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On our planet every day that passes more waste is generated and, in fact, with all the waste generated around the world each year, more than 800,000 Olympic swimming pools could be filled. That is why there is an urgent need to direct our lifestyle towards one based on responsible consumption, in which what is needed is acquired and waste that can have a second life, that is, another utility, is reused.
Upcycling was born with that purpose, and it has become a process that is gaining more and more recognition. Do you want to know more about him? This Green Ecologist article will explain what is upcycling and ideas to put it into practice, such as upcycling ideas for old or no longer used clothes, plastic, etc.
Upcycling: what is it - definition
The term of upcycling was born in 1994, when it was named in a Thorton Kay de Salvo article by Reiner Piltz. This term refers to the reuse of recyclable waste, with the aim of modifying them and converting them into other products of higher value, so that they continue to be useful before having to be recycled in recycling plants.
Difference between upcycling and recycling
We explain the two concepts in a simple way to understand their difference:
- The concept of recycling refers to recycling through an industrial process in which a waste is transformed into a new material, and in the end new objects and products are produced that will later be consumed. Recycling is within the environmentally friendly actions, avoiding the extraction of new raw materials. Even so, within all of them, it is the last that we must do, since beforehand actions such as reject, repair, reduce or reuse must be found, which not only prevent the extraction of new natural resources, but also help reduce consumption .
- Upcycling, also know as upcycling or super recycling, is based on reuse. This process aims to take advantage of waste, to transform it into new objects through imagination and creativity, to reduce the need to consume new products or objects, as well as reducing the acquisition of new raw materials.
In short, the difference between upcycling and recycling or upcycling and recycling, is that the first is based on the creative reuse of waste and the second on recycling in the industrial process to use the raw material again. We encourage you to learn more about the 3Rs of ecology: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and to discover the 7Rs: Redesign, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Renew, Recover and Recycle.
How to upcycling - ideas
Upcycling really has no limits, it all depends on the imagination and of the person who is creating. There are many upcycling ideas that are currently emerging using different residues. Here are some ideas:
- Cover for beach umbrella: How many times has the cover of the umbrella that we take to the beach broken? With some jeans that we do not use, either because they are very damaged or because they do not fit us, we can make a cover to put the umbrella that we use for the beach. In addition, cowboy fabric is usually very resistant and will surely last longer than any plastic cover.
- Convert an old sweater into a cushion or a bed for dogs: with an old sweater that we no longer use we can make a fantastic cushion to leave it on our bed or sofa or even use it as a bed for our dog or cat. You only need filling, which can be more fabrics that you no longer use or the filling of a somewhat worn cushion, and sew the necessary stitches to close it.
Plastic or glass upcycling
- Garden chairs with plastic bottles: instead of recycling plastic bottles we could make chairs. For this we will need the frame of the chair, to which we will then put plastic bottles, which will be fixed with ropes or with glue, for the seat and the backrest. These chairs are long lasting and perfect for outdoor areas.
- Decoration objects with glass bottles: we can make our own collection of glasses with glass bottles. For this we need the following materials: scissors, wool or thread, alcohol, cold water and sandpaper. We take the bottle and at the height we want, we will surround it with wool. Two or three turns should be done. This wool must be soaked in alcohol before placing it in the bottle and we must fix it as straight as possible. Once this is done we light the wool with a long match or a lighter (better to use a long kitchen one) and let it burn for about 40 seconds. After this time we submerge the bottle in cold water and due to the change in temperature, the bottle will split in the area that we have heated. That is why it is very important to surround the bottle with the wool, leaving it as straight as possible, because it will break in that area. Once the bottle is broken, we must sand it well to avoid cutting ourselves and, thus, we will obtain our glass. Another very frequent use of glass bottles is to use them as decorated vases to our liking.
Upcycling in technology
- Vintage pet bed made with an old television: with an old television we could create a bed for our pet, for this we would have to empty the television leaving only the housing. Once we have emptied it, we can cover it with a wallpaper, the one we like the most, and put some cushions inside it so that the space is comfortable.
- Shelf with a vintage radio: we can take an old radio that cannot be fixed, empty it and just keep what is the holder. We can use it to decorate our house, and in the empty space we can place books, a small plant like a small cactus or whatever we like the most.
Upcycling in fashion or upcycling fashion
There are many fashion designers and clothing brands that opt for upcycling, using materials of all kinds, such as plastics, metals, wood, textiles or threads of different materials. Fashion is reinventing itself, did you know that you can make a beautiful top or a practical bag with jeans? It is true that for some transformations you have to have a certain skill with sewing, but we can also create without sewing, for example, you can make a nice bag with a shirt just by folding it and making knots in it so that space is created of the bag and the handle.
There are countless materials and ideas to upcycling and reuse as much as possible. We leave you here some more ideas and, if you dare, in the comments you can leave us your ideas for upcycling:
- How to make recycled pots.
- Decorate the garden with wooden pallets.
- Ideas for recycling clothes.
- Ideas to recycle an old bicycle.
- Ideas to recycle old furniture.
If you want to read more articles similar to Upcycling: what it is and ideas, we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category.