Artists Upcycle Trash Into Treasures For Gardens and Balconies

November 11, 2013 by


As a lover of sustainable design, gardening, and environmentally friendly practices, I was excited when Nathan Devine reached out to me about Retrash, his community project dedicated to reducing landfill by recycling, repurposing, and upcycling trash into useful and decorative wares. 

Anu Tandon Vieira from The Retyrement Plan creates seating by wrapping colorful plastic around old tires.  

Devine, from the Blue Mountains in Australia, has spent the last three years creating a community of worldwide designers and artistisans who are creatively rethinking waste, transforming it into all kinds of innovative products.

More than 80 of these crafty and environmentally conscious makers will be featured in Retrash, his new book about this global project.


Devine’s Retrash concept brings the whole upcycling and recycling movement and their works to a wider audience, an effort to inspire those of us who wish to get more involved. Mood_Rocking_Bed_by_Shiner-using-recycled-materials
Joe Manus from Atlanta, Georgia makes benches and this cool rocking bed from recycled materials.

Retrash features artisans from as far away as Africa and Thailand who mix it up with creatives from Australia, Europe and the USA, resulting in both functional and decorative works that reduce landfill and provide hope and inspiration for a more sustainable planet.


Robyn Stewardson of Melbourne Australia creates garden ornaments from kitchenware.

The TOUCH Initiative in Africa makes rugby balls from repurposed billboards, while Phairote Thanomwong in Thailand handcrafts sculptures from recycled metal. In New York’s Hudson Valley, Ben Miller creates linoleum art that would dress up any wall indoors or out.


I admit, I’m lusting for one of artist Wim Delvoye’s intricately sculpted old tires–would look great in my garden!

Retrash features many appealing works, but I am particularly drawn to those items for use in the garden or on a balcony. And I’m impressed by the ingenuity.

From birdhouses and garden decor made from upcycled kitchenwares, funky stools fabricated from repurposed skateboard decks, to a cool rocking bed, Devine’s book offers a lot of eye candy and inspires me to ponder what I too might create from such commonly discarded items.


Brian Carlisle of Shreveport, Louisiana repurposes old kitchenware into birdhouses. (That’s one of his birdhouses, top of post.)


Jason Podlaski from Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania makes stools made from discarded skateboard decks.

To get an idea of the imaginative uses for otherwise wasted objects, take a peek at the Retrash website where you’ll find Old Mill Factory’s chicken coop made from recycled wood pallets and reclaimed windows, and the Das Park Hotel whose guests reside in repurposed drain pipes, below. 



For the last three years Devine has self-funded the book’s development, but with todays launch of his Kickstarter campaign, he’s ready to share the project with the rest of us hoping to raise funds for the book’s production. 


Printed on on 100% recycled matte art paper, Retrash will be a high quality soft cover coffee table book showcasing the work of more than 80 artists and creative thinkers worldwide.


These inspirational life stories demonstrate how we can all reduce landfill by thinking creatively about waste. You know, one person’s trash is another person’s garden furniture or decor–like Barcelona, Spain’s Lucia Bruni who crafts sustainable candle lanterns from recycled Italian Prosecco bottles, below. 


Visit the Retrash website at to find out more about the projects and designers involved.

You can support this creative environmental effort by visiting Retrash’s Kickstarter page.


  1. Brian of said:

    Thanks so much for the spotlight on this great book. All the artists are anxious to see this book succeed on Kickstarter!

    — November 13, 2013 @ 10:59

  2. Robin Horton said:

    You’re welcome Brian, I loved your wares!

    — November 13, 2013 @ 14:34

  3. Brian of said:

    Thanks so much Robin! I’d love to get a spotlight on your wonderful site. Let me know if there’s ever anything I can do for you. Thx!

    — November 13, 2013 @ 17:31

  4. Robin Horton said:

    I will!

    — November 23, 2013 @ 03:23

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