What is Upcycling ?

Upcycling is a relatively new kid on the block.  So new, in fact, that my spellchecker keeps wanting to change it to epicycle !  Turns out although the word is new, the concept is not new at all.

Upcycling is the process of changing old, discarded or unused articles into something new that is useful and usually beautiful.  It gives used materials a better, often higher purpose than before.

So you see, the idea of upcycling is not new.  Some of the best ideas for upcycling originates from tough times when people had to make do with that they had.  Nothing was wasted.


Lets demonstrate with an example

Upcycling is a form of recycling but differs from recycling because the materials are not broken down. Materials are used in its original format.

Take for instance a discarded plastic bag.  To upcycle a used plastic bag you can clean it, cut it into yarn and weave a beach bag.

To recycle that same bag you will have to melt it down, turn it into pellets and use the pellets to manufacture a completely new product.

Three Reasons You Should Upcycle

Saves the Environment

When you modify discarded materials for a new use instead of throwing it into a rubbish bin from where it will end up in a landfill, you are saving the planet.

Rising consumerism is one of the biggest enemies to the environment and repurposing old redundant items instead of running off the the mall to buy something new curbs your expenditure and saves the environment.

Enhances Lives

Since materials don’t have to be broken down and changed into a new material, entry cost is low and skills to upcycle can be taught relatively easy.  This makes it ideal for solo entrepreneurs, community upliftment projects or a side business to earn some extra cash.

If you are not up to upcycling yourself, you can find groups where you can donate items used in upcycling projects and so help uplift your community.

One such company is Upcycle.co.za where individuals and corporates can get involved in upcycling.

Stimulates Your Creativity

Once you start looking at ideas to repurpose, the sky is the limit, really, and every item in your house and around the office suddenly winks at you with a new purpose.

Pinterest is a rich source of upcycle ideas, and I put together a special board for you with some excellent ideas.

Until next time, keep cycling up!