Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
We talked about the impending EU Demolition Waste Streams directive. “Recycling,” he said, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling- where old products are given more value, not less.”
Since then, “upcycling” has become one of those trendy phrases you see all over the internet. Upcycling differs from recycling in that the product in question is not broken down into component materials. Upcycling differs from reusing in that while it reuses a product in (basically) in its original form, this is done in a way that adds value to the piece beyond what it had originally. Using the air cleaner housing of an old car as a container for plants may be clever, but it is not increasing the value of the air cleaner housing, unless you do something unique to it.
One item commonly seen recently is the Baby Grand Bookshelf. You may question whether the bookcase has more monetary value than a Baby Grand piano, but Movology.com points out that moving a piano can cost hundreds of dollars. Offering a now unwanted Baby Grand for little or no cost to a friend or relative who wants one may prove mutually beneficial, even after said friend pays for the move. However if said piano has a cracked soundboard offering it, even for free, will be a dud deal because the cost of moving it and restoring it will be higher than the cost of a new one. In that case, turning it into something other than a piano may be the perfect way to salvage a large part of a beautiful piece of casegoods, save the the cost of having it moved out, and keep it out of the landfill or junk yard.
If you are a bicycle rider or know any bicycle riders, you can probably lay your hands on a punctured bike inner tube for free. Do you need a wallet, or want one that screams “I’M GREEN” every time you pull it out? Make this wallet from a bike inner tube. All it requires is a pair of scissors and a sewing machine. Instructions are HERE.
Altoids are a popular breath mint that comes in a nifty metal box. These pocket sized tins are quite popular with the D.I.Y. set for projects that run the gamut from simple storage organizers to swing kits, to survival kits, to a wide variety of electronics projects. Here is the Instructible.com page listing a bunch.
Below is a gallery of other upcycling ideas. Have some of your own? Feel free to share in the comments (photos allowed).