Did you know? 

Upcycling is the transformation of turning waste materials or unwanted products into new products of higher quality than the original products. The term upcycling is relatively new, it was coined in 1994 by Reiner Pilz who stated, “what we need is upcycling where old products are given more value not less.”

Linear economy (take, make, dispose) and circular economy (make, use, recycle)

Circular methods such as reusing, upcycling, and repurposing shifts away from linear thinking (take, make, and dispose) reducing the demand for new materials and products. It’s a great way to be conscious of our waste by reducing our impact on the environment.

How to get started…

Let’s rethink our waste and give it a second life. Upcycling is all about being as creative as possible. It’s reusing an item to make it new and improved — it can be achieved through paint, new upholstery, add-ons, etc.

Here are a few ideas to get inspired to start a project of your own.

  1. Turn an old picture frame into a chalkboard mantle decor.
A picture frame turned into chalkboard mantel decor

A picture frame turned into chalkboard mantel decor. All you need is a picture frame, paint, a piece of plywood painted with chalkboard black paint, and nails.

2. Glass and plastic jars are infinitely useful. Reuse glass jars to make hanging planters and more!

3. Turn mason jars into a DIY herb garden.

Mason jars repurposed for an indoor herb garden

4. Repurpose old wooden crates into a table.

5. Cut plastic bags into smaller pieces to make “plarn”, plastic yarn, for crocheting. Make your own plarn grocery tote bag.

6. Learn the art of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery by repairing fractures in powder gold lacquer. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty.

In the time of COVID-19…

The pandemic has had tremendous impacts on the waste sector. It’s important to be conscious of our waste and reduce our environmental impacts as much as possible. Upcycling supports the idea of “cradle to cradle,” the eradication of the idea of waste. It promotes sustainable innovation and can provide a fun and creative activity, meanwhile preserving our precious resources.

Next time you think of throwing an item out, think of innovative ways to give it a second life!

Curious to learn more?

  • Recycling company, Terracycle, collects post-consumer waste which they then upcycle into new, usable goods. Terracycle provides tips on upcycling projects on their website here!
  • The Ottawa Tool Library hosts repair cafes which are “free, community-led events where volunteer Fixers and Menders assist visitors with repairing broken household items, including small appliances, textiles, electronics, furniture, and more!”
  • Don’t have time to DIY? Re4m is an Ottawa company that reclaims and rescues materials to turn it into new products.

Monday, July 20, 2020 in ,
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