Recycling vs. Upcycling
Recycling takes consumer materials and breaks them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality. When you upcycle an item, you aren’t breaking down the materials. You may be refashioning it but it’s still made of the same materials as when you started. Also, the upcycled item is typically better or the same quality as the original.
Upcycling is not a new concept. It has long been a means of production in folk art. The Amish quilt, for example, came about through reapplication of salvaged fabric, upcycling. Some of the best examples of modern day upcycling come from the 1930s-40s when families had very little economic or material resources. In this age of thrift, they reused almost everything, repurposing items over and over until they were no longer useful.
Thrift is still a trend today and a big reason some people upcycle. Others enjoy the artistic aesthetic, with lots of upcycled items rivaling those found in high-end department stores. Upcycling has seen an increase in recent years due to its current marketability as consumers seek environmentally friendly options. This combined with the lowered cost of reused materials makes the purchase of upcycled products a sensible and economical choice for the average consumer.
Below are some interesting examples of upcycling.
From something old comes something new.
Cardboard Animal Sculptures
Montreal based artist, Laurence Vallières creates incredible cardboard animal sculptures. These spectacular sculptures are created by layering cutouts from found cardboard boxes.
Sculptures by Laurence Vallieres
Japanese artist Haroshi makes upcycled skateboard art from salvaged skateboard decks. His beautiful 3 dimensional skateboard sculptures are created from layers of stacked skateboards.
Bicycle chain chandeliers.
Check out these magnificent bicycle chain chandeliers Made by Carolina Fontoura Alzaga of Facaro.
Work by Carolina Fontoura Alzaga
The Cardboard Bike
Izhar Gafni is an Israeli engineer that has figured out how to make a cardboard bike. The cardboard bike, called the Alfa, can support riders weighing up to 485 pounds.
Engineered by Izhar Gafni
Washing Machine Drum Lights
These washing machine drum lights are the latest invention of Helsinki based, Dutch designer Willem Heeffer. These lamps are made from used washing machine drums and powder coated in retro colours.
Designer Willhem Heeffer
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