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Upcycling – time to get on board!

11th April 2014 by Alessandro Maccioni

Upcycling is something we feel very passionate about here at JunkWize. As a rubbish removal company we are always on the lookout for fresh, creative ideas when it comes to dealing with junk.

So what exactly is upcycling, and how does it differ from recycling?

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking they are very similar, however there is quite a big difference between the two processes. As you know, recycling is the process of breaking down materials – usually glass, plastic, metal and paper – into their base form so that they can be reused in a new consumer product. Upcycling, on the other hand, involves transforming junk into quirky new objects, giving them added value or purpose in the process.

If you no longer have a use for it, it can be upcycled!

If you no longer have a use for it, it can be upcycled!

So what can you upcycle I hear you eagerly ask? Well, practically anything – plastic bottles, bags, newspapers, cans, juice cartons, glass jars, wine bottles, clothes – so long as you don’t have a use for it anymore. And when it comes to ideas, nothing is too obscure – we’ve seen wellington boots refashioned into plant pots, broken CDs styled into jewelry and this old suitcase which had been ingeniously transformed into a stylish chair.

Ideas needn’t be small scale either. A couple of grander projects include Samsung’s innovative use of old shipping containers for their showroon during the Sochi games and Google’s inspiring story of Andrew Willis who created a skate park in East London using old materials left over from the Olympics.

While Upcycling may seem like a modern trend, especially considering the countless number of craft blogs and Pinterest boards devoted to the hobby, the concept isn’t a new one. In fact, some of the best examples date back to the 1930s and 40s, when the harsh economic backdrop created a culture of thrift. This was an era when sacks were transformed into clothes, tires into buckets, heck even the dining table could well have been an upcycled door!

While the practice has remained in our culture ever since, the actual term is much more modern. Credit here goes the German, Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH, who in a 1994 interview for Salvo magazine, said of recycling, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks. They smash everything. What we need is upcycling – where old products are given more value, not less”.

Pilz’s gripe was that too often we choose to recycle so-called junk without giving a thought as to what it could be made into. And while here will always be a need for recycling and rubbish collection, if you’re thinking of doing a clear-out this spring just remember to put your creative cap on first!

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