Upcycling is a method of recycling whereby old and unwanted products are given a new purpose or function. Before you give upcycling a try, it’s important to weigh up its pros and cons which may save you a lot of time and effort.

An advantage of upcycling is that it reduces landfill waste. It can save you money, by adapting what you already have into unique masterpieces. It can provide a sense of purpose and reward while encouraging creativity. But upcycling can also have disadvantages such as reducing spending within the economy.

Pros and Cons of Upcycling

An advantage of upcycling is that you can take something that you currently don’t like or have any use for and transform it into something useful for you. The phrase was first coined by Reiner Pilz in 1944 who believed that upcycling was to give timeworn products ‘more value’ than they had originally.

The other huge benefit of upcycling is that it allows us to reduce the amount of waste we are putting into landfills. So, it is great for the environment. We all know that landfills are filled with a lot of stuff that the original user did not have a need for any more. But it could have been reused, or upcycled by someone else! I guess that’s how the saying ‘Someone’s trash is another’s treasure’ come about.

You can also save money by upcycling old products rather than buying them new. I find there’s nothing more satisfying than giving a piece a new life, especially when it is one that all my friends WOW at.

But there can be disadvantages. Once you have an eye for a good upcycling project, you can find yourself accumulating a lot of stuff. Not only that, it can be time consuming, and when you have a busy life it can get overwhelming.

In this article we go through in detail, the most important advantages and disadvantages of upcycling.

How Does Upcycling Benefit The Environment?

Upcycling is advantageous because it reduces waste and stops old items from filling up landfill sites. Mass production and consumption mean that our trash piles are ever-growing. The more landfills we create, the more we are polluting the Earth, water, and air. Producing raw and new materials also contributed to air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Upcycling reduces these productions which is why it is important for the environment. By reusing old items, we can help to reduce man-made environmental issues.

Upcycling also allows us to save natural resources that manufacturing new items requires. For example, it can take over 2,700 litres of water to make just one t-shirt! Raw materials like trees otherwise being cut down for new furniture can be saved too. So, revamping our old items can help to reduce the impact we have on major global issues like climate change.

Is Upcycling Financially Advantageous?

Upcycling can often save you a lot of money rather than buying new. This is especially true if your upcycling project is a piece of furniture that can cost thousands of dollars when bought first-hand. Obviously, this all depends on what you alter but many upcycling jobs simply require a lick of paint to look good as new!

But, upcycling can actually cause you to spend more money. This sum is often greater than the worth of the original product. But, if you love the end result, then who is to say it’s not worth splashing the cash?

How Does Upcycling Positively Effect Creativity?

Another advantage of upcycling projects is that they can really allow your creative juices to flow. DIY projects let you craft unique and one-of-a-kind products that no one else has which can be very satisfying and rewarding. Is upcycling an art? Yes!

Why upcycling is important

Although the majority of people don’t feel very creative in their everyday lives, upcycling projects can be entertaining, and everyone is capable of doing them. Upcycling may unlock creativity you didn’t even know you had. The final results don’t have to be perfect. At the end of the day, these projects are just a bit of fun.

Such projects will give you a sense of pride in your upcycled item and whatever it is, it will make for a great conversation piece. It’s your creation, so anything goes, and enjoy yourself while doing it!

Unfortunately, upcycling projects don’t always work out the way that you intended them to. This may be a waste of time and effort if you also dislike the end product and may be a source of frustration. You may also feel that you have only made your product worse and so you’ve squandered your money too. 

Yet, just because you don’t like the end product doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You could actually sell or give away the upcycle to someone else and make them happy instead. This will save the product from going to waste and may make you a bit of cash in the process.

How Does Upcycling Adversely Take Up Your Space?

One disadvantage of upcycling is that it can make people keep more junk than they truly need. Whether your wardrobe is overflowing, or your garden is piled up with scraps, old items and materials can take up a lot of space that many people just don’t have. They can also make your home seem cluttered and unorganised if you go overboard. So, be wise about which products you want to upcycle.

Similarly, you may need to buy more new materials to complete your upcycling project. This kind of defeats the whole point of upcycling. Glue, paints, nails, tools, and much more may all be needed.

However, to reduce clutter, there are companies consciously aware of the impact of rubbish on the environment, who are willing to help you keep on track when discarding items. Capital Hire’s skip bins, as an example, offers a green waste skip bin across Canberra.

Can Upcycling Negatively Impact Your Free Time?

If you are time poor, upcycling might not be right for you. It should be a source of enjoyment.  If it is going to create stress, then you might be better off buying something new. Or alternatively, if you are more environmentally aware – go to a recycle centre like an Op Shop, Tip Shop, or check out Gumtree, Facebook marketplace or Buy Nothing Groups!

How Does Upcycling Benefit The Economy?

Upcycling can have both positive and negative impacts on the economy. If everyone chose to upcycle everything, then businesses selling new items would very quickly go bust. This would cause issues with job availability and may negatively impact the economy in the long run.  You might be wondering, with these factors, why is upcycling important for the economy?

Upcycling businesses do exist too! These allow entrepreneurs to build their businesses around re-vamping old products like specialised boutiques and furnishing shops. Upcycling allows many independent businesses to thrive without which the world would be a pretty boring place!

There are also economic advantages of upcycling for the government too. Governments can save money through the encouragement of upcycling and use the cash to better invest in other sectors like education and health. This will save them costs on running landfill sites and probably on dealing with fly-tipping too.

Overall, upcycling has many advantages and disadvantages. While your projects may not always work out the best in the end, this should not discourage you from trying to DIY your items. You may really fall in love with the process of upcycling. If you do then great, and if you don’t that’s perfectly fine too. Just move on.

Upcycling gives your old items a new purpose and look which may help to keep things interesting and spice up your home, garden, or style. While there are some obvious disadvantages like giving you the opportunity to acquire more junk, you have to weigh up the options and decide for yourself whether upcycling is worth the effort. We definitely think it’s worth a try!

Not quite sure whether you should upcycle or recycle? Check out our helpful guide to upcycling and recycling! Do you know the most common recycling mistakes? Capital Hire is here to help with your waste needs, including informing you of what you can put in skip bins!