How did I get into this whole upcycling thing? (or "Accidental Sustainability")

I don’t remember when I first heard the word “upcycled”. I probably laughed and muttered something about hipster trends, not thinking much of it. 

Like most of us, I’ve grown up in a world driven by consumerism and I developed a healthy addiction to that buzz we get from going out in search of more stuff and more things! Gimme Gimme Gimme!

Upcycling was certainly not something I immediately identified with.

One Friday night in late 2012, I was polishing off the last of the Gin and before binning the empty bottle, it’s emerald green glow caught my eye and I paused to admire it.  

It was Tanqueray Gin, their 750ml London Dry bottle, the now-famous Tanqueray family crest “pineapple” emblem front and centre. What a beautiful design.  Such thick glass.  Such a rich colour and shine.

Why was I throwing it out? Had it’s usefulness really passed?

Discarding the bottle felt unexpectedly wasteful and so I didn’t throw it out.  I kept in on the bench for weeks, staring it down each time I passed, wondering where it was made, how much work went into creating it, who designed it, what made the glass so green, but mostly I asked, what could I do with it to extend it’s life and make use of it’s still beautiful contours and colours. 

I stuck flowers in the top.  I used it as a water jug. I put it where the kitchen downlight would fill it with light.

But it was not versatile enough.

What if I could just use the bottom half of the bottle?  Cut the top off?

So began my investigation into bottle cutting techniques.  


I tried soaking string in lighter fluid and wrapping it around a bottle then setting it on fire - absolute disaster!  I considered paying someone to cut it but that wouldn’t satisfy the need to flex my creative muscles.

I exercised my Google finger in search for bottle cutting devices.  Eventually I settled on one that looked easy enough and I ordered it.  

2 weeks later it arrived and I got to work.  I broke a lot of bottles. I cut every finger.  And I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

But most of all, I began to see bottles as something more than just a place to keep my Gin. I saw them as an opportunity. As a resource. 

The difference between trash and treasure is often just our perspective.  

I began to seek out beautiful bottles.  I asked my friends to save their empties. And I changed my buying habits - If it didn’t come in a beautiful glass bottle, I didn’t want it. 

My laundry adopted the look of a inner city share house, post-longweekend; bottles everywhere.  

I was developing an obsession. And it was really exciting. 

From there I honed my craft, expanded to beer and spirit bottles, and began to consider whether others would appreciate my upcycled creations.

Undeniably, fashion and trends contribute to what our minds perceive as beautiful but even at a purely functional level, how much of what we throw away every day could serve a second purpose? If we just stopped to consider the possibilities. 

My creative pursuit with Twice Drunk has challenged me to think and live with a stronger focus on sustainability.  

I want this for all of us. 

Dan Wilson