Upcycling – just like our grandparents did

Upcycling – just like our grandparents did

So what is upcycling? Another form of recycling, another word for recycling? It’s actually recycling in it’s purest form, and despite the fact that it sounds incredibly new and fashionable, it’s been around for generations.

All of those things your grandparents did, cutting up things and re-using parts of them to fix something, or creating something new from something old, were upcycling. Using old socks or nylon tights for a myriad of uses, or cutting elastic rings out of old rubber gloves, were all part and parcel of this practice. Past generations were upcycling before we even came up with up the word, it was just something everybody did, and that was that.

Whereas recycling takes an old product and breaks it down to its component parts, upcycling is all about using something again, with nothing but some imagination and a bit of elbow grease. In this way upcycling is a double whammy when it comes to helping the environment – keeping old products out of landfill, but not requiring the energy thats needed to reprocess recycled goods.

Upcycling is even so trendy these days, it’s hard to imagine that war-time folk did it out of necessity, and that millions of people in developing countries do it every day. Whilst we enjoy upcycled items such as furniture made from old doors, we are a part of the movement to upcycle and to make more from less.

So next time you are about to throw out something good, aside from the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle, have a think about the possiblities. Is it possible to refashion this item into something else and extend its useful life? Aside from helping the planet, you may find that you are much more resourceful and inventive than you thought you were – you might even find your own new business.


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