Table of contents:
- What is the difference to recycling and downcycling?
- Why should I do upcycling?
- What does upcycling bring?
- Why is upcycling useful?
- Is upcycling sustainable?
Video: The Best Reasons For Upcycling
2023 Author: Hannah Pearcy | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 11:39
More on the subject:
- Upcycling ideas
- Upcycling furniture
Our grandparents already understood how to repair and improve old objects. Back then, a virtue was made out of necessity, nowadays you make a trend out of necessity. Upcycling is more than just a fad. It should also be good for the environment, which in turn makes the trend a necessary virtue. But how sustainable is upcycling really? Can it actually save the environment or is it and is it just a hipster trend for bored creative people?
What is upcycling?
In principle, the history of upcycling is not new: creating something new from the old, people have always done that - repairing things, …
What is the difference to recycling and downcycling?
Recycling, upcycling, downcycling - before you talk about the meaningfulness of “-cycling”, you should first understand the differences. Because although waste products are reused in every process, it also depends on what comes out in the end.
- Recycling: Recycling is the umbrella term for processes in which waste products are reprocessed. Recycling ideally returns the products to their old uses, even if this is not always 100 percent possible. The best example of recycling are deposit bottles. After recycling, these become new bottles. Due to the poor quality, however, new material often has to be added.
- Downcycling: The quality of the waste product cannot be maintained during downcycling. The end product is therefore less valuable than the original product. A good example of this are used clothes that are already so broken that they are processed into cleaning rags.
- Upcycling: The exact opposite happens with upcycling. The original waste product is upgraded through processing. The result is a high quality product made from “waste”. An example of this is when furniture is made from discarded Euro pallets.
Why should I do upcycling?
Our grandparents already thought it useful to use objects as long and frequently as possible. Why buy something new when you can easily repair the old - and save money as well? Unfortunately, it looks a little different these days. If you want to upcycle an item, it can sometimes be more expensive than simply buying a mass-produced product. If you actually want to save money on upcycling, you should calculate exactly beforehand!
But you shouldn't forget another factor: fun! With upcycling, you can let off steam completely creatively and quickly create a new and unique look. Upcycling makes it particularly easy to be creative because there is already a starting product. You don't have to start from scratch and ask yourself what you want to make. The object itself already brings with it certain restrictions and possibilities.
That sounds a lot better than spending an entire morning in a crowded furniture store and spending the afternoon with incomprehensible assembly instructions, right?
What does upcycling bring?
You don't necessarily save money and you don't want to invest several hours of time and work just for the fun of it? Then how about appreciation? In today's throw-away society, furniture, electronics and clothing cost less and less and if something costs little, we automatically attribute a small value to the item. The material is not necessarily inferior than it used to be, it can only be produced cheaper. You will only develop a new appreciation for the material and the actual value of the object if you put yourself in it and devote time and work to it in order to maintain and improve it. And at the end of the day, this not only makes you feel good, it is actually good for us and for the environment!
Why is upcycling useful?
Climate change and its consequences are omnipresent. With Fridays for Future, Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer and Co. draw attention every week to the importance of climate protection and sustainability. Upcycling and the associated conservation of resources play a decisive role in this. By constantly throwing away and buying new products, not only does a lot of waste arise, but also more and more new products, the production of which in turn uses resources and energy and causes CO2. If these are then also manufactured in distant countries, the ecological footprint continues to increase.
However, you can counteract this simply by upcycling your old items. Why, for example, drive the old closet from Grandma with a van to incinerate the waste and then pick up the new closet from the furniture store, if you can restore the old closet in a few simple steps much nicer than it was when you bought it? Why produce when you can also repair? A question that is at the heart of upcycling and that we should all ask ourselves more often.
Is upcycling sustainable?
The only question is whether upcycling is actually as sustainable as is claimed. The answer is clear: it depends! If you want to live sustainability, you must always take a close look at the individual case. Basically, you can stick to these three principles:
1. Do not remove any material from an existing recycling cycle
Products that are in existing recycling cycles, such as our deposit bottles, are optimized for the respective system. If you take something from it, for example to make a flower pot from a plastic bottle, you only ensure that the material is missing at a point where it is actually needed. If everyone now makes their own flower pots out of plastic bottles, we no longer need any material to make new flower pots, but even more so to make new plastic bottles. You therefore do not save any energy, but only redistribute its consumption.
2. Do not use new products
A similar principle applies to new products. If you buy a dress, wear it twice and then sew a curtain out of it, you have done little for sustainability. Because the curtain will probably hang on the window for about as long as the dress in the closet under normal circumstances. It makes more sense to wear the clothing until it is really irrevocably broken. After that, the leftovers can still be recycled as curtains or cleaning rags. This increases the lifespan of the product.
3. Do not buy upcycling products
This point directly follows point two, but goes one step further. Instead of using as good as new products from your home, there are still do-it-yourselfers who even buy new products in the shop in order to then “upcycle” them. Sure, the pretty vintage shelf made of two old wooden ladders is beautiful. But if you now buy two new wooden ladders and trim them to old = , you can really no longer call this upcycling. Instead, you should try to find an actual old ladder. We have summarized ideas for where you can get old items for upcycling here:
The best upcycling ideas
Maybe you already have a few ideas for your first upcycling? But you still lack the right instructions? Or you still wish …
It is therefore better than running after a special upcycling trend to question your own consumer behavior: Does the item have to be thrown away or can I still repair it and what other function could the item perform? This is how you get upcycling naturally.
Which of course doesn't mean that you shouldn't look at upcycling trends. On the contrary: only if you know what is possible can you recognize the potential of old objects. Therefore we have put together a list of creative and sustainable upcycling projects for you:
pallet wall shelf
Pallet furniture is a trend! A shelf can easily be made from a pallet
Trendy wardrobe made of ladders - it's that quick!
Upcycling projects are in vogue and are particularly popular with hobbyists. In this way, attics, garages and cellars will be used …
chair as a bathroom shelf
With a few simple steps, a wall shelf becomes an old chair
Elektro & Leuchten
Upcycling: Build a meat mincer yourself
In his life, this kitchen hero has turned a few kilos of meat into chopped meat and passed dough through his casing for delicious shortbread cookies. Of the…
bookcase from wine boxes
With some paint and wallpaper scraps, you can use wine boxes as shelves
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