What Is Upcycling?
Upcycling is actually a variety of processes, by which old products are refreshed and get a second life, becoming something new and loved once again. This process is completed by using a mixture of used materials, components and items, resulting in a new product with more value than the original product.
The process of upcycling spans a wide range of activities, from giving an old wooden chair a fresh lick of paint, to creating a completely new product through the process. You take a product that is no longer useful or valuable and turn it into something that has a new life.
Why Is Upcycling So Important?
The environmental benefits of upcycling are huge! Upcycling minimises the volume of discarded materials and wastes heading into landfill, reducing the 8.7 million tonnes of household waste sent to landfill each year in the UK.
It also decreases the need for production using new, raw materials, which in turn means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions. Upcycling provides an overall conservation of global resources and is often the most sustainable way to add new things into your life.
What Are The Benefits Of Upcycling?
Upcycling has many benefits, but they generally fall into four main categories: Environmental, Economical, Uniqueness, and Psychological.
- Reduce waste
- Save money
- Feel good factor
- Totally unique products
- Add personality
- Small business support
- Fight against fast fashion
- Support the environment
- The process can be great fun as a hobby
- Theraputic process of craft-making
Upcycling isn’t simply about turning old into something new and exciting! It not only has positive environmental benefits by reducing the unnecessary manufacturing of new goods, but it also saves you money. If you want to bring new life into your home or your wardrobe but you are tight on cash, upcycling is the answer.
Upcycled pieces are usually one-offs, which make them completely unique. They are a brilliant way to add your own stamp to your home or wardrobe with an item that no one else has. Rather than buying something mass-produced, buying or creating an upcycled piece enables you to reflect your own individual tastes and personality.
The psychological effects of upcycling are lesser-known but are really interesting. The rewards of upcycling aren’t just in creating a unique piece of furniture or clothing piece, it also has the therapeutic benefits of the actual crafting process. It’s relaxing and often meditative to use the right side of your brain, for a change, by indulging yourself in a creative task. You also get a great sense of achievement by creating a piece you love.
What To Upcycle?
Upcycling furniture is often the first thought when it comes to upcycling. Whether it’s updating a piece you already have, or picking up a second-hand piece on eBay or FreeCycle, we’ve often found older pieces of furniture are sturdier and made to a higher standard than the mass-produced pieces today.
If you’re working with wood, you have so many upcycle opportunities – old palettes can be turned into bookshelves, wooden ladders can be turned into leaning shelves, and scrap wood can be turned into desks or side tables.
From chalk paint and decoupage to re-upholstery and embroidery, there are so many ways to transform old pieces of furniture.
Old clothes can be turned into so many different kinds of furniture or decorations for the home. Use stronger fabrics for upholstering an old chair, creating new pillowcases, or even pet toys, and softer fabrics for throws, blankets, pillows, and decorations.
Fabrics don’t have to just be used solely in the home. You can easily add a new lease of life to your wardrobe through upcycling. You could turn an old dress into a new skirt, or add fabric paint to a denim jacket for a fresh look.
Even if you’re not big on sewing, you can create handbags out of old t-shirts in minutes.
Upcycling Household Materials
There are tons of household waste materials you can upcycle such as old tin cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, scrap paper and cartons. You can create planters by upcycling tin cans or turn cardboards and scrap paper into decorative ornaments or storage boxes.
You can also turn old glass bottles, wine bottles, old tiles, and broken crockery into some fun artworks. Other pieces around the home can be used to create an endless list of items.
Our Favourite Upcycled Pieces
If you’re not feeling that crafty but have been inspired by upcycling’s environmental impact, then buying upcycled furniture, clothing, or accessories is a great way to support our environment. Here is a selection of our favourite upcycled pieces from independent sellers.
Paguro produces a wide range of accessories created out of upcycled materials. From inner tube wallets to army tent wash bags, their products incorporate a wide range of reclaimed, recycled and repurposed materials, with designers who thrive on the challenge of using such difficult materials in desirable and elegant ways.
They sell an extensive product collection from vegan jewellery, handbags, wallets, and laptop cases to dog collars, fruit bowls, and bottle openers.
Elephant Branded products are handmade ethically by local villagers out of recycled materials, which benefits the local community by giving people the skills they need to get themselves out of poverty. Each purchase from Elephant donates school equipment to children in Cambodia, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya.
They sell a range of shoulder bags, duffle bags, laptop cases and pencil cases.
Siyana London works hand-in-hand with local talents to create sustainable livelihoods. They want to protect the handloom industry in Indian. Every piece of craft narrates a personal story of indigenous artists from distinct parts of Indian, with every purchase positively impacting their lives.
They sell a beautiful range of hand made scarfs, makeup bags, and handbags.
Jaggery Bags create products from upcycled materials, ranging from super durable army truck tarpaulin and parachute materials, tube tyre innards, and seatbelts to kid’s bouncies, car upholstery, and your Dad’s old pinstripe suits.
They sell a wide range of bags, laptop cases and wallets.
Cakriki is a sustainable apparel company trying to influence an industry that uses irresponsible, highly polluting methods of production. All of their products are sustainably sourced and ethically produced, using upcycled materials to make many of their products.
They sell a range of streetwear items, such as an upcycled jacket made from leather offcuts, a windbreaker made from upcycled tents
Ksana sells cruelty-free and environmentally sustainable watches that are made to last. They embody the desire to have fun without continued stimulation from the “always-on”, technologically-connected world in which we live.
All Ksana watches can be returned at the end of their life to be recycled and upcycled into a new watch, creating a fully circular manufacturing and disposal process.
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