What I’ve Learned From the Art of Upcycling

Upcycling, according to Wikipedia (the most reliable source out there…) is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
Basically you take something with no worth like a plastic bottle, old magazines, ripped jeans and turn it into something that has more value than it originally had like a nifty bracelet, a basket, or a hair accessory.
My older sister who is currently in college took an environment science class. She came home on breaks telling us about her class. One day when I threw away a styrofoam cup, she grabbed it out of a trashcan and said
“Don’t you know how bad it is to throw away styrofoam?!”
When I asked why, she quickly responded saying that styrofoam cannot be recycled.
“Instead of getting recycled, they just sit in landfills for hundreds of years without breaking down,” she explained.
I realized how important the environment is. The environment should be important to us, because it is important to God. We are called by Him to be stewards of the earth as stated in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” We should see the world as a gift from God, this should urge us to take care of and not poison or destroy the earth.
Instead of seeing taking care of the earth as part of a “hippie” or pantheistic movement (as I did when I was younger), I saw it as a gift from our Father who infinitely loves us. We should all see the world as a gift from God, this should urge us to take care of and not poison or destroy the earth.
So this inspired me: What can I do to treat God’s gift to us with reverence and support my Compassion International child? Are there tangible ways to achieve this? Absolutely.
I asked people who had piles of magazines laying around their houses if I could take their magazines and turn them into paper jewelry to support my Compassion child, Abayisenga in Rwanda, Africa. It was wonderful to be able to not only save them a trip to the recycling bins, but share the work that I was doing and hoped to do in Rwanda.
This opportunity has opened doors for me to share my faith with a group of my friends at the secular school that I go to. A few girls responded warmly to my paper necklaces, earrings and bracelets, asking if they could do anything to help and one girl even bought a pair of earrings from me! This common compassion and love for impoverished people that the girls and I share is really special and has brought about good theological discussions after school and abroad.
The art of upcycling is a beautiful picture of God’s redemption. He takes us as wretched, broken, and selfish creatures and says gently “You are of invaluable worth to me. I love you. I choose you. You are mine.”
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