8 Upcycling Books That Will Chic Your Life And Cut Your Waste

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Anna Gooding-Call

Staff Writer

Anna Gooding-Call is a librarian and writer originally from rural central New York. She got her BA in the city that inspired "The Twilight Zone" and confirms that the hitchhikers really are weird there. Today, she lives in Massachusetts with her wife and two cats.

Don’t buy things. Buying things isn’t cool! Instead, head over to your local public library and borrow one of these upcycling books. If you’re here to learn about how to upcycle old books, then we’ve got some lovely posts for you right here and here. Go to town. Then come back and find some literature that will turn your lame-o trash into chic treasure!

50 Nifty Thrifty Upcycled Fashions by Cynthia Anderson 50 Nifty Thrifty Upcycled Fashions: Sew Something from Nothing by Cynthia Anderson

Maybe you’re a fashionista with designs (heh) on your local couture scene. If so, then you need to start sniffing around thrift shops for a sewing machine. (There are always like five. Seriously. Go look, there’s one right now.) Sewing is the next step for the real fashion-forward self-designer, not to mention a proud and chic upcycler.

Building with Secondhand Stuff: How to Reclaim, Repurpose, Re-use & Upcycle Salvaged & Leftover Materials by Chris Peterson

Pallets are the great overlooked upcycling opportunity of our time, but you need to know what you’re looking for – some have been treated with pesticides or used to transport chemicals that you definitely don’t want to track into your home. This book tells you exactly how to upcycle construction materials, and if you’re handy, it’s an invaluable guide.

The Cardboard Bible: Taking Cardboard Crafting to the Extremes of Creativity and Upcycling by Luanga Nuwame and Randall Wickham

I love cardboard. It’s generally free, it’s everywhere, and you would not believe what you can accomplish with it. Furniture, toys, and more are within your grasp once you pin down the basics of cardboard construction. This book will get you there and a little further.

Crafty Cans and Perplexing Plastic – Create Cards and Gifts from Soda Cans and Plastic Packaging by Mahe Zehra Husain

Even if you live in perfect harmony with the Earth Mother, vibrating in synchrony with the natural universe as a beacon of endless light, you will generate some packaging waste. You are human and need to keep reading Book Riot, so someday you will need a new Internet-capable device. Don’t despair! All that ugly packaging will look adorable in your scrapbook when you follow these innovative greencrafting techniques.

Creating the Vintage Look: 35 ways to upcycle for a stylish home by Ellie Laycock

Your upcycled stuff isn’t new. Nothing will make it new. That’s OK! Vintage is trendy. A lot of upcycling books brag about their ability to turn your living space into a catalog-worthy vintage fest, but this particular book really delivers on its promise.

Upcycling by Danny Seo Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have by Danny Seo

Once yuo’re done with this title, you’re not going to want to throw anything out. From broken belts to take-out chopsticks, everything takes on new life in this completely charming upcycling go-to.

Upcycled Technology: Clever Projects You Can Do With Your Discarded Tech by Daniel Davis

Remember that computer you needed to read Book Riot? Don’t despair when it goes kaput. You can turn that piece of dead tech into something vital and new! From the magnets in your hard drive to that ancient iPod, there’s always something new that you can do with old silicon.

Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love by Blair Stocker

Decorating is a great way to use up your extraneous stuff, and this book is nothing if not full of decorating acumen. Thrill at ideas for coasters, mirror frames, and throw pillows! I mean that sincerely – this is a great way to keep beloved but worn out items part of your home life by incorporating them into your space forever. This is one of those upcycling books that’s great to read with older kids!