Upcycling has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years, and for good reason. Not only does it promote sustainability, but it also helps reduce waste. From clothes to furniture to home accessories, there are many items that can be upcycled into something new and inventive.
What is Upcycling?
Upcycling is the process of taking an item and giving it a new purpose or life. The goal is to create something of greater value than the original item. This is different from recycling, which breaks down materials into their basic components, or repurposing, which means finding a new use for an item without modifying it (Wegener & Aakjær, 2016).
Patagonia, for example, uses soda bottles to make polyester fibers for clothing. They also offer a "worn wear" program where customers can bring in used clothing and receive discounts on new items. TerraCycle takes hard-to-recycle materials such as chip bags and toothpaste tubes and turns them into new products. They even have a "zero waste box" subscription where customers can send in their old materials, and they'll be reused.
Benefits of Upcycling
Upcycling has many benefits for both the environment and society. Environmentally, it reduces waste by preventing items from going to landfills. It also conserves resources since it requires fewer new materials than buying something brand new. Socially, upcycling encourages creativity as people come up with inventive ways to repurpose different items. It also reduces consumerism since people are encouraged to get creative with what they already have instead of buying something new.
Top Commercial Upcycled Products
Aside from our very own Kanso Design planters (made from natural stone, wood fibers, and recycled plastic), here are our top favorite upcycled products:
- Upcycled Black Hole Bags - Patagonia's Black Hole bags are made from upcycled materials such as fishing nets, scraps from wetsuit production, and other nylon waste.
- Adidas x Parley Shoes - Adidas has partnered with Parley for the Oceans to create a line of shoes made from upcycled ocean plastics.
- TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box Program - TerraCycle offers a program where consumers can purchase a Zero Waste Box and fill it with items such as coffee capsules, snack wrappers, and beauty product packaging, which are then upcycled into new products.
- The Renewal Workshop - The Renewal Workshop takes discarded clothing and textiles and upcycles them into new, high-quality products such as shirts, jackets, and hats.
- Smile Plastics - Smile Plastics upcycles a range of materials, such as plastic bottles, yogurt pots, and packaging, into sheets of decorative materials for interior design.
- Elvis & Kresse - Elvis & Kresse upcycles decommissioned fire hoses into luxury bags and accessories, with 50% of profits donated to fire services charities.
- The Ocean Cleanup's Sunglasses - The Ocean Cleanup has created a line of sunglasses made from upcycled ocean plastic collected during their ocean cleanup efforts.
- ECOALF - ECOALF creates clothing and accessories made from upcycled materials such as recycled cotton and coffee grounds.
- Bureo Skateboards - Bureo Skateboards makes skateboards and accessories using upcycled fishing nets.
- Solo New York's Re:cycled Collection - Solo uses upcycled materials such as plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets.
Top DIY Upcycling Projects
Here are some top DIY upcycled products that you can make:
- Furniture: One of the most popular upcycling projects is turning old furniture into something new. You can transform an old dresser into a unique bathroom vanity, a wooden pallet into a coffee table, or an old door into a headboard.
- Mason Jar Projects: Mason jars are versatile and inexpensive items that can be upcycled in many ways. You can use them as candle holders, planters, or even to create a chandelier.
- Clothing: Old clothing can be transformed into something new and fashionable. You can use fabric from old t-shirts to make a quilt, turn a skirt into a dress, or create a tote bag out of an old pair of jeans.
- Lighting: Old light fixtures can be transformed into unique and stylish pieces. You can turn a colander into a pendant light, use wine bottles as a lamp base, or create a chandelier out of old silverware.
- Garden Art: You can upcycle old items to create unique and interesting garden art. Old bicycle wheels can be turned into a trellis, an old ladder can be used as a plant stand, and old pots and pans can be used as garden decor.
- Wall Art: Old items can be transformed into unique wall art. Old book pages can be used to create decoupage wall art, old shutters can be turned into a photo display, or an old map can be turned into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
- Home Decor: You can upcycle old items to create unique home decor. Old bottles can be turned into vases, old picture frames can be used as a tray, or an old window can be turned into a message board.
Upcycling is a great way to create unique, sustainable, and eco-friendly products that are both stylish and functional. From upcycled skateboard decks to mason jar soap dispensers, there are endless possibilities when it comes to upcycling and repurposing items.
Whether you're creating something for yourself or gifting a one-of-a-kind piece to a friend, upcycling is an easy and creative way to make a lasting impact on the environment.
Wegener, C. & Aakjær, M. (2016). Upcycling – a new perspective on waste in
social innovation. Journal of Comparative Social Work. file:///D:/Downloads/ojsadm,+Journal+manager,+2016-2-5+Article+Wegener+PDF.pdf
From Waste to Resource
Our efforts and commitment to waste reduction and sustainability begin with our production process.
Plastic and agriculture wastes are repurposed and utilized through innovative transformation into a biodegradable composite material.