upcycle upcycling reuse repurpose reusing repurposing recycle recycling sustainability slideshow presentation

Upcycle, reuse & repurpose – Inspirational ideas

Making & DIY, Sustainability

Upcycle, reuse and repurpose unwanted items. Make the most of your rubbish and maybe even make something beautiful.

Take a look at these weird and wonderful ideas. Hopefully they will inspire you and help you to look at your rubbish in a whole new light.

Just click through each slide using the yellow boxes at the bottom of the pictures, or by clicking on the actual pictures. Enjoy!

Upcycling – by ThriftySustainability.net – Created with Haiku Deck

Why Upcycle?

Upcycling unwanted materials helps our environment, one repurposed item at a time. Creating something from our waste will save that waste from going into a landfill site. It will save the energy and transportation that would have been used to process the waste.

Repurposing can also save us from buying something new, if we can make what we need, out of what we already have lying around… we can save money as well as live sustainably.

Upcycled items can also make fantastic gifts, just take a look through the slides above for some great thrifty and sustainable DIY gift ideas. Or take a look at this previous post for another upcycling idea: DIY gift idea

Some of the most inspirational upcycling ideas are those which use our rubbish to create something beautiful and that puts something in the world that will cheer people up a little when they see it. That’s got to be worth the effort!

What will you upcycle? Do you have any upcycling ideas? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Happy Upcycling!
A few self-sufficient, thrifty or off-the-grid selections, including Solar Panel Chargers. Toys and tools that I’m saving up for!

If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here:


grow your own zucchini courgette plant vegetables self-sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Why grow your own fruit and vegetables?

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

thrifty sustainability affordable cheap food grow your own vegetables allotmentGrow your own

If you are looking for ways to save money and to live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle, why not grow your own food, it’s a great place to start.

Planting, nurturing, growing, picking, preparing and then eating your own food can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Whether you are growing food in an allotment, community garden project, your home garden or even in your window box, there is a way for everyone to have a go and have a grow!

Saving Money

The price of food shopping is always increasing and growing your own food can help to cut food bills considerably.

As an example: You can buy a packet of courgette seeds for 70p and just one courgette plant can yield 10 courgettes or more! Compare that to a pack of 2 courgettes costing £1.30 in a supermarket and you can see how the savings will soon pile up.

grow your own zucchini courgette plant vegetables self sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Just one courgette plant can yield 10 courgettes or more!

You can save even more money buy bulk-buying packets of seeds online. Ebay has lots of these and you can often buy a set of 50 varied seed packets for about £10.

If money is tight you can also swap your extra fresh fruit and veg with neighbours for other items that you need.

Rather than buying an expensive gift, freshly picked fruit and veg makes an excellent present for a friend or relative. It’s a really thoughtful gift because you’ve put your time and energy into making it for them. You could make a fresh veg hamper or give a bag of fresh veg with a recipe for a soup that they can make with the vegetables.

Helping the environment

pesticides food production industry sustainability grow your own vegetables

Pesticides can pollute the soil and our rivers

If you grow your own food, you are helping the environment. You dramatically cut your food’s carbon footprint, by cutting down on the energy use, waste and emissions that the food industry production, refrigeration and transportation requires.

Your home-grown food will also not have used chemical fertilisers or pesticides which are harmful for local wildlife, such as bees and birds, and the environment. Pesticides used in growing food on a mass-scale can pollute the soil and as rain water drains through the soil and finds its way to streams an rivers, our waterways can become polluted and harm fish and river wildlife also.

Health Benefits

This new hobby can benefit your health also. You will discover a sense of wellbeing and connectedness to nature, as you work in harmony with your environment and enjoy fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and veg. Harvesting and preparing food that you’ve grown yourself, from scratch, can also give your self-esteem a really great boost.

By consuming your produce within a few hours of picking, you enjoy the full, fresh, nutritional benefit of that food. If it is freshly-picked the vitamin content of the food is at its highest. Eating lots of fresh fruit and veg can really help you to absorb all the vitamins and minerals that you need as part of a healthy balanced diet and that helps to strengthen your body’s immune system.

Of course, gardening is also great exercise! All that time out in the fresh air, moving around, getting your heart pumping, using your muscles and even boosting your mood with all that natural light and the feeling of vitality that comes from working up a sweat!

Anyone who has ever tasted a freshly-picked, home-grown, organic, ripe, plump and juicy tomato, bursting with flavour…will tell you that freshly picked food tastes so much better! So start enjoying your food even more by really tasting it. Food that is a joy to eat can make anyone smile.


When we work together and share the results, we build and strengthen a community.

veg gift basket grow your own vegetables self sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Share your home-grown veg with friends

As you grow your own food, you will find that sometimes you get a glut of a particular fruit or vegetable, as the weather and growing conditions have produced an abundance of growth. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your home-grown food with friends, family, neighbours and fellow food growers!

If you grow on an allotment, perhaps you can leave spare food near the gate with a sign saying – free, please take what you need. If you grow in your garden at home and have a glut, why not take your spare food to a neighbour or friends. You may even find that your friends, neighbours and fellow growers are inspired to do the same.

Talk to fellow food growers, share tips and success stories, share food and left over seeds. Not only might you make someone’s day, but you just might learn something and make a new friend too!

More articles about growing and preserving your own food coming soon.

Similar posts: Grow your own – Planting & Picking Calendar
A few self-sufficient, thrifty or off-the-grid selections, including Solar Panel Chargers. Toys and tools that I’m saving up for!

If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here:


carrier bags carrier bag Shopping trolley cart eco friendly sustainable carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

Why are carrier bags 5p now? – Explanation & alternatives to save you money

Sustainability, Thrifty

You have probably noticed by now, that most shops in the UK are charging 5p per carrier bag at the checkouts. It’s caused some confusion and has caused more than a few cross words over the last couple of weeks, at tills across the country. Lets take a look at why carrier bags now cost you money, and the thinking behind this new cost.

Why shops started to charge 5p per carrier bag:

On the 5th October 2015 the Law in the UK changed making it compulsory for larger shops to charge for every ‘single use’ carrier bag. This law affects all of the shops and supermarket chains with over 250 employees. This law does not affect the smaller shops at the moment, but they can choose to charge 5p per bag as well, if they wish to, on a voluntary basis.

When carrier bags are free:
Some items are allowed a free carrier bag, often due to health and safety reasons. Free carrier bag items are as follows: unwrapped food, raw meat and fish where there is a food safety risk, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish.

You can read the full terms and conditions set out for retailers on this government web page about the carrier bag charge.

Landfill land fill environment eco friendly sustainable carrier bags carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

61,000 tonnes of carrier bag waste in 2014

Why the government want us to re-use or use less carrier bags:
Single use carrier bags cause lots and lots of litter (at least 61,000 tonnes of litter in 2014). Because they are currently thought of as quite a disposable item, many are thrown away in the rubbish bin, or discarded in the street, the average person uses 140 single use carrier bags per year! UK landfills are full of all of our old carrier bags. As well as causing lots of litter, discarded carrier bags are dangerous and destructive for wildlife in the town and country. And, lets face it, tumble-weed carrier bags blowing in the breeze are not such a pretty sight.

Reducing the amount of ‘single use’ carrier bags will really help our environment and ensure that our shopping habits are as sustainable as possible in the long term.

Where does the money go:
The 5p charge is not a government tax and they do not get the money raised from the carrier bags. The money goes to the supermarkets and shops directly, the shops have to keep track of their carrier bag income and it is hoped that the majority will put the 5p charge to good causes and charities. The 5p charge is already in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The charge in Wales has, so far, generated millions of pounds for good causes, so the government’s hopes were well-placed.

The government estimate that the 5p charge will have the following benefits over the next 10 years:

  • an expected overall benefit of over £780 million to the UK economy
  • up to £730 million raised for good causes
  • £60 million savings in litter clean-up costs
  • carbon savings of £13 million

You can read a full breakdown of the government’s explanation for the 5p carrier bag charge on their website.

Alternatives to carrier bags:

Shopping bags eco friendly sustainable recycled materiel weave carrier bags carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

Recycled material shopping bags

I’m sure that we’ve all seen some interesting, creative alternatives for carrier bags over the last couple of weeks. As a few irate customers discover the 5p charge at the checkout and decide not to pay it, they invent new ways to carry their shopping home.

Some of the funnier scenes have included an angry chap in Iceland turning up the bottom of his jumper to make a kind of bulky kangaroo pouch to pile his shopping into – A few pedantic patrons marching out of supermarkets with arms full of shopping balanced here there and everywhere, apart from in a carrier bag. Some supermarkets have even trained their till staff to resolve the arguments that the 5p charge might provoke.

Save yourself from feeling miffed, save a stranger from feeling miffed – carry these alternatives to the carrier bag around with you…

    • Bag for Life – often costs 10p-£1 at the checkout, is supermarket branded, thicker and much sturdier than a ‘single use’ carrier bag and lasts for lots of shopping trips and often the supermarket will replace a worn out bag with a new one for free! This saves you lots of money in the long run
    • A fabric tote bag, made from recycled material – they fold, or roll up, small enough to fit into a handbag or pocket, and they are very strong
    • If you have driven to the supermarket – re-use a cardboard box to carry your groceries. Just pack loose shopping from the shopping trolley into the cardboard box in your car boot
    • Similarly, you could re-use stackable, plastic storage boxes from your home, keeping them in your car boot
    • Start wearing a backpack or carrying a large shoulder bag, such as a messenger bag
Shopping trolley cart eco friendly sustainable carrier bag carrier bags charge 5p sustainability

Shopping trolleys – not just for pensioners!

  • a small fabric shopping trolley with wheels. Once the favourite of pensioners across the UK, these useful carryalls are making a comeback for all ages, thanks to how much you can cram into them and the fact that you don’t need to carry the weight of the shopping – the wheels do that for you
  • A fold up, into a little pouch with a clip, fabric shopping bag – these can be found in any pound shop and in some charity shops and are usually water-resistant too
  • According to government research, the average household is supposed to have about 40 carrier bags stuffed around the house – Go through your cupboards at home and find all of those unloved old carrier bags that may be lurking. Grab a handful and keep them in your bag or pockets for reusing at the checkout. You could do a frustrated stranger a favour by ensuring you have enough for them also at the checkout.

Feel free to share your ideas for carrier bag alternatives, or amusing checkout stories, in the comments section below.


carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability
carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability

A few self-sufficient, thrifty or off-the-grid selections, including Solar Panel Chargers. Toys and tools that I’m saving up for!

If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here: