Ever heard about upcycling? It is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. For example, turning plastic bottles into stools for sitting or used car tires to tables.

Upcycling gives an item a better purpose. Instead of throwing that plastic bottle after using up the content into a refuse bin that may end up clogging the gutters, it can be turned into a chair giving the plastic bottle a new purpose. Upcycling ensures that items destined for the trash are put into another use.

Upcycling of plastic bottles into a stool

You may ask how recycling differs from upcycling.

Recycling takes consumer materials — mostly plastic, paper, metal and glass — and breaks them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality.

While upcycling is the refashioning of an item into a better quality for use – you do not get to break down the materials.

Upcycling is not a new concept. Some of the best examples of modern-day upcycling come from the 1930s-40s when families had very little economic or material resources. In this age of thrift, they reused almost everything, repurposing items over and over until they were no longer useful: Feed sacks became dresses or old doors became the new dining room table.

 What’s old is new again, but with a twist.

Thrift is still a trend today and a big reason some people upcycle. Others enjoy the artistic aesthetic, with lots of upcycled items rivaling those found in high-end department stores. But one of the biggest reasons for the rebirth of upcycling is the positive impact on the environment. Items destined for the dump are rescued and remade into something useful.

In Nigeria, upcycling makes it possible for individuals who would not have been able to afford an item to create one from waste. You can use raw materials to make baskets, jewelry, chair, table, rugs, phone cases and other useful and beautiful things.

Upcycling Is Green.

Plain and simple, upcycling makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage stream. Upcycling instead of recycling is good too; recycling requires energy or water to break down materials. Upcycling only requires your own creativity and elbow grease.

What Can You Upcycle?

Just about anything: tires, wine bottles, cans, newspapers, milk cartons, tires, suitcases, jeans, you name it. If you no longer have a use for it, upcycle it!