Thursday, December 1, 2016

Upcycling to Live

Upcycling is a hot trend that has taken places like the U.S. and Europe by storm. As the green empowerment movement has gotten stronger so has the crafty minds that gather behind the upcycling trend. While its great to know that upcycling is growing as a community its important to not forget that for some upcycling is not a trend but a means of living. Upcycling is just a word first used by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH in an article by Thornton Kay of Salvo in 1994.

"Recycling," he said, "I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling, where old products are given more value, not less."

The phrase upcycling only gave it better meaning in places such as the United States, but looking at third world countries we can see that upcycling was alive and well without its name.

Many who upcycle as a means to live do not know the word upcycle, or know that it is a trend in other countries. They spend their days collecting materials around them in order to produce goods for themselves or to sell to others. Their building garden trellises from scrap metal, and create new clothes from discarded cloth with little materials they bought on their own. The economy in these countries makes it hard for people to start their own businesses or purchase raw materials making it difficult to upcycle for profit. People in the U.S., Europe, and even Japan forget about this when our economies allow us to purchase goods for cheap.

Brazilian fashion designer Alexandre Herchcovitch attempted to raise awareness of upcycling in his country by setting up shop in a mall. At one booth he collected donations of old shirts, pants, and other clothing items. Then at another booth in the mall he took those materials and upcycled them into new clothing to be sold. He attempted to show people how simple it was to take the old and make it brand new while also showing one can make profit from it as well. By making the booths separate from each other he also gave people the idea they were getting brand new clothing not upcycled, thus showing them that upcycled was just as good as brand new.

Another group in Bangalore, India, called “The Second Life” collects old newspapers combined with traditional print making techniques to create new materials. By combing the process with a traditional art form in their country they encourage people to use the knowledge of their culture to participate in upcycling. Newspaper is also a simple material that can be found almost anywhere making it easy to upcycle.

When we upcycle its important to not lose touch with the purpose of upcycling, to extend the life of materials. Upcycling is popular now, but if it becomes too much of a trend we can begin to see a decline in quality of goods. Educating about upcycling is the best way to keep it alive and well while continuing to benefit our communities. Many people do not have the luxury to buy paint, raw materials, or accessories that may make a upcycled piece charming. Try to see what you can make without buying new materials it may be harder than you thought.

Link to The Second Life Shop:

No comments:

Post a Comment