The term “recycling” has become rooted in our vernacular. But drop the word “upcycling” into conversation, and you may be met with a blank stare. Upcycling involves converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Though the word may be new, thrift is not a new concept.
Prior to the ’50s or so, upcycling was actually commonplace. Everything was used until it was in no way beneficial. Today’s upcyclers put just about anything they can find to good use. For example: tires and bike tubes are transformed into flip flops and belts; wooden pallets are fashioned into furniture and flooring; broken guitar strings evolve as jewelry; juice boxes get new life as handbags.
It’s unlikely you have the means to remanufacture your own stuff. But before discarding an unused item, try to think of another purpose for it. If you can’t, consider donating to thrift centers (such as Salvation Army or Goodwill) or even church rummage sales. Find a FreeCycle Network™ in your neighborhood where you can give unwanted goods to folks who may need them, reducing waste and keeping good stuff out of landfills.