We always talk about recycling and the importance of it to the environment. But we often underestimate the power of upcycling too. What’s the difference between traditional recycling and upcycling? Recycling involves a process of taking common household items such as glass, plastic, and paper, and turning the materials into another product. This process always ends up with a product that is of lesser quality and usually not all items that were sent to the recycle center get recycled.
On the other hand, upcycling is all about repurposing. It is a special form of recycling that doesn’t require breaking down the material. You only need a little bit of creativity to produce new ways of using unwanted materials. When we try to put a new value on these items, we are giving them a new purpose so we prevent throwing them into the garbage and wasting them. The end product of this process is usually of higher quality or perceived value.
Both of them reduce our waste that adds burdens to the environment. They also help minimize the demand for new products and materials, which means there will be less pollution caused by unnecessary waste production in the long term. However, upcycling has advantages that recycling does not have.
Upcycling can be a greener version of recycling because it doesn’t consume extra energy and resources as recycling does. It is the best form of reuse as it does not need extra machinery to complete the work. It is also a fun way of living a greener lifestyle. If you have children, you can introduce them to green living by teaching them to use their imagination to create DIY projects with discarded objects. If you are looking for interesting ways to practice upcycling, read our blogs on gift wrapping, green tips, plastic-free tips, and/or sustainable fashion.
In light of the coming new year, I would also like to challenge you to include upcycling in your new year resolutions. Here are some fun DIY ideas for your reference. Make a list of things you can use and turn them into treasures!
- Gather all the cans and turn them into pretty pots for flowers and plants.
- Transform the old window shutter to a paper organizer.
- Make DIY jewelry using the crystals from an old chandelier.
- Use paper rolls and your imagination, transform them into a new art piece for display or even a wall organizer.
- Turn an old ladder into a pretty bookshelf.
There are so many ways of creative repurposing but sometimes you will find it challenging to think of new ways. Do not pressure yourself to do so, you can always choose to recycle them instead. But try to include more upcycling whenever you can.
Upcycling is also more than just some DIY ideas at home. For lots of entrepreneurs, it is a way of generating a green business. Some people are making a living by upcycling items and selling them for profit.
If you have not heard about our favorite sustainable fashion brand, Brave Soles, please check them out. This brand is an example of a successful leader who embraces the concept of upcycling in her business. They use upcycled tires to create trendy, handmade fashion footwear; accessories for both men and women. Right now, they have already upcycled 1,738 tires and saved 285,565 hours of bulb energy altogether. Isn’t it amazing? If you are looking to buy gifts for upcoming holidays or simply just need a new look, visit the brand here.
Consumers are holding brands and companies they love to higher sustainability standards. Many fashion brands are introducing upcycling garments into their collections. For example, Adidas has produced 6 million pairs of shoes using upcycled ocean plastics and turned them into yards to make uppers for shoes. Upcycling is not only applied in the fashion industry, many other industries such as furniture, art, and food are also practicing it.
Nevertheless, sustainable businesses such as Brave Soles are paving the way for a better world and we encourage you to follow. Either by buying and adding some pieces in your closet each season, upcycling at home, or creating a business with it – you are participating in a grand and glorious movement. The intent is all about making a better world of green education and growing leaders. Support green leaders that will invest in the children with a green curriculum and technologies in their program.
By Maria Chen