What is upcycling:
Upcycling is the process of reusing something that would otherwise be considered waste. It is a type of recycling that doesn’t require additional resources and energy to transform it back to a usable state, it is to repurpose materials. An example of recycling would be to use a container and put it in the recycling bin to be broken down and turned into reusable material, if you were to upcycle the container, you could use the container as a pot for plants or a storage container with a new purpose.
There are many downsides to recycling that upcycling resolves. Recycling is often costly because of the amount of time and energy it takes to breakdown and transform the material including the infrastructure needed to do so. Rinkesh of Conserve Energy Future, in his article “Advantages and Disadvantages of Recycling,” explains that, “The quality of products manufactured from recycled waste may not be at par regarding quality. These kinds of products are almost always made of trashed waste material collected from mountains of other waste materials that have been overly utilized and fragile. This makes products of recycled waste less durable and low-priced.” Where recycling is expensive and reduces the quality of products, “Upcycling increases quality and lifetimes of materials and products, reduces wastes, creates employment opportunities, and encourages sustainable consumer behavior,” as laid out in the text “Resources, Conservation, and Recycling: Volume 150.”
As consumers grow increasingly concerned with environmental causes, entrepreneurs have caught on to this trend and are starting to make upcycling the premise of their businesses. Why discard something or reduce its quality when it very well may be utilized for something different and resold? Some materials are difficult to recycle but with enough creativity can be repurposed. The beauty of upcycling is the unlimited potential, there is no limit on what you can make. The savviest business tries to lower initial costs and what better way to do so than upcycling. From textiles to food waste, businesses are learning to make new what was once considered trash.
One creative example of upcycling in business is Alchemy Goods. As mentioned in Trash to Treasure, Alchemy Goods transforms bicycle inner tubes and advertising banners into durable messenger bags, wallets, and belts. This innovative solution reduces waste that is difficult to recycle while providing a quality product that can last a lifetime — talk about turning trash into gold!
Entrepreneurs are always looking to meet the needs of their consumers. In the spirit of creativity, cutting costs, and being on-trend, upcycling seems like entrepreneurs’ new best friend.
Who is Kelsey?
Kelsey Rumburg is a creator and a builder dedicated to inspiring social and environmental change through her words and actions. Check out her book, Trash to Treasure, for more information. Follow her Instagram, @trashtotreasuremindset, to stay up to date on all things #trashy!