Upcycling

Whether you call it upcycling, creative reuse, or trash to treasure, everyone’s doing it. So what is “it” exactly? Here’s a definition.

up·cy·cle
/ˈəpˌsīkəl/
verb
reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.
“the opportunity to upcycle trash, or turn it into new products, was vast”

The term Upcycling was recorded in Salvo in 1994 (page 14). In the article, Reiner Pilz explains to journalist Thornton Kay the importance of creating something better from reuse.

We talked about the impending EU Demolition Waste Streams directive. “Recycling,” he said, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling- where old products are given more value, not less.” He despairs of the German situation and recalls the supply of a large quantity of reclaimed woodblock from an English supplier for a contract in Nuremberg while just down the road a load of similar blocks was scrapped. In the road outside his premises, was the result of the Germans’ demolition waste recycling. It was a pinky looking aggregate with pieces of handmade brick, old tiles and discernible parts of useful old items mixed with crushed concrete. Is this the future for Europe?

Long before that, artists and innovators have created with reuse materials through folk art, found objects, and assemblage. It wasn’t until the 2000s that upcycling became more mainstream. The recent economic downturn combined with the increased awareness of environmental stewardship has helped fueled this movement and artists and savvy consumers have not only embraced the idea but have created a demand. The DIY movement allows us to be creative, get empowered and create solutions that are innovative yet practical. Not only that but Upcycling is budget-friendly as well. It’s a fun way to save a little green by being green.