Value-added recycling

National Recycle Week – Day 3

Today is National Upcycling Day!

Actually, I was a bit confused about what counts as ‘upcycling’ so I decided to find a definition. The Oxford Dictionaries web site defines upcycling as follows:

Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original

Well of course, once you start talking about increasing value, you have to consider what your definition of value is. For me, any re-used or repaired object that was going to enter the waste stream has had its value increased by being rescued from this fate. However, upcycling carries the suggestion of making something more fancy or using it for something other than its original purpose. This means that my repeated repairs of slippers, socks and clothes in general are not really upcycling.

Mr Snail’s gate from a pallet

So, I’m beginning to wonder if I have anything that I could really describe as ‘upcycled’. I suppose that Mr Snail’s palletgate is an example of upcycling, because he actually modified something (a pallet) to turn it into something different (a gate). I’m also using frogged (unravelled) and washed yarn for some of my knitting projects (bath puffs and hexi-puffs for my beekeeper’s quilt). But mostly, we don’t do this sort of thing. We do repair like mad, which means that most things around the house are still being used for their original purpose – often long after most people would have thrown them away.

So, whilst I salute all you upcyclers out there, I have to confess that I’m not very good at it. What about everybody else? Do you upcycle? Have you made glorious objects out of discarded items?

If you want to see some great examples of upcycling check out Remade in Britain – it’s a shop, but there’s lots of inspiration too, in fact they have an A-Z of upcycling here. Also today on Twitter Jen @makeandmendyear is doing an A to Z of upcycling techniques, with links to tutorials, which is fun.

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