Although for a while the “fail blog of hand crafts,” Regretsy, stole my attention away from the grandaddy of online handmade marketplaces, Etsy, I think I’ve been sufficiently WTF’d out and I can return my attention to the good stuff featured on the real thing. That said, an overwhelming majority of the handcrafted items for sale on Etsy are of exceptional quality, frequently eco-friendly, and often featured in product roundups on this blog. But when they’re bad, good lord are they awful.

Given that a lot of the non-awful goods for sale on Etsy are made from repurposed/recycled materials, it’s excellent to see the website partnered with NBC Universal’s Green is Universal initiative for the Art of Reuse design competition. The contest, which launched earlier this week, is open to the general public and not just Etsy sellers or DIY-savvy shoppers. NBC Universal describes it as a “competition for consumers to create handcrafted items out of purely repurposed materials.” Here’s hoping none of these handcrafted items wind up on Regretsy.

From now until until April 8, inspired crafters can submit videos or photos of their upcycled creations to the Art of Reuse website under five main categories: Home Décor, Fashion, Jewelry, Toys, Games & Gadgets, and Pets. From April 9-15, the public will have the chance to pick their favorite projects through online voting. After that, the 10 submissions with the highest number of public votes will go before a panel of celebrity judges who select the three big winners.

The grand prize is an all-expenses trip to Universal Studios Florida, which seems a bit random for a reuse-centric design competition. But hey, it’s NBC Universal. Plus, everyone who votes online for their favorite project is automatically entered to win a $500 Etsy shopping spree.

The Art of Reuse's panel of celebrity judges includes a woman who knows a good craft project when she sees one, Martha Stewart, Tori Spelling (!), "Real Housewives" wrangler Andy Cohen, Angela Matusik of iVillage, FEED Projects’ Lauren Bush, and last but not least, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. Quite the lineup.

This year, the theme of Green is Universal’s Earth Week festivities (read about my Earth Week tour of NBC Studios at 30 Rock here) revolves around reuse. According to a Green is Universal research poll, one in two survey respondents said they’d be willing to shell out more for products that have multiple functions while 75 percent of respondents said they’d rather find a new use for something than trash it. Sixty-seven percent of respondents claimed they're reusing and recycling around the house (reusing water bottles, repurposing potential trash, etc.) much more actively than they did three years ago.

Head on over to Green is Universal’s “ReUser Guide” to learn more about the competitionand read the fine print. Have a nifty project you’d like to share? By all means, submit it. And come April 9, don’t forget to vote for your favorite submission. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

An Earth Week 'art' project from Etsy
Etsy and NBC Universal team up for The Art of Reuse, a upcycling design competition. Submissions will be voted on by the public ... and by Kathie Lee Gifford.