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Recycled Musical Instruments | Say What?

Recycled Musical Instruments

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you start to think about the trillion of things we need to change.

Ode, to save our world. Trashing the environment, killing our bees and butterflies, putting tons of toxins in our food, air and water supply; the list goes on and on.

Ode, we must save our world. Save our fish, save our whales, stop slaughtering our orangutans, eliminate GMO’s, eradicate fracking, recycle, upcycle; oh my. Oh my, my!

I get dizzy sometimes just thinking about the many ways we destroy our planet. And yes, I often feel helpless. I fear that our children and grandchildren will have no future, no planet to live on. Now mind you, I am a very positive thinker, always an optimist. But let’s face it people, our world is in really bad shape! Yes, it may be overwhelming, but if we All do our part (anything), then this world might stand a chance.

So my contribution in helping save our planet is to eliminate all toxins from my life, educate others on sustainable living, plant and save non-GMO seed, ride or walk everywhere (I have never owned a driver’s license, really), write ‘green’ articles’ and always recycle.  So tell me, what are your contributions?

On the Lighter Side

Talk about upcycling; Recycled Musical Instruments are the talk of the world. Now I’m sure that you’ve heard about the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra. If not, here is a great article on a very uplifting story Upcycled Instruments of Cateura, Paraguay.

A recycled musical instrument is all about utilizing the massive waste from our landfills. It’s the new upcycle. Now I don’t know if you remember or even heard about the upcycle craze.

Upcycling is seizing something old or damaged, and making it beautiful or useful again. It’s a growing universal trend that embraces fashion, jewelry, déco, house furnishings  and more. In fact, the trend has stimulated many new upcycled businesses like Hipcycle; their mission is to help address the global waste problem through upcycling. Like they say “We recognize that waste is a global problem and our products reflect this philosophy.”

recycled musical instruments art

Upcycle vs. Recycle

In truth, recycled musical instruments are upcycling, not recycling. When you recycle, you take a consumer product like paper or metal and break it down to its base so that it can be remade into a new consumer product. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all about recycling. In contrast, when you upcycle an item, you do not break down the item but rather refashion it into something beautiful or useful.

Recycled musical instruments are made from a variety of things you might find at home or in a landfill. Some of the materials often  include coffee cans, plastic water bottles, cardboard boxes, old paint cans, oven trays, bottle caps, paperclips  and glass bottles.

People Making a Difference

Len Solomon comes to mind when I think about recycled musical instruments. He is a one man show who creates music from instruments made from reclaimed trash. Solomon has been performing his variety show for over 20 years now. He plays his recycled musical instruments, does comedy and juggles all in one show. Hats off to you Len!



Formed in 2004, the musical group CanUnDrum consists of 3 drummers that create unique melodies from unusual ‘so-called’ trash. The amazing tunes come from upcycled pots and pans, 55-gallon buckets and PVC pipes. The percussion group plays a variety of metrical tunes from high energy Brazilian to Hip Hop.

The TRASH Music Projects is a talented organization that creates upcycled musical instruments across Scotland, England, Europe and beyond.  For over 15 years, the small charity group has made opportunities for all ages (5 to 105) to be creative.  TRASH Music Projects turns scrap and garbage into bells, drums and percussion.  Moreover, they use landfill resources to create graphic images and to decorate their recycled musical instruments. Their instruments include giant xylophones, car wheel bells, 40 gallon barrel drums and batphones (large tuned pipes that create different notes when hit by a bat).

Kenneth Lee “Ken” Butler is an artist, musician and builder of recycled musical instruments. He is known worldwide as a visionary of novel musical instruments created from a variety of materials like household items, tools and sports equipment. Some of the upcycled items include paper clips, hockey sticks, umbrellas and combs. He has been performing in theatres, galleries, clubs, and festivals since 1978. His worked has also been appraised by the Smithsonian, The New York Times, Sculpture Magazine, Artforum and The Village Voice. Moreover, Butler has been featured on the Tonight Show, PBS, NBC, CNN and MTV.



Recycled Musical Instruments | Say What Again?/

Picture Credit

Featured picture:tortipede via photopin cc
Building an upcycled musical instrument: Mooganic via photopin cc


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