UPCYCLING – CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT WASTE

Upcycling Packaging Boxes
Concern for the level of waste in our consumerist society, and the resulting environmental impact, is driving individuals and businesses to think more creatively about waste. Upcycling is often the result.
Upcycling
Upcycling is the process of converting old and discarded materials (waste) into something useful with a better purpose, or into something beautiful. Recycling involves a process by which a product is broken down so the base material can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality. Upcycling is instead focused on refashioning material.
It’s not an old concept. Our ancestors, driven by the limited materials available, were avid upcyclers. Similarly in developing countries, where new raw materials are often expensive, upcycling is commonly practiced, largely due to impoverished conditions.
Upcycled Socks

Etsy Upcycled Socks

This recent trend towards upcycling in developed countries is significant. The number of products on Etsy tagged with the word “upcycled” increased from about 7,900 in January 2010 to nearly 30,000 a year later. As of today, it had increased to 268,416 an amazing increase!
A diverse range of organisations, in an effort to differentiate themselves, are helping to drive this trend. TerraCycle is one of the first and best known upcycling companies, having started with an idea to turn worm poop into fertilizer, they have now diversified into a range of products. Playback Clothing transforms waste including plastic bottles and clothing scraps into great looking eco-clothing, IceStone , recycled glass into high end design surfaces and Preserve which transforms plastic such as yogurt containers into attractive toothbrushes and kitchenware. Retail stores such as Upcycle Studio are even specialising in upcycled products.
Recyclebank
Many of these organisations are also focused on raising people’s awareness of the issues associated with waste and landfill, and attempting to make it easier for consumers to recycle. Recyclebank has taken this a step further, focusing on rewarding people for taking everyday green actions with discounts and deals from local and national businesses.
This upcycling trend is resulting in some amazing, creative new products, and at the same time, is great for the environment. So before you take our new packaging cartons, to start coloring in and cutting out with your kids, let’s look at some upcycling inspiration.

Planned Chinese Aviation Museum, 50 meters in diameter - 100% recycled CDs and DVDs

Thierry Jeannot’s stunning chandelier for London Design Festival – 1,500 recycled pet bottles

BottleWear Collection launched by Nendo at Designtide, Tokyo - returned Coca-Cola bottles not suitable for circulation

Upcycle Studio’s floor cushion - an incredible 180 reclaimed plastic bags collected from the streets and fields of Cambodia.

Upcycled Abi bag made in the UK by Katcha Bilek – tackling the problem of recycling tyres and tyre tubes.

Nodak Mama's Flower Wreath - Made by hand from old books.

Katrinshine Upcycled T-SHort - Made from vintage crochet doily.

Fonderie 47's ornate accessories - made from confiscated AK-47 rifles from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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