The environmental benefits of upcycling are mammoth, aside from minimising the volume of discarded materials and waste being sent to landfill each year, it also reduces the need for production using new or raw materials which means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and often a conservation of global resources. Naturally, we are huge fans of the upcycling phenomenon and want to encourage everyone else to jump on board. So we’ve put together a little fact sheet with all the things you need to know to guide you along your eco-friendly journey.
Environmental Benefits of Upcycling
1. Saving Materials from Landfill
These days, many brands and designers are making very cool stuff from old stuff. Plenty of items that were once en route to landfill have been reclaimed by some very creative people. Did you know that old wine bottles could be transformed into candles? (See photo below) Or that a durable material like firehose could be transformed into sustainably luxe accessories? Our planet barely has enough room for all of us these days, let alone all of our waste. Which is why we think it’s great when people can reclaim materials and give them a new lease on life.
2. Reducing what goes into Landfill
We’ve become so used to things being mass manufactured and made in a heartbeat that we buy things as quickly as we throw things away. Take the fashion industry for example – rapidly changing trends are driving us to a dangerous state of overproduction and overconsumption. Many people buy clothes that they’re only going to wear once and then pop it in the trash a few short months later! What a waste! Back in the day, we used to have to get clothes custom made if we wanted anything new. And that was a very expensive process! So, many families would opt for a visit to the tailor instead – who altered your outfit perfectly to freshen it up a bit or upcycled it into something completely new. This is a great way to cherish the items that you already own and save them from going to the tip.
3. Minimal Use of Natural Resources
Upcycling existing resources means that we don’t have to use any new raw materials in the production process. Did you know that it takes 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt? Crazy, right?! Our planet is already running dangerously low on natural resources so it’s a huge help on the environment when people use old items to create new items.
Social & Economic Benefits of Upcycling
1. Celebrating Artisanal Work and Old School Craftsmanship
Behind every upcycled product, there is a maker who strongly believes in a level of craftsmanship that we just don’t see very much anymore. We’ve experienced decades of mass-produced items that come off the production line duplicated in their thousands. So clothing, homewares, accessories and other everyday items that don’t fit a cookie cutter mould are so very refreshing in our eyes. Upcycled products celebrate people who love making things with their bare hands and encourage a creativity that benefits both the environment and society.
2. Supporting Local and Rural Industry
Another social and economic benefit of upcycling is that it supports small local businesses as well as rural village industries. For example, many of the upcycled products we carry are made by artisans from small communities in Vietnam, India and Mexico – who use their traditional craft skills to produce new items that are able to be sold in a global marketplace. This benefits makers in the developing world, giving them an opportunity to provide for their families through entrepreneurship.
3. Reduced Manufacturing Costs
If designers make items from reclaimed materials, this can drastically reduce their manufacturing costs. Many businesses offer up old items at zero or minimal cost – wooden pallets can be transformed into awesome furniture, clothing fabric can be given new life as rugs and cushions, and old boat sails can even be made into new tote bags!
Personal Benefits of Upcycling
1. Doing your bit for Mother Nature
Nothing beats that warm and fuzzy feeling you get inside when you’ve done something great for the planet. We encourage everyone to personally have a go at upcycling. You’ll be doing your bit to create a more sustainable planet which is pretty awesome. No project is too small – whether you’re just using old tin cans to plant your herbs or cutting busted bike tubes into elastic bands! Each of these little things combined can make a huge difference to preserving the earth.
2. Crafty Repair Skills
Why buy new when you can learn to fix things yourself? Repairing an item and giving it a new life is a great skill and a wonderful feeling. Pick up a needle and thread and learn how to patch those jeans. Grab a hammer and some nails and fix that bedside table. Or take those old sheets and transform them into some new dishcloths for the kitchen. The possibilities are endless!
3. One-of-a-kind Items
Whether you’re upcycling things yourself or buying products from designers, it’s always nice to know that you have something that is completely unique. Every upcycled item is one of a kind and has a beautiful history behind it – which makes them fantastic for gifts as well.
We think that the benefits of upcycling far outweigh the benefits of buying new – but hey, we are a little bit biased here! If you’re new to the upcycling world then check out our store to give you some inspiration. People are so clever and creative these days and are so great at transforming old stuff into cool new stuff!