Decorate, Design with Salvaged Plastic


Salvage in design is my thing, and industrial salvage is where my heart lives. But when it’s time to make a purchase for the house, I don’t discriminate against any type of salvage.

Whether it’s reclaimed wood or leather on the floors, vintage lights, salvaged metal, old buffets converted to sinks, or a roof made from recycled tires, I look first for products made from salvaged materials. Sure, we all recycle as much as possible (right?), but how about supporting those who fight the good fight farther upstream, as in the re-use area? These people deserve our support! I’m not advocating purchasing something you don’t love just because it’s made from reused materials. No, that’s a waste of money — and who can afford to waste money? We can, however, be more conscious of every dollar we do spend, and support the environment with each of those dollars. (Your dollar = your vote, people.)

Let’s use shoe shopping as an example. I have huge, huge, freakishly huge clown feet. Here’s a scenario that’s happened more than I care to admit: I walk into a shoe store and pick up a shoe, turn to the salesperson and say, Do you have this in an 11 or 12? The salesperson looks aghast and replies, No, no, we don’t carry those sizes. I walk away and never go back. I don’t look at any other merchandise in the store, and they don’t get my money. The upshot is this — there are more pretty things to buy in this world than I can possibly afford, so why patronize a store that looks down on my clown feet?

The same principle applies to purchases for your home. Given that you, like the rest of us, might not have unlimited resources, you’re probably choosy about what you buy. But are you picky about the provenance of your purchases? Shopping at Target is fun because everything is pretty and arranged nicely. But it all comes from overseas factories that might pollute and pay substandard wages. Why buy there when you can buy locally sourced goods from artists and artisans? Why buy mass produced art when you can buy something handmade directly from an artist? Handmade goods do not have to be ridiculously expensive. Mom’s recycled metal sculpture pictured above was reasonably priced. The fewer things you buy at Target and Costco, the more handmade goods and art you can buy. It’s a good tradeoff. Next time you pick up a pretty picture frame or another set of glasses at Costco, think it through. Do you really need them, or would you rather save the money for something special, something handmade or vintage? 



Try this with every purchase. Every time you need or want something, think salvage first. I did this with the lights for my yellow room. I started looking at vintage. I kept looking at vintage until one day I ran across the lamps pictured, which are not at all vintage. These are Petlamps, which use land-filled plastic bottles as a base, with shades woven by artisans in South America. Not vintage, but handmade with a reused plastic base. Pretty cool. And, the search was fun, the satisfaction immense. I found cool lights, kept some plastic out of the landfill, and have hand-woven light shades. #winning!

Need more inspiration? Check out these sculptures made from recycled plastic bottles. These blow my mind!

Take a minute to assess your plastic habit. Still too strong for your liking? Check out the tips about kicking your plastic habit in this article.