You're already schooled in the three R's of eco-living: reduce, reuse, recycle. But now there's a new letter to add to the trio: U for "upcycling."
Upcycling is taking something you would otherwise throw away and making it into something else. You also know it as the old adage, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Step into Pioneer & Lucerne Hardware on North Crescent Drive and meet manager Jeff Berman. A self-taught artist, Berman has created and exhibited gallery-worthy art from bits and pieces of this and that.
Bicycle sprockets, old house keys, pages from a book and film reels are just some of the "trash" that he has recovered and used for his assemblages.
"People recognize these items," Berman said. "That makes it easier to translate into art and show that the possibilities are endless with otherwise discarded items."
Working at Pioneer & Lucerne is perfect for Berman because of the soon-to-be discarded goods he can access there. Before anything is tossed into the trash, customers ask for Berman's blessing. Getting a new key made? Berman will take the old one and put it in a collage. Buying paint? Bring the empty cans back and he can use them to store materials for his next project.
Berman's entry into the art world began in 1997 with a piece created from old newspapers. And Berman has some news of his own: He's exhibiting his latest work at Blue Seven Gallery in Santa Monica in a show that opens Friday.
"Nothing is 'old' to me," Berman said. "It's something new I can use for something else."
One of my favorite ways to upcycle is to take estate sale favorites such as vintage tablecloths and create one-of-a-kind kitchen aprons.
That's the beauty of upcycling: It's being resourceful, fun, frugal and doing good while being green. So remember to RRRU!