If you have items that you’re no longer in need of or toys you’ve outgrown, the next place that may come to mind is to throw them in the dumpster. When the trash truck arrives, they’ll load the trash and take them straight to the landfill.
But do you know that you can create something new from most of your trash either by Upcycling or Recycling them?
Upcycling means the creative reuse of a material, or unwanted product before it enters the waste system, in such a way that increases its value. Whereas Recycling means converting materials that are already in the waste system into new items. This involves breaking them down completely to recreate a whole new product.
What is the difference between Upcycling and Recycling?
If you had a favourite toy that you enjoyed playing with as a kid, now that you are growing up, you want to own better toys, and that’s only normal. If you’d prefer to upcycle your old toy, it means you do not need to dump it in the landfill (dump ground) or give it to the recyclers.
Instead, you’ll only need to find a new use for it like turning your tennis toy ball into a container to store your keys or coloring pencils.
Upcycling then means that you are taking a product (could be your toy in this case) that has served its purpose and reusing it to create something of a higher value or quality. More so, the molecular properties of the product will not need to be broken down as in Recycling.
Sometimes, you may find that you cannot upcycle an item, but even then, you still don’t need to dump it in the landfill, as the better way would be to recycle them.
Recycling simply means taking items around your home that can not be reused and breaking them down completely to recreate a whole new product.
For instance, if you asked Mummy or anyone responsible for you to please order your favorite pizza, it’ll be delivered to your home in a fine cardboard box. After eating the pizza, you may not find any new use for the cardboard box and throw it in your dumpster.
But do you know that cardboard boxes can be recycled to make products like toilet paper or even newer cardboard boxes?
Absolutely! Some people will prefer to give their used cardboard boxes to the trash company. But it’s always better to find a recycling company instead because Recycling helps to protect our environment. And it reduces the need to use new raw materials to produce new products.
The Benefits of Upcycling
Sometimes, the only thing you need to do to upcycle the reading table in your room is to repaint it with a different color or reshape it to create more storage space. (Of course, you may need the help of a furniture maker for this).
But once the makeover is complete, your table would look as good as new, or even better. This is also a benefit of Upcycling.
Another classic example of Upcycling, is if you convert your old boots into a cute plant container- For decoration or simply for grooming tender veggies.
The more creative we are about reusing our items, the less filled the landfills will be. That means less pollution in our environment and our natural resources, like the trees, are more preserved.
Why Is Upcycling And Recycling Useful?
Recycling is fast becoming a habit among the young and old in countries like Australia. But a lot more still needs to be done to make more people aware of the benefits of Recycling to the economy and its environment. Likewise, children and adults are gradually becoming more creative using Upcycling. And this has lots of benefits too.
Upcycling and Recycling Saves Energy
Countries that encourage upcycling and recycling find that most of their industries are able to save on their energy bills because they can easily repurpose waste products instead of producing new ones from limited raw materials.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
“Australia generated 75.8 million tonnes of solid waste in 2018-19, which was a 10% increase over the last two years (since 2016-17). Over half of all waste was sent for recycling (38.5 million tonnes), while 27% was sent to landfill for disposal (20.5 million tonnes).”
20.5 million tonnes of resources being sent to landfill is a lot of wasted energy.
Upcycling and Recycling Reduce Waste In The Landfills
When the trash truck visits your home or school to haul your refuse, they usually take them straight to the landfill. Sadly, landfills are a temporary solution to our trash and can pollute the environment as well as waste valuable resources that can be reused or recycled. If, on the other hand, the garbage is taken to a recycling facility, lots of useful products can still be made from them and the life of the product goes on and resources are not wasted.
More Local Job Opportunities
From small upstarts revamping old products and reselling them on gumtree or facebook marketplace, to large recycling facilities, recycling and upcycling can stimulate the local economy.
The Recycling industry is a great opportunity for building local jobs. One job at a landfill can create up to 10 jobs in the recycling industry. This shows that when a country or individual gives more attention to Recycling, there’ll be more jobs that other families can benefit from. An example of other countries is in the US, the Recycling industry provides more jobs than the Auto industry.
The issue is that onshore employees cost less than labour performed overseas. This is where the Government really needs to incentivise the recycling industry, to encourage the use of existing resources instead of importing new products made from raw materials.
Upcycling and Recycling Reduces Pollution
Upcycling helps you create and recreate. For instance, some people use their old pallet woods to make new racks to store their wine, while you may have seen people who made pendants out of colorful fabrics that they didn’t have much need of.
By converting these materials into something more useful, they would not need to end up in the dumpster or even in a landfill, and it reduces pollution in the environment.
Fun Facts about Upcycling and Recycling
Did you know that only about 10% of Australians dispose of their plastic bags responsibly for recycling? This means that the remaining percentage of plastic bags are very likely to end up in the landfill? That’s why it is important to take your bags to the local Redcycle deposit drop offs at Coles and Woolworths so they can be sent to the Redcycle Facility. From there, your bags can be turned into amazing things like
1. Indoor and outdoor furniture, bollards, and signage by the recycling partner Replas
2. A component additive for the creation of roads by the recyling partner Close the Loop
3. Mini wheel stops and air conditioner mounting blocks (and other products) for the consumer market by the recycling partner Plastic Forests
Do you know glass bottles can be upcycled / reused for decorative purposes, and no matter how many times you recycle glass, it’ll still not degrade?
Did you know that the papers you use in school and at home are made from trees, and you’ll need 17 trees to make one ton of paper?
Do you know that by having a separate Recycling and Upcycling bin in your house, it’ll be easier to differentiate them from useless waste?
Now that you know the difference and benefits of Upcycling and Recycling, what new actions will you take, starting from today?
Want to learn more about how to help reduce waste? Read some of our other articles such as ‘What are the Benefits of a Chicken Coop Compost Method‘ or ‘What can I Put in a Skip Bin?’