The Difference Between “Upcycle”and “Recycle”
Recycling is Earth-friendly but not always fashion-friendly.
The issue is often one of perception. For example, phrases like “rusty recycled metal” or “old sheet metal from my grandparents’ backyard” isn’t going to convince anyone. This is where “upcycling” comes in.
In the most basic sense, recycling involves breaking an item down to its base components. From there, those components are reassembled and used to make new things. Upcycling, by comparison, is adding value to old things instead of destroying them.
One of my favorites, worthless old pennies used to make a copper penny wall
You can find examples of this everywhere. Pinterest is a goldmine of upcycling ideas, as is YouTube. There are even entire websites dedicated to educating people on how to do it. Popular home and gardening magazines are also publishing more stories and DIY guides.
There are many reasons that this trend has become more popular. As mentioned before, it allows for more customization and affordable decoration. Especially if you want vintage decoration, DIY upcycling is excellent.
But that isn’t all. An increased awareness in environmental sustainability is contributing to the popularity. The average person wears and discards almost 5,511 lbs (2,500 kg) of clothing over their lifetime. All of this has an enormous environmental cost. It takes about 1,800 gallons of water to grow the cotton needed to make one pair of jeans. And that doesn’t include the water needed to grow the plants used to make dye. The numbers are staggering.
By reusing and upcycling materials for decoration, you can help reduce your impact on your environment as well as your wallet.
Old steel barrels used to make outdoor furniture
One of our customers used old doors and copper to create a vintage copper-topped table. This video has good advice on how to roll copper, even though they are making a new table from scratch. Similarly, reclaimed wood is a popular upcycling material.
Do you have any upcycling projects you are particularly proud of? Send us pictures and happy DIYing!