide, and was drawn to it to find out more. An old bed head in the window proudly displayed a definition of upcycling:
Taking something old or used and making it useful again.
To someone who has found useful stuff in hard waste collections about Adelaide at times, it seemed a sensible goal. After wandering inside for a browse it struck me as rather like a second hand shop or a thrift store with a sprinkling of vintage items.
There was quite a range of odd and unusual items - all looking clean and well cared for, but I thought I needed to chat with owner Sue to hear more about her new venture.
On the suggestion of last year's Thinker in residence Alexander Kalache, proprietor Sue decided to take early retirement from her job and do something that she felt was worthwhile and enjoyable. In her words, she is "doing something to save all of the wonderful junk we discard in the pursuit of consumerism. Reducing the use of finite materials in any way is my way of putting back after years of collecting and consumerism".
Remembering how many old mobile phones I stock in my bottom drawer, I could relate to her sentiment. I asked her to talk to me about some of the items on display, and she started with the bread table. It's a classic example of upcycling, created from roadside finds (or roadkill as others call it). They were cleaned and re-painted then combined to produce a delightful table combination that would look great in a cafe or bakery.
Sue's first attempt at clothes upcycling will be transforming an old quilted bedspread into a bed cape which might be used for an older person.
One of the other upcycled products is a hand made mannequin made many years ago by a senior public servant who has now retired. When she moved into a nursing home it was going to be sent to the rubbish, so Sue turned it into an old pattern decoupage angel which takes pride of place at the shop.
An Olivetti Dora typewriter looks almost brand new, while a set of suitcases look as though they date back to the 40's or 50's. They probably would outlast luggage made today, but I have got quite fond of wheels on my luggage now.
Your typical second hand shop normally has a lot of glassware and used clothing, with a smattering of furniture and books. But the Upcycling Shop has a rather unique mix, and pretty much everything comes with a story. I like that.
Now if only I knew the story of the kangaroo's head that gazes solemnly at me from its commanding position on the wall. He does seem very comfortable with the concept of upcycling.
Give The Upcycling Shop a Like on Facebook, and keep track of new acquisitions as they arrive.
If you're looking for recycled books while you're in the area, remember the Rotary second hand book store is only a minute away. And all that shopping has probably made you hungry, so perhaps pop in to other local businesses Arriba Grill or Clay & Coal for a bite?