Painted D.C. Upcycle

"Trashy Treasures" Bag

It’s Not a Bottle (yay)

During last week’s outdoor adventure, I navigated main roads and neighborhood side streets as I searched off-script for D.C.’s lesser-known mural artwork. One of these large-scale paintings dresses up the side of the last of a row of modest brick and mortar townhomes. If you look closely, you can find the mural’s inlaid message: “every DAY I See SOME THING NEW.”  If you missed last week’s “Painted D.C.” outdoor adventure featuring this and other murals, you can find it here: Painted D.C. outdoor adventure.

Below this mural, is a small green space, perhaps 20 x 30 feet, that’s raised a couple feet from the sidewalk. For obvious reasons, this green island in a mostly concrete jungle is a favorite spot for the family dog. I gingerly navigated the grass as I set out to clean the area of trash.

Among the items I collected were wrappers, bottles and caps, and the unfortunate remains of a what appears to have been a gull (fleshy feathers and a picked-clean skull). At the edge of the green space was a chain link fence, and on the other side, in a pile of leaves, I found the “trashy treasure” for this week’s upcycle! I pulled it through the links and into my trash bag.


It took me a day or two to develop an upcycle plan for this week’s episode. This woven plastic bag was worn and dirty, but it was hearty too. I first imagined creating a banner with my own mural artwork to hang in my backyard. Ultimately, I decided to leave the bag intact and create something functional…with a pop of colora “trashy treasures” collection bag!

This upcycle was better left to a plan, rather than the freestyle method I use with some of my other upcycles. A graphic designer by trade, I used Photoshop to mock up artwork for my project. (You can certainly sketch your artwork plan on paper.) And, of course, I had to incorporate the Ecopsyched! tree logo. Tune in (episode below) to see how the proposed artwork translated to the finished “trashy treasures” bag.

Challenging Materials

This plastic bag did not play nicely during upcycling. The acrylic paint chipped away easily as the bag refused to absorb the pigment. It’s weatherproof after all, so it was just doing its job.

I worked with the material patiently, adding layer after layer of paint on the surface. The longer I gave it to dry, the more steadfast it became. I created make-shift grommets with Gorilla tape around the top of the bag. Then, I sprayed the bag with an acrylic varnish to give it a layer of protection against dings and weather. To finish the project, I threaded a dismantled dog leash (from Dollar Tree!) through the grommet holes to create a drawstring.

This discarded bag came to life, and I was relieved and tickled with the outcome. It’s not perfect, but this “trashy treasures” bag will assist me on the trails during trash clean-up and save many, many kitchen bags from the landfill. I declare victory!

I hope you’ll join me for this Ecopsyched! upcycle adventure in the video below and find inspiration for your own trash repurposing.

Your Opinion

I’d like to know what you think. Would you use an Ecopsyched! “trashy treasures” bag to clean the trails you visit? Would you go on “trashy treasure” scavenger hunts with your kids and upcycle your finds into funky art? Please let me know in the comments below!

Thank you for joining me on this and future Ecopsyched! adventures. I sure do love your company.  🙂

-Lisa B

My Video Gear

Art Materials

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Painted D.C. Upcycle: Copyright © Lisa Barry 2021.

Two Little Bums by The Great North Sound Society
Land of My Fathers by The 126ers
Spring Fling by TrackTribe
There Are Chirping Birdies in My Soul by Reed Mathis
Valerie Plain by Rondo Brothers

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