Is Upcycling Important? Being Conscious of Your Footprint


Most of us want to be involved with something important. And upcycling can be a lot of fun, but what kind of impact does upcycling have in the world around you? And why is upcycling important in the first place?

The importance (or benefits) of upcycling can really be broken down into three major categories. Environmental, personal, and social benefits. By creatively reducing your overall waste footprint, you help yourself and those around you live cleaner, more engaging lives.

So what are these environmental, personal, and social benefits of upcycling? Maybe knowing a few can help you in your upcycle journey.

Environmental Benefits of Upcycling

Upcycling has some MAJOR environmental benefits, especially when compared to recycling or just disposing of items you have. And knowing a little bit about what happens when you don’t upcycle can add some clarity to how awesome upcycling really is.

I think most of us understand that littering is pretty bad for the environment. If you’re looking at things you can do with your trash, littering should be on the bottom of your list (like, right below eating it).

If that’s the lowest run on the “what to do with my trash” ladder, throwing it away is a couple steps above. Trash usually goes to a landfill, which isn’t great, but at least it’s contained.

Recycling is good, but most things that can be recycled can only be recycled a few times before they too become trash.

Upcycling is at the top of the ladder because your trash doesn’t go anywhere. It stays with you. Upcycling essentially keeps trash from becoming trash in the first place. This has a few different benefits for the environment.

Reduces What Goes In Landfills

This one’s kind of obvious, and it’s a benefit upcycling shares with recycling. But it goes even beyond recycling because the items never even leave your house.

Instead of spending resources to transport, break down the item to a raw material, make something new, and transport it again (that’s what recycling does), with upcycling, the item just changes from one useful thing to another.

So in many ways, upcycling can be more beneficial than recycling for the environment because it usually leaves a smaller footprint.

Reduces Your Consumption

Not only does less end up in landfills, but less is consumed in general. By transforming one thing into another, you eliminate the need to buy something else and consume it.

This means that you’re reducing your waste footprint on both ends. You’re reducing what you throwout, but you’re also reducing what you take in, making it a double-edged sword (in a good way) for environmentally conscious people.

And this is very closely related to the next environmental benefit.

Reduces the Need for Production

It’s true that the more you buy, the more you throw out. But even more so, the more you buy the more resources are used in production.

By making a backpack out of old jeans instead of buying a new one, resources aren’t used to create a new one for you, reducing production a little bit.

It’s hard to say how much of an impact each person has on this, but even helping cut resource consumption a little bit can help. So maybe Old Navy will still make the same amount of jeans and backpacks, but they didn’t make them for you.

Personal Benefits of Upcycling

There are also a few personal benefits that come with upcycling.

Satisfaction Knowing You’re Doing Good

Most of us like to feel like we’re doing some good in the world, and upcycling gives you that satisfaction. Not only are you making a positive impact on the environment, but you’re also making something yourself, which brings its own level of satisfaction.

Getting behind a purpose brings a lot of meaning to our actions, which is one of the reasons upcycling is so great. It feels good to do good, you know?

It Saves You Money

For real though, think about it, everything you upcycle is something you didn’t need to buy. By upcycling, you can save on how much you spend on items you use every day.

So not only is it for the environmentally aware, but it’s also for the thrifty. If you enjoy saving money and making things work on a tight budget, upcycling can be a super useful way of doing that.

There are some material costs as you get enough tools to do upcycling consistently. But once you have that set of tools, upcycling can become much more cost effective and even more time efficient to upcycle things instead of buy them.

Helps You Be More Creative

Being creative is a super important (and fun) skill to have. There’s a certain level of satisfaction knowing that you’re designing and making something out of what was considered trash.

There’s a little bit of a creative high that hits when you get an upcycling idea. And the more you upcycle, the more those ideas come, which becomes super fun.

Some people get so good at it that they start companies and eventually make their livelihood through upcycling. That’s an awesome amount of creativity!

And it’s just fun to be creative. It kind of takes us back to being kids–when you just had tons of ideas about everything you saw. Sky was the limit. And now it is again with upcycling.

Social Benefits of Upcycling

Social benefits are often overlooked when it comes to upcycling, but there are a couple I want to talk about.

You Become More Involved With Other People

There’s a pretty big community surrounding upcycling (just search it on Pinterest). There’s always somebody making something useful out of would-be trash. And that community continues to grow.

There are also Facebook groups, YouTube videos, and a bunch of other ways to connect with people that upcycle–especially if you’re obsessed with it.

Maybe you even end up talking to your neighbor who upcycles that you normally wouldn’t otherwise.

If you end up getting really serious and starting a business, you might even come in contact people that want to donate upcycling materials to you. There are just a lot of ways to get connected with people in the space.

You Support Small Businesses

As mentioned previously, there are businesses that exist from doing upcycling. They take old products that people would throw (or even have thrown) away and turn them into products people want to buy.

Maybe you don’t want to upcycle yourself, but you want to be involved. Buying one of these products or donating materials can be really awesome ways to help out without getting your hands super dirty.

You Get Some Pretty Cool Conversation Pieces

Even though upcycling is about creating useful things out of trash, the pieces seldom look like you just bought them from the store. Some people can make them look that way, but most of the time, items have a really unique look to them.

If you wear upcycled clothes or accessories, or if you upcycling projects are used often in your house, people can recognize that and start conversations.

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