Recycling is a process that has been practiced for centuries with recorded advocates tracing back to Plato in 400 BC. While recycling has its benefits, environmentalists have been uneasy for several years, with the conviction that recycling can have adverse effects such as paper recycling leading to a reduction of tree populations. In addition, environmentalists fear that the process of recycling requires unnecessary use of natural power and water resources. In 1994, an alternative concept called upcycling began to emerge. Author and Professor Reiner Pilz coined the term upcycling, defined in his popular quote: “Recycling is technically downcycling. They smash bricks; they smash everything, causing it to decrease in value. What we need is upcycling where old products are given more value not less.” It did not take long for upcycling to generate a following. The books Upcycling and Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things were published in the late 1990’s and by 2002, the concept transformed into a movement. Presently, the movement is on the brink of revolution and has had a profound impact on the interior design industry. By formal definition, Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Aside from added quality and environmental value, upcyling is an excellent outlet for creativity and fun! Here are 3 easy ways to upcycle old materials into unique interior furnishings.
Do you have old, worn luggage? Before you throw it out or take it to Goodwill, consider the many possibilities of using it to decorate your home. The nightstand table featured below is just one of many ways to upcycle old luggage. It couldn’t be a simpler project, simply stack and relax!
If you enjoy a glass of champagne, then you probably have thrown away a cork or two in your lifetime. Next time you are on the verge of tossing one out, consider ways that corks can be upcycled. Using corks as drawer pulls will add creative, vintage flair to any room. In addition, corks are comfortable to the touch and durable, making them a perfect alternative to ceramic drawer pulls.
You might be surprised how easy it is to get your hands on a wooden crate that is on the verge of being wasted. Every year, manufacturing and distribution plants throw out enough wood and paper to heat over 5 million homes, a portion of the waste is from the disposal of wooden crates. All you have to do is call into a manufacturing or distribution plant and ask for a wooden packaging crate and you have completed the first step in making a stunning, unique, and environmentally sustainable coffee table. Next purchase 4 coaster wheels at your local hardware store and mount one wheel onto each corner of the crate. Finally, flip it over and top the upside with a recycled (or new) piece of glass resting on nonslip clear rubber pads. The simplicity and practicality of upcycling is amazing, making it a raging trend in modern interior design.
Upcycling is financially, environmentally, and aesthetically innovative. Even luxury-goods firms like Hermès are a part of the revolution, repurposing leftover scraps from their signature scarves and Birkin bags for a home furnishings and accessories line dubbed “petit h.”
Ultimately upcycling is a sexier and greener version of recycling. The process produces higher quality products that are greater in value and friendlier to our environment. Now it’s your turn to collect old materials, unleash your creative potential, and join the upcycling revolution.