DIY ideas with upcycling save costs and bring joy!

At VAUDE, we use upcycling in a variety of ways to turn unneeded materials into great new products like bags, backpacks, and more. We show you some ideas.

Good things are often very close at hand. Like with upcycling. Upcycling means: to make something valuable from seemingly useless, which is already available. With a little creativity, supposed waste products such as fabric scraps, offcuts or discarded advertising banners can be turned into new products with real utility value. Use instead of throw away is the motto of upcycling. We present four examples of how upcycling saves resources, is useful and is fun.

  1. DIY upcycling ideas: Do good with homemade gifts
  2. Furoshiki: Wrap gifts with VAUDE decorative banners
  3. VAUDE upcycling workshop: Throwing away is a waste
  4. VAUDEProfessional: Backpacks made from used BASF workwear
Frau mit Upcycling-Rucksack in der Stadt.Frau mit Upcycling-Rucksack in der Stadt.
Upcycling is unique and always an eye-catcher! Image: Martin Erd

Why upcycling?

Even when designing new products, we make sure to generate as little cutting waste as possible. This means that a jacket can have an eye-catching seam on the back, for example. This is the only way to make ideal use of the fabric and produce less waste. Nevertheless, cutting remnants cannot be completely avoided. This remnant material is valuable. It is as good as new and neither used, contaminated or otherwise inferior in any way. A lot of working time, energy and raw material goes into it. But even materials that have already been used are often far too good to throw away. This is where we come in. And you can join in!

Produktmanagerin am PC optimiert die Schnitttechnik.Produktmanagerin am PC optimiert die Schnitttechnik.
Carmen Fischetti, product manager for cutting technology, checks the cuts for the best possible material efficiency. Image: VAUDE

DIY upcycling ideas: Do good with homemade gifts!

Gifts don't always have to be consumer items. Homemade gifts are individual and very special. Imagine you could make your loved ones happy with a homemade unique item made from textile scraps - without having to produce anything new for it. You can!

Use leftover fabrics or get some fabric scraps. In our eBay upcycling store we auction DIY material boxes with instructions or leftover boxes for a good cause.

You can find the instructions as PDF at the end of the post.

Upcycling Rucksack und Umhängetasche neben DIY-MaterialienUpcycling Rucksack und Umhängetasche neben DIY-Materialien
Ready packed box with DIY material boxes provide sewing fun. Image: VAUDE

Doing good for Save the Children

We're donating the proceeds from the DIY campaign to Save the Children. The organization has been working for the protection and rights of children worldwide since 1919 and provides, among other things, humanitarian aid, health care, education or protection from violence and exploitation.

So with your DIY gift, you're not only doing good for the planet, but also for its children. Save the Children receives the proceeds from our ebay upcycling sales throughout the year. We only charge for our own costs - and those are already covered with the shipping.

Ingeniously packaged - Furoshiki with VAUDE decorative banners

Furoshiki is the art of wrapping gifts or everyday items in fabric. Furoshiki is actually a rectangular cloth that has been used in Japan for centuries as a sling, bag and protective wrapping. Furoshiki translates roughly to "bath towel" - the Japanese used the cloths in traditional bathhouses to store their clothes, among other things. In Japan, for example, furoshiki are often printed with colorful patterns.

This is not the only reason why furoshiki are perfect for personal and creative upcycling. Instead of a traditional furoshiki fabric, you can use our colorful VAUDE decorative banners, for example, which are available free of charge or for a small contribution towards expenses in VAUDE stores. Just ask on the spot!

Throwing away is a waste: The VAUDE upcycling workshop

Upcycling is not only a good idea for gift giving. That's why we have a permanent upcycling workshop. founded in 2016 as part of a pilot project with csr report VAUDE refugees and funded by the German Federal Foundation for the Environment, it is now an integral part of our manufactory at the company headquarters in Obereisenbach. The material scraps that are left over from the production of backpacks and waterproof bicycle bags, as well as from other places in the company, are not disposed of but used. This creates truly unique items, such as two different shopper bags of different sizes, which have been regularly available in the VAUDE Stores and - Outlets .

VAUDE Mitarbeiter*innen an der NähmaschineVAUDE Mitarbeiter*innen an der Nähmaschine
The VAUDE upcycling workshop emerged in 2016 from a pilot project with refugees. Image: VAUDE

Another very practical product made from leftover material are the approximately 5,000 cuffs for cycling that were produced from tarpaulin remnants in Obereisenbach in 2022. They ensure that your pant leg does not come into contact with the chain while riding your bike. No oil and dirt stains on your pant leg means less washing and less damage, which is better for the environment.

In addition, the upcycling workshop creates, for example, practical, small bags for sewing utensils for our cooperation partner iFixit (read more about repairing instead of throwing away here) or employee Christmas gifts.

VAUDE Mitarbeiterin bei der Musterentwicklung an der NähmaschineVAUDE Mitarbeiterin bei der Musterentwicklung an der Nähmaschine
Claudia Reimann is responsible for patterning and production in the upcycling workshop. Image: VAUDE

Upcycling anchored throughout the company

In addition to seamstresses, employees from the design, product management, technology and corporate development departments are also part of our upcycling team. This ensures that the numerous opportunities for upcycling are anchored throughout the company and can be fully utilized. The shipping bags of our new VAUDE Rent rental service (in german), for example, come from in-house upcycling. The banners that sales staff need for sales meetings are turned into practical bags. And what the team of the upcycling workshop cannot use themselves, e.g. because the quantities are too small, is sold via the eBay upcycling store, like the Christmas boxes, for the benefit of Save the Children. And because this is a good idea, more and more partner companies and suppliers like Sympatex or Kaya & Kato are already joining in.

Versandtasche aus Upcycling-PlanenmaterialVersandtasche aus Upcycling-Planenmaterial
Our rental service "VAUDE Rent" uses shipping bags from the VAUDE upcycling workshop. Image: VAUDE

VAUDE Professional: Backpacks made from used workwear

Arbeiter mit Blaumann und er daraus entstandene RucksackArbeiter mit Blaumann und er daraus entstandene Rucksack
New backpack made from worn BASF workwear. Image: VAUDE

However, products made from upcycling processes are not only interesting for environmentally conscious consumers* or as Christmas gifts in one's own company. For corporate customers, they can be a way to save not only ecological but also economic resources - in other words, costs. This is where VAUDE Professional comes in. The motto of our Corporate Wear & Sonderanfertigungen -Department reads, "Custom Textile Products Made to Your Specifications." Here, sustainable, high-quality and innovative textile products are developed and manufactured for industrial and corporate customers, government agencies or other institutional buyers according to individual needs.

In many cases, we produce new goods - but not only. Two years ago, we started an upcycling project with BASF. At that time, BASF was looking for a solution for used employee clothing. With BASF recycle waste tires for use in outdoor clothing. In a new upcycling project, we are breathing new life into used BASF workwear in the form of a compact everyday backpack with a laptop compartment and a gym bag. BASF employees receive both. The effort involved is relatively high, as every single piece of raw material has to be examined and processed. But the effort is definitely worth it: The product has already won an award at BASF.

Interest aroused? Become part of a growing upcycling movement!

If you want to learn more about upcycling, take a look at our VAUDE sustainability report. Many other exciting projects are presented there. In many cities there are now also pure upcycling stores that exclusively sell upcycled products. Upcycling and DIY communities like on facebook give you additional inspiration on your way to make something very useful out of supposedly useless things.

Zwei Passant*innen am Schaufenster eines Upcycling-StoresZwei Passant*innen am Schaufenster eines Upcycling-Stores
Upcycling stores like this one in Amsterdam offer many unusual products Image: VAUDE

Individual products made from leftover materials:

Tips for a more sustainable life

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