Today I wanted to discuss upcycling. What does it mean, and why do I use some upcycled fabrics? Why upcycle instead of recycling or purchasing new garments? Let’s talk trash!
Recycling vs. Upcycling
Recycling takes consumer materials mostly plastic, paper, metal, and glass. People break them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product.
When you upcycle an item, you aren’t breaking down the materials. You repurpose it – like how I create my paper towels. It’s still made of the same materials as when you started. Also, the upcycled item is typically better or the same quality as the original.
Upcycling is not new
Upcycling is not a new concept. Some of the best examples of modern-day upcycling came from the 1930s-40s, when families had very little economic or material resources. In this age of thrift, they reused almost everything, repurposing items repeatedly 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. But one of the biggest reasons for the rebirth of upcycling is the positive impact on the environment. Some people rescue Items destined for the landfill and remake them into something useful. You can’t get much greener than that!
Landfill- A modern-day dilemma
Every year, we are sending more and more items to landfill. Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new textiles each year and then discard about 23 kilograms* into landfill – and two-thirds of those discards are artificial synthetic/plastic fibers that may never break down. This is an alarming figure.
“There’s been a transformational shift in how we source, use and discard our clothing which has major social and environmental implications. Fast fashion produced from global supply chains is driving purchasing of excessive new clothing, often discarded after a few wears,” Says sustainability consultant Jane Milburn.
Ms. Milburn said the average global annual consumption of textiles has doubled from 7 to 13 kg per person in two decades. Furthermore, Australia is twice that at 27kgs per person .The newest clothing is now made from synthetic fibers derived from petroleum.
“Ecological research by Dr. Mark Browne has shown synthetic clothes like polyester. It is shedding microplastic particles into the wastewater stream with every wash and then enter the food chain.
“In the same way we are aware of what we eat and want to know more about cooking and growing food. We are becoming more conscious about what we wear. We need to know at least the basics about how designer make clothes and how to make simple repairs to extend their lifespan.”
This is where upcycling is the answer to a greener future. Instead of recycling which takes a lot of energy, or looking for new fabrics, we need to reuse what is already made. Stay tuned for more upcycled goodies which i will add to my store. We have a goal to move The Plastic Free Movement to the majority of upcycled and sustainable materials.
We can make a difference for our future generations!
*Australian Bureau of Statistics reports residents are sending 501,000 tons of leather and textiles to landfill in 2009-2010. There are 22 million Australian population in 2010, which averages out to 22.7kg per person. This figure may include carpets but that is not specified by the ABS.