The Many Advantages of Upcycling

We all know about the importance and advantages of recycling. In fact, some governments today have passed laws to motivate citizens into recycling more, setting our garbage out on the curb each week already properly segregated and ready to go to recycling plants to be broken down and repurposed. However, only a handful of people know about ‘upcycling’, or the process of bringing new life to old personal effects.

Some call upcycling ‘salvage art’: taking something that would otherwise be thrown out and making it into something better ourselves. One can also look at it as the reconstruction of an item, revamping it, and creating a new product. With this eco-friendly concept, we can reduce the accumulation of waste in overcrowded landfills, which is also a great environmental consideration.

For example, take reusable shopping bags. These are a new trend in stores where you can buy a branded non-plastic or plastic hybrid bag to place your items in, as well as take on your next shopping trip to save on the use of normal plastic bags. You can upcycle here by using existing plastic bags that you have at home, or creating a new bag from them.

Upcycling opportunities exist all around us if one only had a discerning eye. An old sweater, for example, can be repurposed into a case for the pillows on your couch. An old pair of jeans, combined with a little creativity, can be turned into a great bag organizer. Coffee tins can be upcycled into pots for small plants and flowers. Giving new life to everyday household items is a smart, even chic, thing to do; the above are only a few possibilities in a seemingly-endless list – and you don’t even need to be crafty to take advantage of them. There are a lot of websites and materials that can help you get started.

So consider upcycling before you throw that item into the recycling bin. The process of recycling is to break down high-grade materials into their purest raw forms, whereas upcycling gives you more value for your money because you will be taking worn out materials and turning them into items of bigger or equal value. It also saves energy, so it is a better alternative to recycling or donating. Donating clothes is a great way of getting rid of things that you no longer use, sure, but it will still need to be transported to a distribution center, which will require the use of fuel.

There are businesses out there that can do your upcycling for you, if you’re unsure or don’t have the time to do it yourself. Check around your community for businesses where you can send your items to, say for example old shirts, which they will turn into a cool cloth bag. However, this option also uses up energy, so it’s highly recommended that you check out upcycling blogs or websites instead to figure out how to do it all yourself.

Upcycling is a simple process and doing it at home is a great way to express yourself and exercise those inner creative juices. So the next time you segregate your garbage, or do some spring cleaning, think about upcycling, and be inspired.

About the Author

George is a repurposing junkie who occasionally writes for Plastic Place, a wholesaler of eco-friendly trash bags and garbage bags. He was able to save close to $100 last month from upcycling alone.