While a lot of thought (and advertising) goes into alerting buyers where the coffee they drink comes from, not a whole lot is said about the coffee filters used to brew it. Vilma Farrell, a Brazilian journalist living in New York City has come up with an ingenious and unique way to recycle, or upcycle these filters. She makes lampshades out of used coffee filters.


To get the materials, Farrell collects used coffee filters from the local Starbucks in her neighborhood. She likes to work with Starbucks filters, because they use larger, industrial sized ones. These are already stained by the coffee, though she also uses water-based paints to create a more colorful final product. She applies these colors by hand.


Next, she cuts the filters into strips, and weaves these into a pre-made cut wire frame. Each lampshade she makes is a one-of–a-kind handcrafted piece, and it takes her about 11 days to make a single one. But once the switch is turned on, and one sees the gorgeous interplay of subtly colored lights filtering through the shade, most would call the effort worth it. The lamps resemble traditional stained glass pendant lamps, while at the same time retaining a more rustic, homemade look.



Her company is called Lampada, and she started making these lampshades back in 2011 as a creative hobby. Today, her lamps can be seen in restaurants and homes across the US.

This is definitely one of the more unique and aesthetic ideas for recycling materials, which are abundant yet don’t have an immediate secondary use. With the amount of waste we produce, it’s always nice to see people finding creative ways of turning trash into treasure.