What is Upcycling?
Upcycling is a process by which waste materials are changed to create new products and prevent the waste of useful materials. Upcycled items from these waste materials can be of a higher value and quality than the original piece.
Upcycled pieces also retain and sometimes even enhance the look and feel of the original discarded materials. The reusing process reduces the consumption of new materials and the need for conventional waste disposal, such as landfill.
Upcycling vs Recycling
Both recycling and upcycling reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. However, upcycled goods turns that same waste into a product of higher quality, while recycling ever so slightly decreases the quality of some materials. Recycling breaks products down into their raw materials to be made into a new product but upcycling creatively repurposes old materials while maintaining some of their original characteristics and qualities.
But why should you choose to upcycle? Not only does the process of repurposing prevent waste from entering landfills, lakes, and rivers, it also reduces the amount of CO2 entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The upcycled trend is more than DIY; it uses less water, energy, and raw materials to create something new than traditional production!
Budget-friendly and good for the planet, upcycling allows anyone to turn ‘trash into treasure.’ Here are a few repurposing, reusing and upcycling ideas.
Upcycling is the perfect way to extend the life of a piece of functional furniture. A simple lick of furniture paint can completely transform an old chair, chest or table. If a piece looks a bit shabby (because of a lousy painting job or surface scratches), it can easily be transformed by sanding or a little painting!
When sourcing old pieces of furniture to upcycle, you can find them at car boot sales, markets and from online sellers. Many people sell pieces online at bargain prices or even give them away for free on community threads and websites. These websites and community forums are also a great source of inspiration.
The fashion industry has a massive waste problem and is frequently called out for being one of the largest polluters globally. The rise of upcycled clothes not only contribute to sustainable shopping, but they can also serve as a sense of connection to the past.
If your clothes are due an upgrade, rather than spending your money in the shops, why not look for inspiring ways to create a fresh look from the things you already have? By altering, accessorising and combining old clothes in new ways, you can completely revamp your wardrobe with upcycling.
Given the well-known carbon footprint of the fashion industry, new techniques and trends have emerged to utilise upcycling to create unique new garments. New and independent brands are beginning to emerge, all using an upcycling process. Here are a few upcycling brands:
- Beyond Retro
- Fabric for Freedom
- Zero Waste Daniel