What is upcycling?

Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. For example:

  • Upcycling gives an item a better purpose. An old coffee table, possibly with wear-and-tear in the form of scratches, can be repaired, repainted and often repurposed so that it is better and, often, more beautiful.
  • Upcycling gives items a new life and prevents them going to landfill. Upcycling is good for you, your pocket and your planet!
Recycling versus Upcycling

Recycling takes consumer materials — mostly plastic, paper, metal and glass — and breaks them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality.

When you upcycle an item, you aren’t breaking down the materials. You may be refashioning it — like cutting a t-shirt into strips of material — but it’s still made of the same materials as when you started. Also, the upcycled item is typically better or the same quality as the original.

Upcycling is nothing new!

Upcycling is not a new concept. Some of the best examples of modern-day upcycling come from the 1930s - 1940s when families had very little economic or material resources. In this age of thrift, they reused almost everything, repurposing items over and over until they were no longer useful: Feed sacks became dresses or old doors became the new dining room table.

What’s old is new again, but with a twist.

Thrift is still a trend today and a big reason some people upcycle. Others enjoy the artistic aesthetic, with lots of upcycled items rivaling those found in high-end department stores. But one of the biggest reasons for the rebirth of upcycling is the positive impact on the environment. Items destined for landfill are rescued and remade into something useful.

Also, upcycling is a way of life for people in developing countries. Raw materials are expensive so people use what they can find to create bowls, baskets, jewellery and other useful and beautiful items.

Upcycling Is Green

Plain and simple, upcycling makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage stream. Upcycling instead of recycling is good too; recycling requires energy or water to break down materials. Upcycling only requires your own creativity and elbow grease.

What Can I Upcycle?

Just about anything: Wine bottles, cans, newspapers, milk cartons, tires, suitcases, jeans, you name it. If you no longer have a use for it, upcycle it!

We offer training in upcycling so you can learn to do it for yourself however, even if you’re not creatively inclined - we are! We can upcycle items for sale in our shops.

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