Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Upcycling vs. Recycling

upcycle recycle question symbol

So, in my efforts to label the items I feature in my blog, I became stumped when dealing with the upcycle/recycle tag. What made something upcycled as opposed to just recycled? For that matter, what the heck is the difference between the two?

Turns out, it's not too easy for anyone to define.

My initial thought was that if you turn something that would normally go straight to the trash into a craft or art then it would be recycling. If you turn something that wouldn't necessarily be trash into an art/craft, that would be upcycling. 

--But then that didn't make sense... really, if you're turning trash, which is low in value, into art, which is high in value, it'd make more sense to call that UPcycling since you're bringing the material UP in the value level. Recycling would make more sense as turning something of any given value, possibly high, into another high value item... you're just turning one thing into another, or recycling it. But that didn't seem right just because of our fairly set ideas of what recycling is. Sigh... Time to do some Googling, lol.

So, Wikipedia says this, Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value which goes along with my initial thoughts. 

It says this about recycling, Recycling is a process to change (waste) materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling)... It gives some specific examples of what can be recycled, such as glasspapermetalplastictextiles, and electronics. -- I take this to mean as opposed to the more specific jeans, keyboards, wine bottle, etc., which are not necessarily trash.

--So far, I'm still confused.

Terracycle states: Upcycling is defined as using or valuing every aspect of waste in order to give it a new useful life." & "Recycling is defined as extracting materials from one product and using them to make an entirely new product.

--Wait, what? That's not much of a differentiation there, but I guess it makes sense...

Intercongreen, a site all about sustainability takes a little different stance. On upcycling: A process that can be repeated in perpetuity of returning materials back to a pliable, usable form without degradation to their latent value—moving resources back up the supply chain.  An example given is tin cans melted down and made into new cans.

They also have this to say about upcycling: More than once I have seen people broadcasting their “upcycling” habits like making wallets from tires, or lawn chairs from pallets, or tables from wire spools. These are examples of recycling. None of those materials are going back UP the supply chain (the series of processes that an industry uses to create a product or service.) They are just making the chain a bit longer.

On recycling: When plastic bottles are recycled, for instance, most often they cannot be turned back into containers associated with anything that can be ingested due to the risk of things seeping into the plastic. As a result, these usually become carpets, or toys, or winter fleeces: things that will eventually also become trash. Recycling has simply prolonged the inevitable by stretching out our waste stream and made the lifecycle costs of the material a bit less.


Maybe there's the "technical" and possibly true usage of the term that people in the sustainability field use, but with the recent surge of DIY incorporating the term into their craft it has just come to mean making new things from old things. 

Personally, I think it's just a trendy term and just plain sounds better that saying recycled.

So there you have it. I'm sticking to my original thoughts on usage and the RECYCLED label will go on items that have been made from things that *I think* would otherwise go straight to the trash, such as these Fused Bottle Business Card Holders and UPCYCLED labels will go on items that have been made from something else that would otherwise still be usable (but possible old/torn/broken/etc) like these Lego notebooks.

Does anyone have comments or thoughts on the difference in the two or on the recent increased usage of the term Upcycled? I wanna hear your thoughts!

!!!OH, I do want to voice my thought on using these terms when they don't really apply. Example: if you PURCHASE your plastic grocery bags to use in your craft it is NOT recycling. hmmm... is it upcycling though? I truly don't believe so, but maybe you have a different opinion.

Keep creating!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Uniquely Green Fashion - Magazine Pages Belt by Chuletindesigns

Super clever and creative idea!

I never get tired of seeing the amazing creations made from recycled and upcycled things! And when it's fashion you get to be green and look great!

Visit Chuletindesigns' Etsy shop for more unique fashion finds!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Uniquely Nostalgic - Poloroid Jewelry by jerseymaids

I think these are the cutest things ever! Jewelry, and other items, made from real Polaroid images!

I love the look of Polaroid pictures; the old style, with the big white border perfect for jotting down quotes and dates and other clever things. Makes me think of being a silly kid and wanting snapshots of every goofy pose my sister and I made!

The pieces by Lauren of Lauren Beacham Photography (Jerseymaids on Etsy) are a far cry from those old Polaroid shots! The photography is modern, gorgeous and translates perfectly to whimsical necklaces, earrings, and rings!

Take a look at some of the fun stuff here, and visit her Etsy shop and Website for more!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Uniquely Scented - natural botanical perfume oil by ForStrangeWomen

Sweet Androgyny
Astral Projection
Moss and Ivy
Vision Quest

These names are just begging to be experienced! And the packaging is gorgeous, too!!

I love natural scents and oils anyway, but the combinations of botanicals in these perfume oils are really intriguing. I think I may have to try the mini vial set to see what my favorite is :D

Browse through all the amazing scents in ForStrangeWomen's Etsy shop.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unique Artwork by DeborahEBurrow

My eye immediatly zeroed in on this gorgeous painting by DeborahEBurrow! The colors are stunning and this painting is definitely all about mood!

I love how it wraps around the deep canvas! It's just inviting you to enter.

I would love to have this in my dining room where I can quietly sip my coffee while I stare into it's peaceful darkness.

Take a look at all the beautiful artwork of DeborahEBurrow in her Etsy shop.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Uniquely Moving - Inspiring Pottery by lawatson

I am absolutely inspired by the work of lawatson!

I am, as shown in the past, a huge lover of texture and things with an emotional pull. These teapots are exactly the type of thing that I'm drawn to! So much textural variation, mixed shapes and color, all done in such an artistic way as to create instant emotion, each in it's own way.

Love, love, love them!!!

Take a look at all the stunning work of lawatson in his Etsy shop or his website.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Handmade Christmas no3 - Paper Bag Purse by pinkpatrice

This is the cutest little upcycled purse! It started out as a simple brown paper bag, but is now a beautiful, festive purse! I especially love the mix of patterns and color!

--I think it'd be an awesome gift bag, too!!

Take a look at all the great goodies in pinkpatrice's Etsy shop.

I never cease to be amazed by the imagination and creativity of our indie community!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Uniquely Non-Traditional Traditional :D - Christmas Stockings by BakerGirlDesignCo

I love things that are in the line of tradition but allow you to express your personality!

These stockings by BakerGirlDesignCo are perfect for that. They're great stockings to hang from your mantle, but with a twist! Who needs everything to be green and red anyway!! LoL. And I love the little elfen accent of the twisty toe and bells! Super cool!!

Take a look at lots of great things in BakerGirlDesignCo's Etsy shop!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Unique Christmas #1 - Exploding Gift Box by pnkgeeni

I'm crazy about this gift box by Jeni of pnkgeeni. Super unique idea and perfect for any type of holiday gift! Well, maybe not a bicycle, LoL, but definitely for that special surprise gift, anything for a kid, or a unique twist to pack a gift in for the person who has everything. Or, how about extra large Christmas Crackers! Cool!!

Head over to pnkgeeni's Etsy shop for lots more super unique items!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Unique Secrets - Sterling "Secret Keeper" by HEILOstudios

This is absolutely one of my favorites! It's beautiful, cute, ingenious, clever, and super UNIQUE all rolled into one!!

I adore just looking at it. The quirky pearl poking up like an antennae, the bowl bottom that I imagine wobbling at each touch. A great little sculpture that would be the perfect gift along with your special message or "secret" inside! What about a wedding proposal? How cool would that be? or a special "Thank you" message to your Mom? The possibilities are endless...

Take a look at all the super unique items in HEILOstudios's Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Unique!

Some amazing Thanksgiving items for your enjoyment!

~~~• HaPpY ThAnkSGiVinG •~~~

Gorgeous Handblown Glass Pumpkins by AllisonGlassArt


What a Cutey - Crocheted Thanksgiving Turkey by Ichigokdba


Stunning Fine Art Print by mistflowerphoto

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Uniquely Simple, but Gorgeous Design - Pencil Holder by doubleyouEm

I love the look of this great pencil holder by doubleyouEm. I love the feeling of movement and the clean lines, the play of colors and the simplicity of design! It's organic, modern, functional and fun! Who could ask for more :D

Check out all the great functional art and art for art's sake at doubleyouEm's Etsy shop!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unique for Your 4-Legged Friends - Pet Tree Houses by PetTreeHouses

Wow! That's what first comes to mind when you see these amazing tree houses for pets. Practical and gorgeous, you can't ask for more :D

Made with real trees, these bring a little out doors in! Cool!!

Take a look at PetTreeHouses' Etsy shop to see all the tree houses available for your cat, dog, bird, and even reptiles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Uniquely Warming! Gorgeous Fire Bowls by johntunger

These firebowls made from recycled steel by johntunger take my breath away! They are stunning!!!

Roasting marshmallows and sipping wine while chatting with friends around one of these would make an incredible evening!!!

Check out johntunger's Etsy shop for more awesome designs!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Function Meets Beauty - FloralFuser by MelroseFields

Wow! These are beautiful even without the added function of being a reed diffuser! Such an awesome, unique idea!

Take a look at all the "varieties" in MelroseFields' Etsy shop.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unique Inspiration - Fantastic Hair Day Ink Print by Cidtalk

It could happen! ;D

Browse through all the gorgeous, inspiring, and thought provoking ink drawings by Cidtalk in her Etsy shop! -another of my favorites is Sunset, be sure to look at it!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unique for Kids - Quilted Kimono by JenSport

This little quilted kimono for kids is just too cute!

I love the bright, fun colors, the unique design, and the fact that it's reversible!

Makes me wish that I had a little girl --well, almost ;D

Take a closer look at this and many other unique things in JenSport's Etsy shop.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Uniquely Versatile! - Tube Skirt Combo by IslaNewYork

I adore the look and versatility of this combo by IslaNewYork! The ruffle's are on a separate band so you can wear it however you choose, or not at all! Awesome.

Perfect for the Holidays! --bonus, you can wear it year round -- it would make a super cute summer outfit :D

Check out all the great fashion choices in IslaNewYork's Etsy shop! --there's some great gift ideas, too :D

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Unique Art - Illustration by unconventionalida

You know me and my love of emotion provoking art! Well, here's a new artist that I found.

I love the colors and the textural substance of the images and especially the sort of off-center subject matter and unusual take on themes!

Enjoy! and visit unconventionalida on Etsy to see more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unique Design - Shoulder Bag by vaisto

The colors and fabrics are great! and not only is the shape of the bag unique, it has fluorescent stitching so you get noticed even at night.

Take a look at all the unique items in vaisto's Etsy shop.

the fluorescent stitching is beautiful

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yummy Unique - Chai Fudge in a Teacup! by digitalteacup

I'm not sure if I like better the idea of fudge in a teacup that you can enjoy long after the fudge is gone -- or the idea of Chai Fudge!!! Yumm-o!

Stop by digitalteacup's Etsy shop for lots of handmade goodness!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Unique Recycling! X-ray Notebooks by momerath

At the same time a little gross and a lot cool. These notebooks with X-ray covers and recycled paper pages are definitely unique.

A great gift for the slightly eccentric college student ; )

Browse through all the quirky items in momerath's Etsy shop.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Unique Design - TingleTangle Tapas Spoons by atelierOKER

Gorgeous concept and design! Simple, elegant, organic, Unique!

These pieces are great for a fabulous dinner party, a holiday gathering, or just to look at on your shelf!

Browse through everything in atelierOKER's Etsy shop!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Super Unique Leather Corset by AntisepticFashion

Stunning asymmetrical over-bust corset in leather. Truly amazing in design, detail, and workmanship.

Take a closer look at this and many other great pieces in AntisepticFashion's Etsy shop.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Uniquely Secure! Hollow Books by SecretSafeBooks

You've seen the cheesy, plastic versions... Now feast your eyes on a meticulously handmade, real book safe that is also a piece of art!

Beautiful to look at and gives you a feeling of old Victorian houses, secret passages, and dusty shelves!

Browse through all the wonderful book safes in SecretSafeBooks' Etsy shop!

Diary of Anne Frank