Friday, 10 September 2010


I was introduced to a new term yesterday: Upcycling.
Of course, I was quite clueless and just thought is was a fancy name for recycling. But I was ever so wrong as it turns out recycling and upcycling are not quite the same thing.

Recycling : take waste materials and make a new, often lesser quality, product.
I like the idea of recycling as waste is abhorrent to me. However, in practice, I sometimes wonder if my meagre/miserly efforts to save the planet are like p****ing in the wind when you consider the waste of other, larger, populations (land of milk and honey anyone?)
Upcycling: The practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value" From the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

Hmmmm, surely the latter applies to anything where a raw material is made it into something better? And for example, the use of waste to create art is not new. However, I think with upcyling we are talking about taking something created and redesigning it into a new, more valuable, object of use. It's not a new concept as poorer nations have had to do this out of necessity and just think of Cuba stuck with the products from the 50s.
I'll watch the upcycling movement here with interest [and the proper amount of cynicism].
If you want to look at it in designer-y, abfab, practice then pop over to Inhabitat.
I'd be interested in any other sites people can point me to or indeed, of hearing of your experiences of upcycling.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm also very new to the concept of upcycling, but the more I read about it the more it appeals to me. As a hobby I've been deconstructing waste items (in my case old wooden wine boxes) and reconstructing them into (what I believe!) are more 'valuable' items - trugs, planters, bird boxes etc. I only picked up on the concept of upcycling in the last month or so, but realised it's just what I been doing (I guess without realising it!). Sure, its a buzzword, but I believe it accurately describes what a lot of people have already been doing for a long time. If you are interested in my individual way of upcyling, you might like to have a look at my (quite basic) website -
The Garden Crate Company
All the best