Why Recycle When you can Upcycle?

Private Property South Africa
Doug Mattushek

Upcycling is the process of converting useless materials or waste in to useful a product. For example, turning a circuit board into drink coasters, plastic bottles into a lamp or an old book into a clock. The central theme to the idea is that we humans throw away too much. Old products could be given more value if we just applied our minds to an alternate use for them.

But what is the difference between that and recycling? Well, recycling is simply breaking down products and materials into something of lesser quality. Additionally, this is a process that often involves melting, which uses more energy, the very thing that there environmentalists are trying to save, or burning which is no good for the ozone.

The concept of upcycling was promoted by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. The book states that the goal of upcycling is to prevent wasting potentially useful materials by making use of existing ones. The only energy you use is our own and the only limitation is your imagination!

Entire business have sprung out of upcycling. Hello Rewind takes old t-shirts and turns them into trendy laptop sleeves with profits going towards helping sex-trafficking victims. TerraCycle accepts certain hard-to-recycle rubbish through a network of over 20 million people around the globe and turns it into sellable products; anything from Lays themed clipboards to handbags can be ordered online. Finally, Patagonia, the well-known outdoor gear specialists, make fleeces from recycled plastic bottles.

Like most things, upcycling can start home. For starters, how about collecting all those paper rolls and making a cute stool?

And how about a spice rack out of old lightbulbs.Or a retro light made out of aluminium can pull-tabs?

Or a retro light made out of aluminium can pull-tabs?

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