Upcycling Vs Recycling

Upcycling Vs Recycling

You dutifully sort out your recycling each week and put it in your wheelie bin. Is recycling really the best thing you can do for the environment, and the best way to save space in your wheelie bins? Should you consider upcycling your items to help the environment even more?


Recycling is the process of turning waste into a reusable material or product. So the waste you put in your recycling bin, such as paper, glass and plastic. It is then broken down to make another product. The problem with recycling, however, is that a lot of materials don’t retain their quality after they have been recycled. Plastic and paper are good examples of this.

Using recycled materials means that new items don’t have to be produced. Saving energy, raw materials, and natural resources. However, the recycling process itself uses energy, and it does decrease the quality of the original material.


Upcycling is a form of recycling, but it turns waste into a material or product that is of higher quality than the original item. All that’s required is your creativity and a bit of imagination. An example of upcycling would be using the material from an old jumper to make a cushion cover or cuddly toy.


Is recycling or upcycling better?

Both recycling and upcycling reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. They both also reduce the need for new items to be produced which equals less carbon emissions and less pollution. But the recycling process requires energy too, and the materials lose some of their quality after they are recycled.

Upcycling can produce items of better quality, it allows you (and maybe your children) to use your imagination and creativity, and it saves you money. If you reuse an item to make something new, that’s one less thing you have to buy. You might even make some money. Many people are upcycling items such as old furniture and selling them online nowadays.

But there are benefits to recycling and upcycling, and bear in mind that not every item can be recycled or upcycled.

How can you start?

The key to upcycling is to let your imagination run wild! Even something like a raggy old jumper can made into something beautiful with a little creativity.

Look around your home for items you no longer use or need, no doubt you have cupboards full of them, and that’s even before you look in the garage!

Think before you throw things away

Many things can be reused; egg cartons, plastic bottles, even old floorboards. Look around on the internet and in magazines, there’s plenty of inspiration! Materials don’t need to be in perfect quality, you can always sand, strip, or paint things to give them a new lease of life.

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