How Do You Upcycle?

When someone upcycles, they transform generally unwanted products into something new. Upcycling is much like repurposing, though it often takes on a creative reinterpretation of an item. Think of posts on social media that go gaga over an old-fashioned suitcase used as the frame for a chair. Or there’s a more sentimental choice, like making throw pillowcases out of the clothing of late loved ones. Bringing new life into what would otherwise be thrown away, upcycling creates products that are of greater value to everyone.  

Some upcycle their clothes. Whether it’s making an old shirt a useful tote bag or taking pieces of outdated shirts for a patchwork tunic, upcycling clothes is seen as a way to make the clothing last longer. It’s both economical for those who can sew together new outfits and more environmentally friendly for those who are against fast fashion. 

Others are fans of the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” These are the people that turn an old roll top desk into a vertical garden or grab a beautiful but unused vase to transform into a table lamp. Forgetting what convention says items should be used for, these upcyclers express themselves by redefining an item’s purpose. 

Even cows upcycle! Farmers get creative with how to limit waste when they work to feed the world. In the kitchen, cows upcycle the byproducts that never make it to people’s next meal. From the grains leftover from that evening beer or the almond hulls collected from the almond butter on your morning toast, cows eat the food byproducts humans can’t or won’t eat. In your closet, cows are responsible for eating cottonseed separated from the cotton that creates comfy bedding and lightweight shirts. No wonder dairy farmers affectionately refer to cows as the ultimate upcyclers! 

How do you take part in the trendy way to repurpose items?