Upcycling: Make-overs on Waste



What is Upcycling

More and more people and brands have been following sustainability now and to tell you honestly, it’s just a delight to see. Little by little, single-use wastes are now getting phased out. Slowly, people are now making more conscious choices, from organic products to cruelty-free skincare and to brands shifting to more eco-friendly materials on their products. We’re still a long way before we completely take out harmful wastes in our everyday use.  Though, we’re already on our path to becoming more sustainable.

Though, one thing we fail to put in focus on and include in our primary global path to a more sustainable planet is how we can also undo our prior wasteful actions or choices. Lessening waste like single-use plastic for example is a great initiative. An act or a choice that I believe everyone should be able to practice in everyday life. However, we need to reconsider on the items that are already past its glorious days as what most would deem and turn them into a new product.

Upcycling vs. Recycling

I recently came upon the concept of upcycling quite recently. To share what upcycling is all about, it is when you get a used item (usually something that you’re about to throw away) and transform it into a whole new item.

Not to be confused with recycling wherein you need to break down items and just use some parts of them before creating a new product. Don’t get me wrong, recycling is still done in good faith. Both initiatives help in limiting waste, increasing sustainability, and reducing waste going into landfills. However, the process and the outcome vary greatly.

In upcycling, you can completely use the exact item and put some creativity to it, and you’ll get an entirely new item. In this way, the whole item is being used and there’s no waste. The whole idea behind it is also to create a new item that must be of higher quality compared to its original. The reinvention process makes the end product more valuable when the discarded item is sentimental or has a story to it.

Whereas recycling makes waste go through a process to be a reusable item. When an item is recycled it must be broken down to be a different product. Since, in recycling, we focus on getting materials or parts of it that can be used, there will always be some loss to it or some parts of the original product that will go into the landfill.

Basically, recycling covers one of the 3R’s which is, well, the namesake. Upcycling, on the other hand, is focused on the other two, reduce & reuse; wastes in landfill is being reduced and gives you the option to reuse the item.

Transforming Wastes & Mindset

Now that you’ve heard more about the idea behind upcycling, you’re probably wondering how you can start with your projects. Fret not! There are multiple ways as well to take part into the upcycling:

  • Purchase on Upcycle Shops – As more social enterprises open with upcycling and sustainability as their core values, there are now shops all around US that offers upcycled products. Now, furniture that has been redesigned can be shopped online. Some small businesses get thrifted clothes or second-hand clothes and put a personal touch on it, offering you new clothes that will be unique for you.
  • Show your Creative Side – One of the best things about doing upcycling is probably how you can use your creativity and completely think out of the box on your project. A project is not solely limited to “doing a makeover” on your items to make them more aesthetic. It could also be a new product in most people don’t usually think would fit in with your project. Let’s stay glass bottles as lamps or something as simple as a paint bucket being transformed into an ice basket. Ideas are limitless when it comes to upcycling. You may also check social media and crafts websites to see a whole lot of possible projects to work on.
  • Upcycle even the ‘other” stuff – Did you know that you can upcycle even your food waste? Through composting, you can use up scraps which will then turn into compost which is more organic and eco-friendlier for your plants or crops. We all know, that compost is the trick for healthier and more beautiful plants.

There are a thousand ways to take part in the upcycling movement. Luckily, there are shops with available resources that are just right for upcycling like Upcycling Parts Shop.

A Store for Upcycler

Upcycle Parts Shop‘s story started with Nicole McGee who used to be a reuse artist and wants more people to get involved in reuse art. They sell used arts & crafts that are still in good condition for a fraction of their cost. Businesses are encouraged to donate their scraps. These scraps or wastes are then being sold to aspiring upcyclers.

And their main driver to ensure that they get to do their mission is to provoke creativity and promote community through reuse, resourcefulness, and relationships.

I have been a reuse artist for a couple years and have gotten connected with a broader community of up-cyclers. It’s about caring about the environment and wanting to be creative.

Nicole McGee, Executive Director & Co-Founder

This particular action and social impact goal have proven to be fruitful. Since the conception of the social enterprise back in 2014, they have already saved up 40 tons of wastes or scraps from landfills.

Aside from the storefront, they also offer workshops where they guide participants on creative crafts from the items that are readily available. Workshops are offered to anyone from kids to adults and can also be used for corporate events & parties.

It truly is a sight to see more people becoming interested in sustainability. With upcycling as a great way to manage waste where you could fully utilize the whole product without wasting anything, we can ensure that we’re on our path for a more zero-waste world.

If you’re interested to book a workshop with Upcycle Parts Shop or get their uncycled crafts & materials, get to know more about them through their website.

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