How to ‘up-cycle’ (by my brother)

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2013 at 9:44 am



My big brother Nick (above, pulling a stupid face, but it was better than the picture where he’s asleep and one of his sons has written ‘Muppet’ on his forehead in felt tip…), is a natural born up cycler.

In childhood his greatest joy was to cycle – on the bicycle he had turned into a ‘chopper’ with the addition of ape-hanger handle bars – to the scrap merchant at the end of the road and spend a few hours just looking at the junk. He just loved bits of old stuff.

He still does and now entertains himself weekends and evenings building things out of the ‘treasures’ he liberates from skips, charms from builders and buys on eBay.

He recently posted this guide to up-cycling on Facebook:


How to ‘up-cycle’ by Nick Alderson

1. Skips have amazing things in them. And the things have been chucked out.
2. Industrial estates have loads of skips.
3. If you see something that could be ‘useful’ try and find the owners of the skip and ask if you can have it.
4. Be polite but not over enthusiastic or they might want to sell it to you as they think it might be worth something.
5. If you have to shift stuff to get the item out of the skip. Put all the rubbish back in. Don’t leave a mess.
6. Thank them.
7. Take the stuff home.
8. Build.
9. Get told, ‘If you think that is staying there, forget it.’
10. Dismantle and shove in garage.
11. Do something else.

His current main project is making this:


What is it? Why, it’s a beer cooler in the style of the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Of course it is.

His plan, one hot summer Sunday afternoon, is it to fill it with beer, lace it with dry ice, and have it carried on to a crowded Bournemouth beach by a team of native bearers (various nieces and nephews…) and open it, to the amazement of passers by.

I’m hoping it will be more successful than his idea for an anti-car theft deterrent, which was a pool of fake sick he made out of plastic and would then leave on his car seat…

  1. We recently cleared 3 tvs from my brothers room, his most recent hard rubbish finds, none of them worked, but he was thinking if he amalgamated he might have one functioning tv. What planet do these lovable idiots come from?

  2. Your brother is Adorable and looks like a cool guy so I can only say – The Dude has mad skillz.

  3. I thought it was some kind of mausoleum, but delighted to know it is actually a beer cooler, I am an Aussie girl!
    I used to put lipstick around the milk carton’s spout to stop people thieving my milk – it seemed to work. So, I am right on board with the plastic vomit.

  4. Ho, so funny! I love to skip dive. I have often found useful stuff left outside house’s with notes saying Please take. A wonderful heavy wooden tray, and a half moon wooden console table are two of the treasures I have rescued.

  5. Maggie, I remember Nick. He was a cool guy to your 17 year old girlfriends I can tell you. I used to go bright red in his presence! How funny it is to see him now, acting just like my husband who totally believes in creating new out of old despite my calling him Fred Flintstone for some of his, shall we just say, less than elegant, creations!

  6. haha, I like him. Does he happen to be unclaimed in a skip himself by any chance?

  7. I peer in every skip I pass only to slope away, my hopes dashed once more as they are usually filled with builder’s rubble, decaying plastic garden furniture and sundry 1970s bathroom accoutrements….in short, nothing to get creative juices working!
    If the Ark Beer Cooler was born in a skip then I must be in the wrong area!!! Mad idea – love it! Wish I could witness the event.
    Nick – you are an inspiration to us all….(by the way – love the pic)

  8. What a dude! He is lovely. And I bet he has the best stocked shed around.

    Husband dear gets worried whenever I spot a skip or a council chuck out. I don’t do it much now, but in the old days we did score some little gems: Victorian cedar hall table, sundry oak chests, the famous Edwardian oak wicker sided “comfy chair” (when we were living on the smell of an oily rag in Bondi all our friends would dive for that particular chair parked on the back verandah).

    My favourite find though was on the back of a truck. We’d just bought our first house and on the way home from signing up spotted an old pine meat safe rattling around on a pile of rubbish. We flagged the truck down, and offered them $20 (the only cash we had with us). 20 years later it still does duty in our bathroom.

  9. I have an in house up cycler but he finds stuff people have left out by the side of the road. He’s restored several toys for neighbours’ children. A little yellow car which got a second life. And then there was a perfectly good bicycle which went to a needy child. But he calls it gleaning. Evelyn

  10. Just remember to have plenty of ventilation around dry ice, ie,open all the car windows, it produces carbon monoxide which can cause asphyxiation in a confined space

  11. Left you the wrong email address accidentally now correct

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