What Is Upcycling?
The reduction of waste is an important goal that's shared by anyone who wants to help preserve the environment. Unfortunately, when the items that people use on a daily basis, such as glass jars, jeans, furniture, and tires, are no longer useful, they are typically thrown away. These are the items that ultimately fill up landfills and can damage the environment. While recycling is one alternative solution to throwing items in the garbage, it isn't the only option available. A fun and increasingly popular option is a process called upcycling. When a person upcycles old or undesired goods, they turn them into new and useful items that serve a different purpose. With imagination and the right know-how, nearly anyone can help the environment by upcycling.
Different Ways to Upcycle
There are many different ways to upcycle depending on the object in question. A wine bottle, for example, can be painted or decorated and used as a vase for flowers or to hold vinegar or oil. Hang glass canning jars from hooks and place tea lights inside to create simple outdoor lanterns, or punch holes or designs into painted tin cans to create festive luminaries that can light up a front or backyard. Window shutters or an old door can be painted and used to create a unique headboard or table top. Other ways to upcycle goods include turning old-fashioned door knockers or silverware into handles for kitchen or bathroom cabinets and transforming baby cribs, suitcases, or old dresser drawers into bedding for one's pet. Even items such as cardboard boxes and tissue boxes can be upcycled. Adding a liner and wrapping twine or jute around cardboard boxes can turn them into attractive storage baskets, while an empty tissue box can be turned into a useful desktop caddy.
How Upcycling Positively Impacts the Environment
Because upcycling prevents materials from going to landfills, it saves valuable landfill space while also reducing the risk of toxic gases and other pollutants entering the atmosphere or poisoning the soil. People's unwanted items often end up in rivers and oceans as well, and upcycling can keep these materials from harming fish and other aquatic life. Certain items can be turned into clothing, handbags, or even jewelry. As a result, no manufacturing-related pollution is produced, no additional energy is wasted, and no new materials are consumed.
- Upcycling, Downcycling, and How to Tell the Difference: Go to the University of Tennessee's Office of Sustainability website to learn about the definitions of recycling, upcycling, and downcycling.
- Upcycling: Save the Planet for Future Generations: Upcycling reduces pollution and resource consumption.
- From Recycling to Upcycling: Think Before You Toss it Out: Upcycling is a way to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills.
- Upcycling: A Green Solution to the Problem of Plastic: Plastic is not easily biodegradable. The U.S. Department of Energy explains how upcycling can keep plastic from becoming a threat to the environment.
- Recycling vs. Upcycling: The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources explains to readers the definition of recycling and upcycling as well as the differences between the two concepts.
- Upcycling Evolves From Recycling: Click this link to read a New York Times article about upcycling and the benefits that it offers.
- Upcycling Turns Credit Cards Into Jewelry, Trash Into Fashion: Fox Business talks about how to protect the environment by upcycling old credit cards into jewelry.
- Inventive Ways to Trash Into Treasure (video): Go here to see a Fox News video about upcycling bottles, cans, cardboard, and other objects that would be considered useless.
- Upcycling Turns Trash Into Valuable Products: ABC News features an article about the benefits of turning unwanted objects into things that are more useful than they were before.
- Upcycling Gift Ideas: Hot Air Balloon Ornaments, Broken Wine Glass Lights, More (video): Visit the NBC News website for a video that talks about how to make gifts and home décor out of upcycled items.
- Have You Heard of Upcycling?: Visit this page to find out about what upcycling is and its potential benefits.
- Upcycling From Trash to Treasure: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology features an article here that talks about an educational upcycling adventure called "Junkyard Art."
- Reuse and Upcycling: Learn about how to upcycle household items with some tips provided on the Arlington, Virginia, government's website.
- How to Save Money by Upcycling: U.S. News & World Report talks about saving money by upcycling used furniture in an article here.
- 11 Wild Ways to Upcycle an Old Bicycle: Used bicycles don't need to be sent to junkyards as trash. Yahoo News offers some ideas on how to turn old bicycles into everything from toilet paper holders to chairs and more.
- Five Ways to Upcycle Empty Wine Bottles: Used wine bottles have many uses besides containers for alcoholic beverages. Visit the Better Homes & Gardens website for some ideas on how to give an empty bottle new life.
- The Art of the Upcycle: Learn about upcycling and how to upcycle an old shirt in an article by Eco Parent magazine.
- Upcycling for Beginners: The possibilities for upcycling used possessions are endless. Visit the House Beautiful magazine website for advice on how to make newer and better things out of old items.
- Upcycled Ocean Plastic: Plastic in the ocean is a major problem for aquatic wildlife and the environment in general. The Smithsonian highlights companies that are removing plastic from the ocean to recycle and upcycle into new products.
- Upcycled Window Table (video): DIY Network features a video about upcycling an old table here.
- 25 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Stuff: Click this link for a HGTV slide show about different ideas for upcycling old items around the home.