We thought we should spell out what we mean by Upcycling here. So the official definition is:
‘reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. ‘
Simple enough. Except ‘value’ is a pretty subjective term. And reuse can mean a whole host of things. So here is what we mean by upcycling:
Repurpose & Reuse
We are talking about straight up reuse of something old for a new purpose. Classics would be reusing an old boot as a planter or sticking some castor wheels on a pallet and using it as a coffee table.
Refresh, rejuvenate, revive.
This is about making something old more desirable. This would include painting, sanding, varnishing, refashioning something so it is more attractive to a modern eye. So you might still be using that dresser as a dresser but it isn’t a bog standard pine anymore, you’ve vamped it up with grey chalk paint and a pink neon lighting bolt running up the front (or pretty flowers…you get the idea!)
Create & Re-create
Crafting existing materials into something wildly different. So these would be upcycles where you can’t immediately tell what the material was it was made off. Rag rugs might be an example, or beaded jewellery made out of scraps of magazine.
A lot of people like upcycling because it avoids sending the materials used to landfill. We like that too and it is a big part of why we do what we do.
But is upcycling always the most environmental choice? Well we can’t claim that.
Many upcycling projects involve the use of new materials and sometimes chemicals (paints, glues, etc). So while upcycling should in most cases be better for the environment than buying a completely new item we can’t claim that that is always the case.
The most environmentally friendly approach would be to use your ‘stuff’ for longer without modification or to upcycle it using only other existing materials that might also otherwise be thrown away.
Creating something ‘new’ from found objects is a super interesting subset of the upcycling community and it is one we will absolutely be featuring but it isn’t the only kind of upcycling we will feature.
Where we are
In order to spread the word about reuse, repurposing and reducing waste we here at Upcycle My Stuff believe we have to meet people where they are.
And where we are as a society is a place where we are used to readily available replacements when things stop working or become unfashionable. It is also a place where we are used to having our appetite for the visually appealling sated.
We don’t think we can move the needle on those huge societal issues. What we do think we can play a role in is subtly changing minds about what can be reused, what creativity looks like and maybe adding a bit more ‘made from old chic’ into the collective mindset.
We aren’t here to judge – we are consumers too. We can make it easier for you to come up with ways to not trash your potential treasures though, and that is what we intend to do!
Another thing we love about upcycling is transformation. It is truly uplifting and inspiring to see something unwanted and unloved transformed by hard work and ingenuity into something desirable again.
We think upcycling your ‘stuff’ be that your clothes, your furniture or your rubbish provides mental health benefits – a sense of achievement and a sense of fun among them.
We hope we can inspire you to take on projects at home or to work with a small business to re-imagine what your old stuff could be.
Copyright 2019 Upcycle My Stuff