My Upcycle Journey Continues with Refresh Glass
How much trash do you throw away every day? Most people don’t think about it because as soon as the trash gets taken out, it’s out of sight. Some items get recycled, but most items go straight to the landfill.
We live in a consumer society where everything is disposable. When I was an auctioneer, I saw people struggle between hoarding their belongings and throwing everything away. That’s what really drew me to the secondhand subculture: giving items a new life so they aren’t hoarded or thrown out.
Whether you’re just beginning your upcycle journey or are looking for more thrift store tips, I’ve got your back. Here are some of my favorite things I’ve learned throughout my upcycle journey.
One of the cool things I found on my upcycle journey is a business called Refresh Glass. At first glance, it just looks like a business that sells personalized high-quality glass cups and bottles. But it’s really a mission to recycle used glass into things people will use.
Refresh Glass has a facility and truck that processes hundreds of thousands of used bottles per year. They collect these bottles with help from collection partners, crew, and the community.
Check out their 10 Million Bottle Rescue Mission. It's so cool I am going hashtag. #10millionbottlerescue
Plenty of people out there are stuck in a very consumerist lifestyle. People buy things they don’t need and they give gifts their friends don’t need.
Part of the Refresh Glass mission is to get people to think differently about how they live. Since most gifts aren’t cherished for very long, you don’t need to give as constantly or as often as you think you do.
People are looking for a good way to solve this problem. Refresh Glass offers a gift that has already been recycled but is also stylish.
Goodwill Tips & Tricks
On my upcycling journey, I’ve been more deliberate in secondhand shopping. I mostly shop at thrift stores like Goodwill. Shopping for used items prevents things from going to the landfill, and it gives items a second life. I know I have shared some of these before but hey, I typically can use a refresher myself. Here are some thrift store tips I’ve learned along the way:
If you’re determined to find good deals, you have to go frequently. But that doesn’t mean you have to let it take over your life. I go in about once a week to see what they have. If you never find anything, you might just be going on an off day when the stock isn’t great.
Some days you get lucky, and others you don’t get lucky. It’s all part of the game. Just keep going and don’t give up, and you’ll find some great things in no time.
Go During the Prime Times
You have to think about Goodwill as you think about retail stores: when do the new things come out? For regular stores, it’s usually once a season and extra stuff comes out around the holidays. But for thrift stores like Goodwill, you have to think about when people are donating.
Most people usually clean out their houses and closets make donations on the weekends. Because of this, I usually have some good luck on Monday. I also have good luck right after three-day weekends like after Memorial Day.
Another tip is to go early in the day. I’m not the only Goodwill shopper out there, and I’ve seen people lining up at the door before it opens. It seems kind of crazy, but other people are out looking for good deals. You’ll have the best chances of success if you look around before it gets too picked over.
Know What You’re Looking For
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed in Goodwill, especially when you first start thrift shopping. One of my thrift store tips is to start shopping in familiar sections and branching out from there. Eventually, you’ll find a rhythm so it’s easier to navigate.
You can also keep a list in mind of what you’re looking for so you can narrow down your search. I like looking in the frames section because I’ll always pick up a good picture frame. Lighting and holiday sections are also good to check out. You can find lightly-used Christmas decor for cheap, especially in the summertime.
FYI: I have a killer video coming out soon that will be sure to inspire your picker gene.
Stores in Higher-End Neighborhoods
You can find some expensive pieces of furniture and decor in the Goodwills in the wealthier parts of your town. It’s worth it to make the drive every once in a while if you live in or on the outskirts of higher-end neighborhoods. You’ll probably have better luck there than in the impoverished areas.
Paint Can Fix Lots of Things
If you find a good item that’s chipped, don’t worry about it. Don’t even worry if it’s the wrong color altogether, it’s an easy fix with paint. As long as an item’s good quality, you’re only limited by your imagination. My wife has done some amazing things with an $8 vase and some paint.
Since I’ve been shopping more at Goodwill and I’ve been reading more into upcycling, I’ve naturally become more interested in steampunk. Steampunk is basically imagining modern technology with 19th-century clothing and steam-powered machinery.
You’d recognize steampunk outfits and jewelry because it’s heavily inspired by 1800’s fashion, with gears and mechanical elements exposed. Things like corsets, top hats, long coats, trousers, cameos, lace gloves, and leather accessories all embody steampunk fashion.
Many artists upcycle machinery, leather, and other thrifted materials to create steampunk outfits and accessories. It’s another way people are upcycling used items. In the steampunk community, people gather together and brag about treasures they find at thrift stores and garage sales.
Part of the steampunk allure is that it’s inspired by 19th-century technology, where people used to take pride in their technologies like gramophones, radios, and telephones. Items were built to last and be passed down. They were treated with respect.
These days, we expect technology to be obsolete in a few years. Modern phones are made with cheap materials and don't last long. As consumers, we don’t even question it. In contrast, steampunk rejects disposable technology and finds a way to recycle it.
We live in a consumer society where people struggle with holding onto things or throwing things out. Whether you want to start with thrift store tips and tricks, try steampunk, or buy a nice glass from Refresh Glass, you can make a difference. For more tips and tricks, visit my blog. Until next time.
● Thrift store tips
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- “Refresh Glass.” - https://refreshglass.com/pages/about-us
- “12 Goodwill Shopping Secrets Revealed.” - https://www.blesserhouse.com/12-goodwill-shopping-secrets-revealed/
- “Steampunk: Reimagining Trash and Technology.” - https://blog.castac.org/2013/08/steampunk-reimagining-trash-and-technology/