We are familiar with recycling, composting, zero-waste lifestyle as well as smart and minimalist consumption, but what about “upcycling”? Only recently popularized, this new trend is very much in line with a zero-waste lifestyle and a circular economy. Discover an emerging practice that will add something unique to your daily life.
What is upcycling?
Upcycling, contrary to recycling, is a principle of “upwards” recovery. Recycling uses a chemical process to recover materials from objects that we no longer use or that have reached the end of their useful life. Upcycling (also called ” creative reuse”), is recovering materials or products that are no longer useful to us, in order to reclaim (add value to) them by transforming them into superior quality materials or products. Used objects are therefore given a new and improved life, both in their appearance and in their usefulness. Moreover, it is not uncommon to see that following the recovery of an object, the original use is changed to a new use. For example, converting an old metal rake into a lovely wall bracket, old mismatched utensils into handles for vintage furniture or wooden apple crates into a pretty shelf.
Upcycling makes it possible to create a more upscale product with a more sophisticated look. With this trend, a true model of the circular economy, objects can be recovered and therefore don’t need to be sent to landfill.
The word “upcycling” was first used in the mid-1990s by Reiner Pilz, an engineer who had become an interior designer. He contrasted the principle of downcycling (recycling that destroys everything) with the principle of upcycling, which “restores value to unused objects instead of having the objects lose value”. This practice has become more widespread in developing countries where access to consumer goods is more difficult. Using existing objects is therefore becoming a practical and affordable solution.
The main benefit of upcycling is its positive impact on our environment. By reusing objects in a new form, we avoid over-consumption and slow down the creation of new products. This trend also enables residents and businesses to cut down on their waste production. By buying less, we avoid wasting! Both energy and raw materials, such as water, can be saved in this way.
In addition to the many ecological benefits, upcycling also makes it possible to create unique objects, often in the form of works of art or home decorations.
And lastly, the fun aspect of upcycling is, above all, that it everyone can do it. If you are short of ideas, don’t hesitate to check out YouTube, where you will find suggestions for countless DIY (do-it-yourself) items—suggestions that will help you make beautiful creations, very often from objects that you already have at home. Also, take a look at Pinterest, where you can spend hours of enjoyment looking for the perfect item to make to match your decor. At Entraide Diabétique, we accept and resell only items in good condition (see list here). Find clothes or small objects and transform them into unique items. Having built our organization’s reputation on the recovery, reclamation and recycling of waste materials, we believe that upcycling is a very interesting trend to try.