Upcycling, Downcycling, Recycling – What’s the Difference?

When I first heard the term ‘upcycle’ I thought people were talking about biking up a hill, when someone tried to explain the meaning of this new term I thought why not just stick to the word ‘recycle’. So is ‘upcycling’ really a word? If it is what is the difference between ‘upcycling’ and ‘recycling’??

Let me explain a bit about the meaning of upcycling. Generally there are two ways to recycle – upcycling and downcycling. Upcycling aims to make use of existing materials, reusing these in a way that will add value without using up new raw materials.

This is the opposite of downcycling which involves extracting valuable materials from the product to create a lower quality result. Recycling on an industrial scale usually consists of the latter, but upcycling is becoming more popular especially among young artists and designers.

I am even getting the bug at home, converting old pieces of furniture into shelving or books into chair legs. My flatmate obviously stops me at a point to prevent the house looking like a flea market, but you get the idea..

I’m trying my best at some DIY and creating some artistic pieces of practical furniture.┬áMy personal favourite is our very own upcycled toilet/plant pot.

As the upcycling trend continues to spread, from furniture to fashion design, I am beginning to wonder whether I will ever have to shop again. I keep finding beautiful things in my own home I can make use of to make something quirky yet functional.

Working on the things you already have doesn’t only limit what you throw away but it also improves what you choose to keep.