Upcycling (or creative reuse) is the process of turning waste, often the "unrecyclable" sort, into something that is useful or of value.
Upcycling serves many purposes, and one of those is to improve the state of the environment. Some things to consider while upcycling:
- Longevity – how long will the upcycled item be kept out of the waste stream?
- Replacement – will the upcycled materials replace the use of new materials?
- Education – does the upcycled work make a point that will encourage us to change our wasteful ways?
- Utility – is the upcycled item useful? Does it fulfil a genuine need?
- Recyclability and reusability – can the upcycled item be recycled or further upcycled when it is no longer needed in its current form?
- Volume – does the upcycling activity put a significant dent in the volume of waste stream that it comes from?
Upcycling Vs Recycling: What is the difference?
Recycling often involves some degree of physical transformation; melting, re-forming or purification. Upcycling is more akin to re-using.
Upcycling is a companion to recycling by keeping waste in its current physical state and turning it into a functional product, not a replacement for it.
Our planet is struggling and facing various environmental threats like:
- Climate change in the form of extreme heat, droughts, floods, storms, decrease in crop yields, and rising sea levels;
- Deforestation causing depletion of oxygen in the atmosphere and the displacement of wildlife;
- Pollution, the world’s largest single environmental health risk, causing millions of deaths every year. Pollution poisons soil and waterways, kills plants, and harms humans and animals;
- Loss of biodiversity; more plants and animals are nearing extinction as a result of overfishing, deforestation, habitat destruction, pollution, chemical, oil and garbage dumps in water bodies and other factors;
- Oceanic dead zones; oxygen levels in water bodies are depleting until marine life cannot survive.
The global pandemic has put added pressure and stress on humans and the environment.
Landfills are overflowing with plastics, clothes, garbage and other non-biodegradable materials.
The oceans and seas and the creatures inhabiting them are dying due to ingestion of micro plastics and other garbage.
The time has come to reverse the damage we have created and get back to a healthier world.
Upcycling is a great way to achieve this.