Upcycling: the new frontier of sustainability

From fashion to interior design, from construction to art, there are several areas where creative recycling finds application in its practical form to promote new models of sustainable development.

In an era where the forging culture is now firmly entrenched in our daily lives, we are gradually losing some of our best qualities such as ingenuity, creativity, ingenuity and the art of coping.

We are so convinced that with money you can buy everything we have finally put aside the idea of ​​being able to recycle or repair old items instead of creating new waste.

Fortunately, the period of uncertainty due to the pandemic and shutdowns has shifted the focus from unbridled consumerism to greater awareness of the value of things.

A particularly interesting fact in this sense is the new recycling practices, such as upcycling and downcycling, whose main purpose is to reduce the environmental impact in order to promote a sustainable development model that is closely linked tocircular economy.

Recycling and creative recycling: the differences

The difference between recycling and upcycling is all in the “up”: while in the traditional recycling process, the waste materials are transformed to be used in the same production sector or in any case to fulfill an identical function, with creative recycling the value and purpose qualities change and become superior compared to its predecessor.

The first example of upcycling in history dates back to 1963, when the Dutch company Heineken introduced Wobobeer bottles that, when used, could be recycled as building blocks.

From here, it is easy to understand how the benefits of upcycling are numerous and mainly relate to the recycling of resources and protection of the environment, which significantly reduces the “one-time approach” of modern society with the aim of extending its life cycle. use.

In this way, we not only prevent certain products from becoming waste, but also make the use of natural resources more efficient in order to minimize our environmental impact.

In a simplified way, we could define upcycling as a set of all the actions that allow you to give new life to an object that has gone out of use or is destined to be thrown in the trash, as when we transform a bottle of milk into a flower vase or let’s create a bookcase with old wooden boxes.

Benefits and limitations of upcycling

As with recycling, the recycling of raw materials also promotes in upcycling the recycling of waste materials destined for landfills, to reduce the production of waste and the introduction of potentially polluting production processes.

In addition, the fact that the recycled items do not undergo extensive transformations in their appearance also results in low energy consumption, mainly due to the lack of numerous steps typical of the traditional recycling process, such as transport, sorting of raw materials and their conversion into recyclable materials in other production chains.

But as with everything, upcycling also has a number of disadvantages that are worth considering in terms of resource improvement.

The main limitation of creative recycling is that the new object, created after careful restoration work, has a greater value than the original, and which consequently becomes more expensive and inevitably places itself in a niche segment of the market.

Secondly, since upcycling does not ensure that the disposal of the goods has to be transformed, there is a real risk that their traceability will be lost, leading to companies and entrepreneurs with not “clear” intentions using this practice as pretext for disposing of waste illegally.

Upcycling ideas to make at home

Having clarified the limits and benefits of upcycling, let’s now see how you do it at home with a few simple tricks that can really make a difference in terms of ecology and respect for the environment.

In fact, very often it happens to store objects that have exhausted their function, in the basement or in the wardrobe, and to give them a new life means to make its contribution to protecting the planet, without sacrificing the aesthetic and functional value of the creations.

Using paint, grinders and band saws – read here for more information on do-it-yourself and do-it-yourself tools – it is possible to restore old furniture to renew its design and decorate it with decorations with a significant aesthetic effect.

Glass is also a versatile material that can be recycled indefinitely: it is enough to paint empty jars, for example, to turn them into object holders or candlesticks to be placed in the garden.

Similarly, empty bottles of wine or spirits can become original table lamps or candelabra, while wooden fruit boxes decorated with a vintage paint are the perfect base for creating a bookcase or bedside tables for a country-style bedroom.

On the other hand, wooden stairs and pallets can be reused as towel rails in shabby chic bathrooms or to build outdoor planters and armchairs.

With Lego bricks that children no longer use, we can create beautiful pencil holders that are put on the desk in the bedroom, while bird cages can be turned into Art Nouveau chandeliers.

In short, with a little imagination and dexterity, any item that has reached the end of its life can be transformed into a valuable asset without going through a return to a raw material, as is the case with recycling.

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