Upcycling is a term not many of us are familiar with, but nonetheless an important concept that differs from recycling. According to Wikipedia, “upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” Upcycling makes something of equal or better value without downgrading the original material or creating more pollution during the process.  Recycling requires additional processing, is less environmentally friendly, and is not necessarily of better value.  For example, the quality of recycled paper or plastic is lower than that of new paper or plastic.

Image from Terracycle.net

Artists upcycle when they make jewelry out of discarded tin cans or make garden sculptures out of wooden pallets.  The US-based company TerraCycle has diverted billions of units of waste and used them to create over 1500 products such as purses, lunch boxes, picture frames, and coolers made from used candy and gum wrappers, bottle caps, etc.  Their products are now sold at major retailers such as Whole Foods Markets and Walmart, and they have partnered with major brands like J&J, Kraft Foods, BIC, and Aveeno.   Committed consumers around the world send them used products and packages for repurposing that otherwise would end up in the landfill.  (Visit www.terracycle.net)

In developing countries, where new raw materials are often expensive, upcycling is commonly practiced. Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer, sells beautiful upcycled items from artisans in developing countries, creating opportunities for them to earn money.

As a society, we need to reduce waste and consumption.  Some trash is inevitable, but the goal is to keep it out of the landfill.  Recycling is an obvious solution, but upcycling provides a new mindset and an even greener alternative to trash disposal.

Information compiled from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upcycling, http://www.helium.com/items/1547988-how-does-upcycling-differ-from-recycling



One response to this post.

  1. Very useful stuff!!


Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: