Upcycled Products: Making a Success Story out of Sustainability

. 6 min read
Upcycled Products: Making a Success Story out of Sustainability

Why Is Upcycling Better Than Recycling?

  1. Years of mindless consumption has taken us to an environmentally disastrous state.
  2. The pandemic has increased the concern about climate change, leading people to look for more eco-friendly alternatives.
  3. Conscious consumption is on the rise, shining a light on the possibilities of upcycling.
  4. The aim of upcycling is to cut down on the environmental effects associated with harvesting the virgin materials used to produce things.
  5. It helps to bring down the waste that contribute to landfills.
  6. Upcycling is a wonderful way to rejuvenate your home and spirit.
  7. Instead of sending discarded items to the neighbouring 'raddiwala', those socially responsible among us are looking at ways on how to re-use them.
  8. Those who love to hoard and re-purpose old things have found a new liking towards old objects.
  9. They are seeking to actively reduce waste, and are seeking brands that promote eco-friendly products.
  10. Unlike recycling, upcycling uses intact parts and pieces of things to make new items that retain vestiges of the original product.
  11. In many cases, they end up being more attractive than the older ones.
  12. Many brands are modifying, reusing, or upcycling old products to make new products.
  13. They are 'social enterprise' businesses with a conscience, championing the cause of re-purposing and re-using.

What Are Upcycled Products?

  • Turning broken pieces of crockery into works of art, or remodeling an old trunk, upcycling is a wonderful way to align yourself with the chain of events.
  • A sure shot way to engage kids creatively.
  • Mothers are utilising the time spent indoors because of the pandemic, to train their kids how to use newspapers, thermocol plates, etc. for school projects.
  • Many of them are making crafts items from old plates or spoons, or by painting old bottles.
  • Indian artists are creating upcycled pop art with a focus on sustainability. Cutlery, furniture, and pottery, among other things, are getting a makeover.
  • A few among them have upcycled discarded glass items to tableware like egg trays, platters, and sleek tumblers.
  • While recycling glass bottles can be cost and resource-intensive, entrepreneurs are now looking at upcycling glassware as a viable alternative.
  • The artists procure bottles from local as well as wholesale scrap dealers.
  • They start with segregation according to quality, followed by a strict cleaning-up.
  • The bottles are cut, edges are buffed, to smoothen them, and finally polished.
  • The new entrepreneurs supply them to cafes across the country, apart from selling them on social media.

What Are Upcycled Fibers?

  • Upcycling a fabric means giving new life to waste fabric or an old garment, which is brought back to a state of fiber, spun, and woven into new fabric.
  • Many materials can be regenerated into new fabrics such as cashmere, cotton, jeans, or wool.
  • Over time, big brands want to reduce and replace their reliance on non-biodegradable synthetics such as nylon or polyester and use more upcycled and sustainable materials.
  • Natural fibers such as cotton waste can be upcycled into performance materials by separating waste fibers by colour.
  • It is then given added value with original colours and fiber properties.
  • The technology involved uses closed-loop processes and green chemistry principles to revitalise recycled fibers and engineer performance cotton textiles.
  • The above processes are achieved through precise manipulation of molecular bonding.
  • Wearing regenerated clothes offers numerous environmental and social benefits.

What Is Upcycled Food?

  1. A significant 8% of greenhouse gas emissions come from food loss and waste.
  2. Globally, billions of dollars of food are lost or wasted.
  3. So, wastage of food is an important factor for climate change, calling for sustainability experts to find a solution to this problem.
  4. According to the Upcycled Food Association (UFA), upcycled food is that food that has a positive effect on the environment.
  5. The production and procurement of such food items actively deploy a verifiable supply chain and use ingredients that do not fall under the conventional category of ingredients consumed by the human.
  6. It contributes to the creation of a more resilient and sustainable food system and offers the opportunity to feed growing populations without the need for more limited natural resources.
  7. A high-fiber and protein-rich fiber made of soya pulp or defatted upcycled sunflower seeds, or, upcycling discarded coffee cherry pulp into a bakery ingredient-all of these are recent innovations in upcycled food.
  8. The UFA is introducing a certification standard to develop markets for upcycled food.
  9. Starting a business in upcycled food is also financially viable because consumers perceive them to be 'value-added' products.

What Are Upcycled Clothes?

  • The fashion industry is among the largest polluters.
  • While fast fashion and sweatshops have long dominated the space, people have been leaning towards sustainable alternatives.
  • Whether it is an heirloom sari or a vintage pair of jeans, most things have got a makeover, since the owners have got more time in their hands, ever since the pandemic began.
  • There is a change in consumer behaviour as well. Even they are opting for old clothes to the new ones.
  • Brides looking at socially distanced weddings are planning to buy pre-owned or second-hand wedding dresses.
  • Second-hand, upcycled, and vintage clothes took off in a big way in 2020.
  • Creating new clothes out of old is the biggest trend in fashion right now.
  • The restrictions imposed by the pandemic has led to designers using what they have in the studio, instead of buying new fabrics.
  • Some brands are running a zero-waste operation, by upcycling waste fabrics and saris into beautiful and functional garments.
  • Others are exploring how to re-use 1970's bags, others are creating patch-worked outerwear from existing garments.
  • Some are exploring how to make jackets out of used denim.
  • Inspired by the indigenous ideology of re-purposing, reclaiming, and re-using, many of their collections utilise post-production leftovers.

What Are Upcycled Purses?

  1. Did you know that you can make a purse out of an old recycled book?
  2. What you are going to need is a book with an attractive cover, some coordinating fabric, a utility knife, a sewing machine, needles and thread, pre-made handles, some craft glue, and coloured markers that match your book.
  3. To begin, cut off the pages from the book with the utility knife.
  4. Then use the marker to fill in any spots where the marker may have worn off.
  5. Cut the fabric into triangular shapes and sew them.
  6. Attach them with the glue to the base of the book, and also attach the handles.
  7. And, voila! You have a cute purse ready in no time at all!
  8. Purses are also made from recycled plastics and appeals to the environmentally-conscious buyer.

What Is Upcycled Paper?

  • Traditional paper made from trees contains more than 65 chemicals and wastes a lot of water.
  • Some companies are making sustainable tree-free paper from secondary agro and textile waste, thus saving trees and water.
  • Handmade paper can be made from the coffee husk and tea leaves.
  • The husk adds a beautiful texture when blended with cotton, and acquires a beautiful brown colour.
  • The husk is converted to a pulp and a gorgeous sheet of coffee husk paper is created.
  • This paper can be used to make interesting bags, book covers, invites, journals, or notebooks.
  • Handmade paper can also be made from residual plant fiber.
  • The plants whose fibers are commonly used are banana, coconut, flax, lemongrass, mulberry, etc.
  • For example, after the extraction of lemongrass oil, the fiber is considered as waste.
  • But it can be used to make strong and smooth paper.

Why Are Upcycled Products More Expensive?

  1. We as a society tend to view waste as useless or worthless, when in fact it can be a valuable resource.
  2. It may have a past and a story to tell.
  3. If we compare the prices of upcycled products with other mass-produced goods, we would find their prices to be more expensive.
  4. They are often seen in upscale gift shops-things like bowls made from colourful magazines or vases made out of pricey beer bottles.
  5. Sellers of upcycled products often hear queries from customers who wonder why those products are so expensive.
  6. But if we think holistically about the work that goes into them or the benefits like reducing plastic waste, then the high price point is justified.
  7. Products that have been upcycled require imagination and skill to transform them into something new.
  8. Upcycling is a challenging process because no two things are the same.
  9. For example, most reclaimed materials that come into the hands of upcycled clothes sellers must first be washed, spruced up, and sewn before they can be made into new materials.
  10. Since most of the old clothes are dirty and torn, the process takes a great deal of time and money.
  • Upcycled products may be a little expensive, but they are a good value for money.
  • And, eco-friendliness being the new mantra, they are a sure shot business proposition.

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