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Upcycling vs Recycling: Which One is Better?

The terms’ recycling’ and ‘upcycling’ are usually used interchangeably. However, the two processes are unconnected and fundamentally distinct. In this article, we will look at both and
then emphasize the distinctions between them and explain why each is significant from an environmental standpoint.

What is upcycling?

Upcycling is a kind of traditional recycling in which materials are reused after they have served their purpose. It entails brainstorming ideas for reusing items such as clothing to
ensure we get the most out of the resources. Upcycling is taking objects that one would ordinarily toss in the recycling bin or have a unique recycling solution and repurposing them
to give them a second life. The objective is for an item to exist and be in circulation for a long time. This concept represents a significant shift in consumer behavior, particularly as people
move away from unsustainable systems such as fast fashion. In fast fashion, garments are traditionally worn for a short period and result in numbers such as one-third of all clothing
ending up in landfills yearly.

What is recycling?

Since recycling is a term that is used more frequently than upcycling, it is possible that we all understand what it implies. The process of reusing something for a new use is referred to as
recycling. Recycling is the process of classifying and processing goods to reuse resources in their existing state to make a new product. Recycling materials are often readjusted,
transformed, melted, and broken down. This notion values the resources that go into our products and adheres to a circular paradigm of use recycle reuse.

What are some examples of recycling?

Regarding recycling in the fashion business, it is primarily done by brands rather than consumers.
● Recycling plastic into clothing or accessories such as sunglasses, shoes and even clothes.
● Textiles that have been repurposed into new clothing.
● Organic waste, such as pineapple or apple peels, is turned into leather.
● Wood may be converted into rayon, which is used to make clothing.
● Plastic is employed in industry as a recyclable resource. However, certain clothing companies make outfits from pineapple and apple peels, primarily used to create vegan leather.

What are some examples of upcycling?

Let us look at some upcycling examples from the fashion sector.
● Natural dyes such as avocado, onion peels, or spinach can be used to color one’s garments. This approach is beneficial if one has a stubborn stain.
● One can make shorts out of a pair of jeans.
● To sew new garments, using fabrics such as a tablecloth, old clothes, or a men’s shirt.
● Doing tye-dye on old garments.
● Repurposing an old dress into a top or a new handbag.

What is the difference between upcycling and recycling?

The distinction between upcycling and recycling is found in the manufacturing process. When something is recycled, it undergoes an industrial process in which it is converted into another material and utilised to create a new item. Upcycling, on the other hand, is a non-industrial process. One can upcycle anything within one’s own house. An object or substance is reused in a creative and novel way in upcycling. So the distinction between upcycling and recycling does not lie in repurposing a material or object for a new purpose. The distinction between upcycling and recycling is the entire process of transforming a substance into a new thing.

Which is more eco-friendly- upcycling or recycling?

Contrary to popular belief, recycling is not always the greatest solution for dealing with garbage. Recycling is included below upcycling or reusing in the waste hierarchy, demonstrating that recycling is preferable only when reusing an object is no longer viable. It is due to the massive amount of energy required to recycle an item. Recycling entails breaking down items into raw materials, which are then manufactured into new products. It is estimated that every tonne of textiles upcycled rather than recycled saves 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

How does it help the environment?

Regarding importance, there is no distinction between upcycling and recycling. Both are critical regarding waste, resources, pollution, and the environment. Upcycling is essential since it allows everyone to repurpose outdated products. It decreases waste since old materials are repurposed. More specifically, upcycling is significant because it reduces the number of materials that wind up in landfills, reduces waste, and results in the use of fewer natural resources. Upcycling also allows one to be creative, do something nice for the environment, and, last but not least, save money. Recycling saves energy and resources, garbage in landfills is good for the environment, and so on. Recycling is crucial since it provides several advantages. Not only may it reduce the number of resources consumed globally since we reuse or recycle outdated ones. It can also assist in keeping nature from being overburdened with trash. Regardless of the distinctions between upcycling and recycling, we need an understanding of our consumer choices and accountability for what we do with our items after we are done with them. Though reusing and repurposing are essential components of this story, reducing should be prioritized in order to minimize the amount of garbage that needs to be upcycled and recycled in the first place.

Photo by Utopia By Cho on Unsplash