Upcycling means simply adding value to an item or article of waste. [BLANK] The idea? It’s in the transformation of one item or article of waste into another item. Whether it’s everyday items or art, the idea is kind of exciting, right?
A second or other life for waste
At home, as the good citizens you are, you recycle and sort your waste. But after that, do you know what happens to it? It takes one of 2 paths. The most common is downcycling, which is when raw materials are extracted from your waste. These recovered materials are then released back into the industrial system.
Upcycling is the second option. We’re talking about recycling upwards. The idea? An item or article of waste gets a second life that is better than its first. Who hasn’t dreamed the same for their own life?
With the principle that nothing is lost, but instead everything is transformed, the creativity is the key word of upcycling. Some people have even made it their hobby or job. You can find dozens of examples of upcycling to inspire you on the Internet or around you.
Upcycling: using waste as a raw material
We have so much waste… at home, at work, in our neighborhoods: what can we do about it?
Items of everyday life (furniture, flower boxes) made from pallets
Lamps created out of basically anything that’s not being used around the house
Bags or rags using old clothing or pieces of fabric
Parts of pipes can make storage
Tons of paper mache creations
And how do you learn to do all this? Websites like Pinterest, workshops or even your local craft store can offer up ideas for you to undertake.
Just a little side note: to transform your work into useful items or art, rent tools (a sander, drill-driver, precision mitre saw, etc.) from Usitoo.
And if you’re not so much an artistic or creative person, you can buy works of art from ingenious entrepreneurs. When buying or renting, you’ll find cardboard furniture for your events or chairs for children made from plastic waste.
Recycled art: when waste becomes art
Artists have found an infinite source of inspiration in items destined for the bin. That’s why some are referring to it as recycled art.
Art from “junk”… what an interesting concept! Amateurs (or professionals) of this art have fun browsing flea markets, waste recycling centres, donation centres, trash day… They’re looking for treasure. Their materials can also be found day-to-day or on the street: cans, pieces of wood or plastic, glass, etc.
And that itself is beautiful: take a look at the work of Guerra de la Paz and his colossal pieces made of old clothes. You would be astonished by Khalil Chishtee. He creates intriguing sculptures from plastic bags. Not to mention the many artists of recycled material jewelry.
You upcycle without realising it
Like Mr Jordain in Molière’s Bourgeois Gentilhomme, who speaks prose without knowing it, you could be upcycling without even realising it.
You could use:
bottles (plastic or glass) as vases or put in boots to help them keep their shape
pickle jars as jam jars, tealights or mini terrariums…
egg cartons to store your Christmas ornaments
paper to make paper mache
As soon as you give a single-use item a second life, you take the first step towards upcycling.
Upcycling starts at a young age
Even with your kids, you’re reusing “waste“. Who hasn’t painted with corks? Cans make great pencil or brush holders. Jewelry is created from old buttons or coffee capsules (but it’s probably better to avoid these capsules, under penalty of ending up with a necklace every 3 days
And what about the mother’s and father’s day gifts that you used to bring home from school? The teacher often uses “waste” as a raw material (for example, a pie box). Your children have certainly discovered upcycling techniques, such as making the well-known paper mache.
Walk around your home and take a look at (or invent) the transformations of your items. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
Usitoo’s main principle is to give items multiple lives that, had we not been there, might have ended up in the bin. See for yourself in our catalogue of several hundred objects for rent that are living their second lives.