Have you noticed an increase in the presence of upcycled materials and products? Well this is very good news for the environment. Upcycling takes existing products and materials and turns them into practical new items – instead of simply throwing them away. Now let’s look closer at the important environmental benefits of upcycling – here’s our top 5.
1) Minimising Landfill
Every day an absolutely huge amount of waste goes into landfill – general rubbish, unused products and materials, and organic waste. This landfill waste takes hundreds and thousands of years to decompose, making the land it occupies both useless and hazardous. Upcycling removes the need for products to end their life-cycle in landfill. Instead, discarded cotton Tshirts can be woven into beautiful multi-coloured mats for the home. The sky’s the limit with upcycling, and it allows us to be more creative with our items and minds. Friends and family will love receiving a creative upcycled gift rather than a mass-produced item purchased from a store.
2) Less Greenhouse Emissions
By minimising the amount of landfill, we are in turn reducing the amount of CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas being released into the atmosphere. These emissions contribute to climate change and global warming, which pose the most serious threat to our planet and lives. Lowering emissions is the most proactive way to protect the environment.
3) Cleaner Waterways
As well as releasing emissions into the air, landfill pollutes our groundwater through ‘leachates’ – the liquid that drains out from landfill. Reducing the amount of space occupied by landfill reduces the risk of this leaching from occurring, resulting in unpolluted groundwater and land. Also make yourself think about the amount of rubbish that goes into our waterways from careless consumers. Upcycled placemats, forming vibrant and interesting centrepieces for your table, can be made from hundreds of plastic bags that would otherwise be sitting in landfill, or worse – clogging up our waterways and killing wildlife.
4) No Need to Produce New Materials
Upcycling promotes the use of old items, rather than actively buying new things. This means fewer goods need to be manufactured, reducing energy and water consumption and the use of raw materials, and conserving our global resources. While recycling is definitely great, and contributes greatly to conservation, it requires the breaking down of products such as glass bottles and plastic containers into raw materials before these materials can be re-used. With upcycling there’s no need to use valuable energy or water to break products down. The product, or parts of it, are used as they are to make a new item. Often this new item can be even more useful, beautiful or creative than the original product!
5) An Opportunity for People to Break Free from Poverty
This shift back to unique, one-off products made from existing materials has had a positive impact on people in developing countries. There are many case study stories of villagers who are now able to make a living by making and selling upcycled products such as homewares, gifts, jewellery and children’s toys. With raw materials being very expensive in developing areas, people often have no choice but to re-fashion items into new ones – for example, turning rubber tyres into perfectly practical buckets. By supporting village industry, as long as it is certified to be fair trade, your money will be directly helping the person who made your unique item and helping to lift them from poverty. That’s a priceless transaction. A great example of upcycling available to businesses is the repurposing of shipping containers for the retail, commercial and food and beverage industry. With most shipping containers destined to rust away in landfill, you can give them an entirely innovative new life as a customised space to house your wares or services. If you’re interested in exploring this further, get in touch with The Box Brand – Australia-wide providers of high quality, sustainable and affordable repurposed shipping containers.