Recycling or Upcycling


| 3/21/2017 3:31:00 PM


Tags: upcycling, Laura Berlage, Wisconsin, thrifty projects, repurposing,

sweaterdress

Upcycled sweater “dress” Kara helped me make from thrift store finds.  Photo by Steve Barnes.

I grew up learning the mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” for making an environmental impact in the home.  We carefully cleaned and sorted glass, aluminum, plastics of certain numbers, and saved up paper and cardboard so it could magically have a new life beyond our home.  As a kid, we still had to take the labels off all the jars too!  It’s certainly much simpler to recycle most consumer products today…except Styrofoam, no one seems to know how to reuse that one yet.

Because of products like Styrofoam (which will still be kicking around millennia from now), another item was added to the mantra—refuse.  Not only could you reduce your waste, reuse items more than once, and recycle others, but you could purposefully “refuse” to purchase items that couldn’t be reused or recycled. 

At Farmstead, all our takeout containers are either made from pressed sugarcane pulp (which easily composts) or post-consumer recycled plastic (which can be recycled again), which means no Styrofoam.  We simply refuse to buy it and stock it.  The more people who refuse to buy environmentally non-friendly products, the less market demand that product will have, and eventually companies will respond by producing less of it.  Why make it if people won’t buy it!

Upcycling Trend

But there is yet even another trendy term being added to the growing list of things you can do to make a difference.  It doesn’t start with “re” though.  The new word of the day is “upcycle.”  In its verb form, upcycling means taking something that is no longer wanted in its original form and transforming it into something new and useful.  It’s distinct from “reuse” in that it changes form, but it’s not the whole energy-intense process that plastics or paper undergoes in order to be “recycled.”




Crowd at Seven Springs MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Sept. 15-17, 2017
Seven Springs, PA.

With more than 150 workshops, there is no shortage of informative demonstrations and lectures to educate and entertain you over the weekend.

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