Upcycling: A Way To Give Our Stuff A Second Chance

Redecorating our homes includes more than just buying new furniture, there are many sustainable options to transform old objects into new. However, those options are brand new! That´s why we bring you the concept of upcycling: A way To give our stuff a second chance. Upcycling consists on reusing materials by creating a new product with higher quality than the original.

A good example is when we use an aluminum can as a pot for cactus. You are transforming the original material (an aluminum can) into a product of higher quality (a pot). Continue reading this article to learn the differences between recycling and upcycling and more.

Upcycling Definition: What is Upcycling?

As I explained it before, upcycling is creating a new product with an abandoned object. This new product has to be of higher quality than the abandoned object. In a word, upcycling is transformation. But how can you upcycle a discarded object? There are many ways to do it: give a new use to the abandoned object, repairing the object or refurbishing it. All the elements and objects can be upcyled. Increasing sustainability is the main goal of upcycling.

You can upcycle plastic for example. Plastic is a versatile material that can be perfectly transformed into something new. Bottles from Coke or Sprite are good quality materials to start with. When you upcycle an abandoned object, sometimes that object can be seen in the new product but other times it is almost invisible. Have you heard about the new Adidas sustainable shoes?

They use recycled plastic coming from the sea to create new shoes. That abandoned object (plastic in the ocean) is transformed into a new product of higher quality. Brands are starting to mix sustainability in their production. Another companies use abandoned plastic to create swimsuits. Nowadays, taking care of the environment is priority. Clothes, glass and industrial waste are another materials which you can upcycle.

Check these great options to upcycling with plastic bottles: Best Eco-friendly Gifts Made of Recycled Plastic Bottles

Difference Between Recycling and Upcycling

Recycling and upcycling are two different concepts. I know it might be challenging at first to distinguish their differences, but there is one difference that clears all doubts. Let´s revise the concept of recycling first :) Recycling is converting waste into a new object or material. We are all used to recycle at our homes, at least in mine hahaha. Photocopy papers from school are always used as draft in the blank side, by doing so we are converting trash into a new paper.

Another great example are stained clothes. Most people use them as cloths in their kitchen. The difference with upcycling is the following: when you upcycle you are creating a new product with an abandoned object. That new product is of higher quality than the product it was before. Identifying the difference remains in the quality and value of the object.

Upcycling is the solution for a good economy, everything can be reused. A product that is upcycled keeps the quality of its original material, whereas in recycling the quality of the original material cannot be find anymore. Let´s revise some of the materials that can be upcycled: aluminum, glass and more. Glass is a good example! My mother upcycles the jars of jelly by using them as storage containers and planters. Here you can find more ideas to upcycle glass:

  1. A bottle lamp with the empty bottle of water
  2. An outdoor candle made with a cut bottle
  3. A glass bottle fountain
  4. Another lamp with the bottle of Jack Daniel's
  5. A christmas tree of bottles
  6. Find out more here: How can Glass be Recycled become Beautiful and Useful Products?

Difference Between Remanufacturing and Upcycling

I bet you´ve heard about remanufacturing, specially on Amazon. But do you know its exact meaning? Remanufacturing is definitely an industrial process that consists on rebuilding and recovering a worn, non-functional or sold product into a new one. A good example are air-conditioned units and automobile parts. The difference with upcycle relies on the amount of parts that are replaces. In the remanufacturing process all wearing parts are replaced. The final goal of remanufacturing is restore the product to its original functionality.

Whereas in upcycling, the goal is to prevent the waste of materials by giving a use to the materials that already exist. A great example of it is converting a piece of wood into a wood bench for your children. Upcycle strongly reduces the amount of consumption in the world. The more the materials are used, the less the waste in the world.

Another key difference between remanufacturing and upcycling is that the first one involves preserving the entire product. While in upcycling an old material becomes a completely new product different from the original one. As we mentioned before, sometimes you do not even notice what was the original material of the product ;) The thing that both of them have in common is the environmental friendly goal. Helping the environment and preserving it are important things for everyone.

Is Upcycling an Eco-friendly Activity?

Upcycling is 100% an eco-friendly activity. As I mentioned earlier, when we upcycle we are helping the planet. By keeping materials and stuff out of the street, we are giving them a second chance to exist in a better version of themselves. The volume of abandoned materials is incredibly reduced when people upcycle at their houses. It is so easy to upcycle materials at home that there is no way you can´t do it.

Not only the volume of abandoned materials is reduced, but also the need of production decreases too. How? Using new materials to build new products requires spending natural resources such as water, air, greenhouse gas emissions and more. When you upcycle there is a reduction in the usage of natural resources too: it is a win-win for you and the environment. Keep in mind that upcycling means turning a material or old object into a higher quality product. Find in the following list more activities that are eco-friendly :)

  1. Start composting at your house! In this article you can find plenty of information about it: 10 Tips and Tricks on how to start a Sustainable Garden.
  2. Change all your bulbs at home and install LED bulbs, they are more energy efficient.
  3. Remember to unplug your appliances when you are not using them at home :)
  4. Installing rain water collector systems at your garden will provide you with a great source of clean water, read this article to learn more: How to choose the best Rainwater Collector for you and its Benefits.
  5. Add solar panels to your roof to use solar energy instead of regular ones. Your bills will be lower and you will be helping to the environment at the same time. Find info about it here: Solar Panels: How to Incorporate them into your House.
  6. Separate waste at home! You will be amazed once you see the reduction of trash once you separate dry waste.
  7. Use the bike when going to work instead of the bus or a car. The amount of carbon dioxide will be reduced in the air. Read more here: Bike World: Everything You Need to Know to Start Riding
  8. Plant trees at your local park to bring fresh air into the community. It is a great activity to do with your family or friends. Helping the planet is easy!

Find the Easiest Things to Upcycle here!

  • Adult socks can become children leggings: of course sewing is required in this activity, but everyone can do it. It may seem difficult, but once you try it you will see it is not.
  • Do you want to hold a gift card? Use a cassette case (ask your grandpas about them). Find a tutorial online to convert a cassette case into a gift card holder. Your gift will look original and everyone will love it!
  • Use aged windows! Transform them into beautiful frames to display art. Find videos on YouTube that explain how to do it. Extra help may be needed :)
  • Have you got old newspapers at home? Start using them! There are many tutorials online teaching how to make gift bags with them. You can make bags of different sizes: small, medium or big. It depends on the gift :)

Learn to Implement Upcycling in your Life with this Incredible Book:


Upcycling: 33 Ways To Reuse Old Glass Jars and more!

Find in this E-book all you need to know about upcycling! You will have plenty of options to upcycle at your house, 33 options to be honest :)

  • A kindle version is easy to transport and to have it all the time with you.
  • Have access to original ideas! Share them with your friends and family.
  • Your home will look brand new with the upcycling products! Use jars, wine bottles and more.

Buy the book that will improve your life and more!

Buy on Amazon

I hope that after reading this review you can have a full picture of the upcycling world. I forgot to mention that the word belongs to the same family of recycling and reusing. As you may have learnt, those words have different meanings :)

Once you start to upcycle at your house, your world changes completely! You will see abandoned objects as opportunities to create new products with higher quality. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about this concept, so share this information with your friends and neighbors.

Saving the planet depends on our actions, let´s do it!

You may be interested at: How to Design a Sustainable Home? 50 Easy Sustainable Home Tips!

Belen Molina

I am a passionate person about healthy food and the environment. Translator/copywriter.

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