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  • Kelly Ratcliffe

Upcycle VS Recycle: What's the diff?

Updated: Sep 18, 2019



Recycling means to turn waste into a reusable product or to refurbish a product for reuse. Upcycling, a particular form of recycling, involves turning waste material or an unwanted product into a better-quality product. When considering what to do with unwanted products or materials, consider whether upcycling the items or recycling them in another fashion would be most beneficial to your budget and the environment.


Upcycling, on the other hand, is a very specific form of recycling that turns waste into a material or product that is of a higher quality. You do not need to send items to a recycling center to be broken down if you want to upcycle. Instead, you just have to use your creativity to figure out new ways to repurpose or fashion items.



Examples of Recycling vs. Upcycling

To understand the difference between traditional recycling and upcycling, it may help to look at an example of each. Let’s say you receive a letter in the mail, open it, and realize there’s no need to keep it. Instead of throwing it away, toss this piece of paper into a recycling bin, and it will be sent to your local recycling center and reused to create recycled paper. This is an example of recycling.

If you have a teapot with a broken lid and you choose to use it as a place to store all of your pens and pencils instead of throwing it away, this is also an example of upcycling. Here, are also some slides of amazing ideas from Good House Keeping https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/craft-ideas/how-to/g139/genius-upcycling-ideas/ Check it out!


This basic coffee tin, we all have similar right?


Featured in Good House Keeping, this simple tin turned into a gorgeous unique planter! No waste and totally customisable!

Benefits of Recycling and Upcycling

Both recycling and upcycling reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills around the world. Also, both activities reduce the need for the production of new materials, which means there will be less pollution and carbon emissions produced by manufacturers.

Upcycling has several other unique benefits. If you have children, upcycling can be a fun way to introduce them to a greener lifestyle. It may not seem fun to separate waste into different recycling bins, but children will love using their imaginations to come up with ways to reuse items around the house. Once they become interested in upcycling, it will be easier to get them involved with other green practices.


Should You Upcycle or Recycle?

Because there are so many benefits to both recycling and upcycling, there’s no need to choose one over the other. But, keep in mind that not every item can be upcycled. Depending on your creativity, you may find it difficult to think of new ways to repurpose certain items you no longer need. When this happens, turn to recycling instead of throwing the item away in the garbage.


Follow us for furniture upcycling! @upcyclehongkong

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