Reducing: buying less, buying products with less packaging, planning ahead for making less waste.
Recycling: returning something to a plant that will make it into the same product or something similar, such as aluminum cans.
Reusing: 'Nuff said. Use it again. And again. And again.
Repurposing: finding a new use for a product. Chuck brings home Chinese food, Daisy turns the foil dish into a small baking pan. A store receipt becomes a bookmark. Old t-shirts get torn into strips to hold tomato plants to their supports. You get the picture.
So how is upcycling different? Upcycling takes repurposing to a new level. An object gets repurposed with an attitude, so to speak. One famous example is the old television turned into an aquarium. Not everyone can take upcycling that far, but think accessible. Think possibilities. Glasses from the thrift store can turn into candles for teacher gifts (mine was cinnamon, very pretty!). A pretty t-shirt gains a ruffled skirt and becomes a little girl dress (I bought one from a crafter and La Petite, then age 5, loved it). I'd place my rain barrels in this category, too; two fewer big plastic barrels in the landfill, used for a very eco-friendly purpose.
I don't sew well enough to quilt, or some of Chuck's and Amigo's favorite t-shirts might become quilts or throw pillows instead of rags or tomato supports. I think the old-socks turned white-board erasers is more of a repurposing; it's not a step up in the world for the sock, although it does make it more colorful. How about the polka dot chair project? I don't think that qualifies as upcycling; the chairs are still chairs, just cuter than they were at first.
So, dear readers, add to the list.
- What does it take for repurposing to become upcycling? Does the coffee can full of pencils count, or is it more of a simple repurpose?
- What have you upcycled - or seen and admired as an example of upcycling?
- No, I don't consider Brett Favre in a Purple uniform to be an example of upcycling. That's an example of - never mind.