Art Is Life When it Comes to Upcycling

By Andrew Benson

Illustration by Rebbeca Baruc

The background to any high school theater set is painted on thin wood boards called flats. Whether it’s the poppy fields from Wizard of Oz or the coarse streets of Hamilton, the flats are painted over after every year. Theaters are the ultimate upcyclers. Upcycling saves the theater companies money and resources. The upcycling in theaters also helps the environment. When thinking about how the world should upcycle, associations should begin to look at these brilliant theater companies.

Upcycle That describes upcycling as “taking something that’s considered waste and repurposing it.” The used materials will be reused for something better. It is called upcycling because the “item becomes more functional or beautiful than what it previously was…the value of the item is increased.”

Think of a carefully painted field of red poppies that stretch for what seems like miles. Through the red is the brightest yellow of the notorious yellow brick road. The colors captivate the audience as the singers and dancers fill the stage. Then next year, the bright colors are dimmed by browns and blacks. The darker colors mimic the streets of New York and the pristine mahogany of George Washington’s office. The year after, the flats might be used as building blocks for Matilda. The costumes are reused or weaved into set pieces. The same set pieces can be used over again.

But how can the rules of the theater apply to real life? The environment of theater attracts creative people. Upcycling is a creative endeavor. Budget your money and see what crafts you can make with already used objects. On an individual scale, see what pieces of wood you can reuse like the flats. Paint over old picture frames or use old wood to create a new table. On a larger scale, companies can reuse the pieces of old buildings like the sets.

When it comes to upcycling, art becomes life. Embrace your inner theater kid and start crafting personalized decorations for your home or business. Think of the red poppies in Wizard of Oz and how they can turn to the bleak browns and blacks of Hamilton. Upcycling is your stage, seize the spotlight and shine.