When I first typed the title to this article, it got me thinking about the difference between recycling and upcycling. Do you know the difference? I thought I did, but after doing quite a bit of research this morning, now I’m not so sure. It turns out, there is a debate about that online. Some people claim others are using the word incorrectly, and other people claim those people are wrong. In the end, I’m not sure if my understanding of it is accurate or not.
From what I can find, recycling something simply means prolonging the inevitability that a material will have to be discarded by turning it into something else that is useful. Upcycling is creating a more permanent solution which takes the original material and makes something even better and more environmentally friendly out of it, and as a result, creating a cycle that doesn’t necessarily have to end in discarding something.
For example, taking standard aluminum cans and turning them into a new kind of environmentally safe can which can be reused over and over again would be an example of upcycling. On the other hand, taking a tire and making a wallet from it would be an example of recycling because that is not a permanent solution to keep that tire/wallet from ever becoming garbage, but it does prolong that tire’s life for a while. If you understand the difference between recycling and upcycling, maybe you can let us know if this is an accurate description.
I’ve written about a lot of ways to turn old things into new things (and have fun doing it), but some definitely stick out as more creative than others. I thought this one was really brilliant. How many times have you brought home a stack of brochures from your vacation and tossed them in a drawer somewhere, never to be looked at again? I’ve done it so many times I can’t even count. The thing is, since most of those brochures are printed on colored, glossy paper, they are tough to recycle. You can always contact a place that does online brochure printing to see if they have a standard recycling process in place that you can piggyback on.
Jen, the blogger at Upcycled Education, figured out a way to upcycle those brochures into impressive little magnets. As you see, she chose the most colorful parts of the brochure to make the magnets themselves, and I think they turned out beautifully! After looking at the process to make these, I would put the skill level for this at “intermediate,” but it’s still definitely worth giving it a shot. You can get the full tutorial for this at DIY Ski Magnets. If you make some of these, I hope you come back and leave us a picture so we can see what they look like!