Upcycling is a concept most people may not be familiar with. It involves reusing items that would otherwise be heading for the trash can. It is similar to recycling though with some key differences. Both upcycling and recycling can be monetized. For example, some suggestions for monetizing junk recycling include selling beer cans or old cartons, both of which can be recycled for other products.
What is Upcycling?
The reason most people confuse the terms “upcycling” and “recycling” is that they both refer to reusing items in one way or another. However, there are some key differences.
Upcycling refers to the process of reusing something in a way that increases the object’s original value. Basically, it involves creating something new from an old item. A good example of upcycling involves using reclaimed wood to make high-quality furniture. Adding value is one of the main differences between upcycling and recycling.
Another key difference is that upcycling may involve using material in its current form without the need to transform it– a key contrast to recycling. With upcycling, you expect a product of high quality. Recycling produces a lower-quality product.
How Upcycling Helps to Save the Planet
The accumulation of garbage waste, especially the non-biodegradable type, is an existential threat to the planet. As such, anything to combat this issue is good for the planet. While upcycling does not eliminate the problem right away, it helps to curtail it significantly.
The gist of upcycling is to use materials that would otherwise be discarded.
Below are the ways through which upcycling helps the planet.
1) Reduces Landfill Waste
Every year tons of waste products are produced, with much of it ending up in landfills. While landfills are designed to accommodate as much trash as possible, they have their limits. This means that new ones have to be created every few years. At the rate at which garbage is being produced worldwide, landfills will gradually occupy significant portions of land. This will have serious health and economic implications for future generations.
Upcycling is one way of significantly keeping this problem in check. By utilizing discarded items more, it means that there will be fewer such items heading to the landfill.
2)Reduces the Extraction of Natural Resources
Most of the things that end up in a landfill need raw materials for their manufacture. Upcycling helps to reduce the strain on these natural resources by reusing the items that require raw materials from natural sources. A classic example is wood. The need for products that require wood as a raw material means that countless numbers of trees are felled each year. Given the importance of trees to the environment, continued demand for wood products means a gradual depletion of forest reserves and shrubbery. Upcycling helps to slow down this trend by ensuring that many products are reused, thereby reducing the strain on natural raw materials.
3) Reduced Carbon Emissions
This is another benefit of upcycling in addition to reducing the strain on natural resources. Many manufacturing processes contribute significantly to carbon emissions. Carbon emissions have been implicated in several processes that threaten the planet’s existence, including global warming. Upcycling ensures that many products are reused thereby obviating the need for constant manufacture and its subsequent carbon emissions.
4) Promoting Local Businesses and Artisanal Craftsmanship
The process of upcycling involves utilizing ready-made materials. Individuals don’t have to worry about manufacturing processes to provide high-quality goods using upcycled material. This has led to a new breed of local businesses. A good example is a shop that utilizes disposable plastic to make shoes and other everyday items. Such businesses are becoming an important part of some local communities.
Such businesses also promote traditional craftsmanship and talent. Many artists get the opportunity to demonstrate their craft during the making of such products using upcycled materials.
5) Reduced Production Costs
Processing raw materials before the final products are made can be expensive. This increased production cost is responsible for making many products more expensive. Product manufacturers that heavily rely on upcycling significantly reduce their production costs. First is because upcycling utilizes the materials in their current state instead of turning them into something else before the manufacturing process.
You don’t have to own a business that utilizes upcycled materials to support a circular economy. As intimidating as upcycling sounds, you can contribute to it in some simple ways. For instance, you can choose to only shop from places that source their products from businesses that believe in upcycling.
Instead of discarding items, you can find clever ways of repurposing them. For example, instead of getting rid of an old rug, you can reuse it as a pinboard.