Recycling is a key aspect of the eco-friendly lifestyle. However, recycling usually requires a lot of electricity and the resulting product may not always be very high quality. Upcycling, on the other hand, is a way to take discarded materials that would otherwise end in trash and using them to create something new a useful. Experts consider upcycling to be an even better option than recycling in terms of environmental impact and we investigate the truth behind that claim.
With upcycling, existing material is used to create something new
Upcycling is basically a way to use useful material from existing discarded goods to create something new instead of trashing or recycling it. Upcycling has been employed in crafts for ages though artists today are creating upcycled goods with an environmental stamp more consciously these days. Etsy.com alone features as many as 221,000 upcycled products today.
Reclaimed material like floorboards and bricks from homes are sold as cheap and eco-friendly alternatives to new floorboards and bricks though a lot of designers use these materials to create furniture lines as well. We already have a flourishing “vintage” jewelry and clothing market where clothes and accessories that went out of vogue decades ago are refreshed and sold again as novelty products. We see discarded wine bottles turned into chandeliers and discarded bath tubs are given a new lease of life as backyard ponds!
Upcycling reduces the environmental impact of recycling
Recycling requires a lot of energy to convert trash into useful raw material. Upcycling, on the other hand, uses discarded material itself as raw material which eliminates the energy needed to recycle it. For example, many major retailers are already using discarded plastic bottles to make fleece while others are using leftover raw materials and items that didn’t pass the QC tests into novelty items. Hermès, the famous French luxury-goods firm uses damages scarves to upholster drawers while defective bags are turned into clocks.
Non-recyclables too get a new lease of life with upcycling
Hard to recycle waste and non recyclables provide the biggest challenge for planet lovers. However, upcycling could be just the solution that can save these types of wastes from ending up in landfills. We already have innovators using candy bar wrappers to make luggage bags and jackets while products like flawed ceramic vases and decorative can be used to make innovative book ends, broken tiles can be used in mosaic etc.