Up-Cycling Ideas for your Street Food Outlet

 In Blog, Blogs

“Together we can up-cycle everything. The world will be better for our positive visions and actions.”

William McDonough

With the market space rapidly changing alongside an unpredictable economy, the global population has become increasingly aware of what may be considered “essential.” The upside to this is that it provides an opportunity for an expansion of thought, in the sense that creative solutions are generally born from challenge. In the context of the financial challenges faced by small businesses, this would mean looking at creative ways to reduce expenditure. One of the best ways to do this, would be with big ticket items such as the materials used to create an eye-catching stand.

The definition of up-cycling is “to reuse discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.” There are no limitations as to the creativity that may emerge from unknown spaces, and as fortune may have it, up-cycling is still on fleek. This golden opportunity of saving money whilst simultaneously updating your brand, only requires an open mind and basic DIY skills. While dumpster diving should definitely be avoided during the pandemic (and generally) there are an infinite array of opportunities for sourcing free materials legally.

Up-cycling will instantly present your store as eco-friendly, and when done professionally, will give your stand a sophisticated edge. Through the fog of quarantine limitations, a light can be seen in the advantages of the digital age. The internet is a valuable resource, presenting infinite ideas and even step by step guidelines that can be accessed at the click of a button. As a result, it is possible to take the art of DIY to world class levels, while dramatically reducing costs. Whether you wish to upgrade your stand entirely, or are simply looking for a way to disguise a damaged surface, up-cycling presents a solution.

While it may seem eccentric, you might very well notice an old item of furniture on the curbside that could potentially change your world. More importantly, you will be contributing to the literal world, by re-using existing materials (which preserves natural resources). Up-cycling is a truly progressive concept, and in the future we will be seeing it more and more often. So, to get you started on the journey of revamping and repurposing, here is a comprehensive list of cost effective up-cycling techniques that are currently trending.

Trendy Plant Décor for Your Stand

With the current trends towards green living, plants have become a fashion statement. One of the most beautiful and organic ways of taking your stand to the next level, would be to decorate it with plants. Hanging baskets in particular can be used to frame your outlet, instantly highlighting your sustainable brand. These can be created by up-cycling nearly anything, including old lamp shades, metal colanders and buckets or woven baskets – depending what you have on hand. You even may want to browse through the online classifieds to see what is available and take it from there.


Once you have sourced your baskets, you can restore them according to their material, and choose a hanging device to match. For baskets, a simple braided rope made from hemp could be made and attached with ease. For buckets and colanders, small chains found at a hardware store might work better. The next step would be to visit the local nursery to locate the perfect pots and plants. When hanging your plants, it’s a good idea to experiment with different heights so as to create an organic feel. Bear in mind that you will need to water them, so ease of access is advisable.

Beautiful Vintage Signage

A simple tip for updating signage is to source a few retro frames, from either a mirror or an artwork. When it comes to the vintage trend, the more ornate the frame the more attention it will draw. You may wish to frame an existing sign, or to frame a chalk boards that could be updated daily with an uplifting quote A vintage frame can take your daily menu to the next level, or showcase your business with a meaningful photograph. Frames hold the potential to carry through your brand story, which could be read by customers as they wait.

No matter what you choose to frame, all you need to do is remove the original contents and restore it as needed. Gold is a very popular vintage color, but it is a good idea to focus on carrying through your existing theme. It is amazing what a simple coat of paint and varnish can do, but be sure to take note of what works for your surface material. Once you have the measurements, you can arrange for the signage, as well as a means to display it. The wonderful thing about freestanding signage is that it can be propped up anywhere, without rearranging your setup.

Up-cycling Furniture for the Future

Now that the lockdown restrictions are lifting, customers may soon be free to enjoy a socially-distanced seat at your stand. This may attract a whole new category of clientele, given that numerous individuals will be interested in the luxury of a social experience. To prepare for this, it might be a good idea to invest in a few second-hand bar stools, which can be sanded and repainted or varnished. If you are looking to save time in this venture, then it is advisable to opt for items that do not require upholstering. While this can be learnt and achieved, upholstering is an art form that requires more advanced DIY skills.

However, if you have a vision or specific resources on hand, re-upholstering a bar stool should be manageable with a staple gun. Alternatively, you could investigate the pricing options of professionals in your area, and weigh up the costs accordingly. The key to finding a unique solution that will fit your needs is to identify your goal, and evaluate your options. By learning to view every object as a raw material, you can begin to see options where before you saw nothing. Up-cycling is all about repurposing, and so you may want to look at your existing resources from a different angle.

Wooden Pallets for Eco-Friendly Practicality

In the world of up-cycling and sustainable living, pallets are nearly as trendy as plants and vintage! Due to their basic linear construction, they can easily be dismantled as a source of up-cycled wood. Pallets present a wide array of options, from creating tables and chairs to paneling your stand, the pallet is known and loved for its eco-friendly abilities. There are numerous design plans online with exact measurements for pallet furniture, and all you would need in addition is a few basic tools, sandpaper and sealant.


There are even methods of creating bar stools with pallets, for a quick update of seating options. Another idea that would pair well with pallets is to construct an external recycling bin from the wooden slats. As pallets have become somewhat iconic in sustainable circles, this would immediately grab the attention of the organic crowd. Pallets can be used for nearly every need, and can be found both online and in building stores. Whether you require a shelf or a counter replacement, pallets are an affordable eco-friendly option.

Quirky Repurposed Décor

upcycling-clear-glass-bottle-with-solar-powered-fairy-lights-at-sunsetWhen it comes to up-cycling, it is an art designed to bring wonder to the viewer, and sometimes the more bizarre the more memorable. There are numerous examples of weird and wonderful décor to be found, many of which are simple to put together. Among the many options, popular choices include filling clear glass bottles with solar powered fairy lights. This can be just as beautiful in the day as at night, and may give your store an advantage over your green competitors. These can even be hung from the roof of your stand, and needn’t be one shape or size.

Another trend that links to the plant theme is to re-use teapots, teacups or vintage tins as pot plants. Coffee stands in particular would benefit from this, and to pull this off successfully, it is best to use a delicate items of various shapes and sizes. By placing an arrangement of these on your counter, it creates a harmonious and modern atmosphere. These plants need not be high maintenance either, and a collection of small cactuses might be worth looking into. The more you can make your stand look like a tropical paradise, the closer you are to nailing the trend.

Retro biscuit tins and vinyl are also popular choices for décor, and can be used in a number of different ways. Pioneers in the up-cycling movement frequently use the lids of retro biscuit tins as wall décor, while vinyls are often used as table tops. When creating a surface with vinyls, it is generally done in conjunction with silicone. Silicone itself is a very useful tool that can take your DIY projects to sophisticated levels.

Eye-Catching Mosaic Surfaces

Depending on the size of your stand or outlet, you may want to look into mosaicing your countertops. Mosaic is among the most affordable ways to up-cycle, given that tile and mirror stores will freely distribute their off cuts or broken stock. By visiting a few stores in one day, you can gather an array of different colored tiles and an abundance of mirror. You will need to purchase tile adhesive and grout, as well as a tile-clipper, which are inexpensive and can be found in your local hardware store. It is important to take note of the width of your tiles versus your mirror, so as to create an even surface.


If your mirror and tiles are different widths, consider creating a border from either material so that the central area maintains practical function. With that in mind, feel free to browse Pinterest or other online sources of inspiration for patterns and designs. Mosaicing is such a useful up-cycling technique, as it can transform any surface, disguising cracks or chipped wood. It is also incredibly durable and will stand the test of time. If you really want your outlet to stand out, you could even mosaic the external walls of your store for a dazzling bohemian aesthetic.

The Benefits of Up-cycling

According to The Independent, the worth of unused items in the average UK household wastes £9051 per year on items that remain unused. This poll was conducted from a survey of 2000 adults, of which a fifth confessed to impulsive spending. The good news for food vendors is that £2026 was attributed to food and beverages! While the poll mainly looked at categories such as beauty products and clothing, it is a reflection of the modern consumer culture, which is damaging the environment. The fact of the matter is that there are an abundance of unused items in existence, just waiting to be repurposed.

One of the first references to the term ‘up-cycling’ is attributed to Reiner Pilz, a progressive architect who was quoted in the Salvo News in 1994. He is reported to have made the following statement in reference to the recycling process “What we need is up-cycling, where old products are given more value, not less.” Up-cycling holds the rare potential for a win-win situation, where the environment is protected, costs are saved, and goals are achieved. Additionally, green-customers will notice and love the aesthetic, adding to your popularity and brand narrative.

There are endless ideas to be found and explored when it comes to up-cycling, all depending on your budget and creativity levels. Entire stands have been fashioned from caravans, bicycles and shipping containers, creating a quirky yet modern feel. When it comes to sustainable trends, up-cycling and vintage go hand in hand, as both are in line with repurposing. The sky is the limit, so as you delve into the realm of up-cycling keep these tips in mind, and you could revamp your entire stand by tomorrow afternoon!

Take me to the EcoToGo shop


  • https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-lockdown
  • https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/AMoeAtLDHf3v3LYy2yZQyH/How-upcycling-can-help-make-our-homes-and-hearts-lighter.html
  • https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/household-waste-thousands-pounds-food-beauty-products-phone-contracts-a8742306.html

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