Upcycling is a great, low cost way to be environmentally friendly. Occasionally it has the added bonus of making whatever project you're working on sound really, really cool. When Nick Orso of Urban Engineers built his tiny cabin with old skateboards, he was basically guaranteed a bit of a wow factor, not matter what the results. Lucky enough for him, the whole thing ended up looking pretty, pretty good.
Set up just outside of Philly and perched next to a historic mansion, Orso is enjoying the fruits of his DIY labor. The mobile cabin was built from upcycled materials whenever possible, including a horse trough as a shower frame and using old skateboards throughout. Other environmentally friendly elements can be found inside, including a composting toilet, tankless water heater and it is solar panel ready.
While Orso works for Urban Engineers, he's usually on the management side, so the project was a bit of an adventure for him. But by using a tool he was comfortable with, Microsoft Excel, he was able to come up with the plans for the house easily. "All I did was pick a scale where the rows and the columns were the same and there's your grid." He told the Urban Engineers blog, "for some of my drawings I made [the grid to] a foot or an inch and then when you zoom out and print it on 11x17 it looks like a plan — it's to scale."