Upcycling VS. Recycling - A way to protect the environment during COVID-19 lockdown

This is a blog post by Dr Abeer Hassan from University of the West of Scotland on the concept of upcycling and examples of how it can be done in your own home.

Everyone has heard of recycling, but what about upcycling? Recycling is the process of turning waste into a reusable material or product. It involves taking common household items, such as paper, glass, and plastic, breaking down the materials, and using them to form another product that is often of lesser quality. Upcycling, on the other hand, is a very specific form of recycling that turns waste into a material or product that is of a higher quality. It might create an artistic value for the material and a second life. You do not need to send them to a recycling centre to be broken down if you want to upcycle. Instead, you just can use your creativity to figure out new ways to repurpose or redesign items.

Both recycling and upcycling reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills around the world. Also, both don’t require the production of new materials, which means there will be less pollution, lower carbon emissions produced by manufacturers. Upcycling has several unique benefits such as: creating unique products, simple tools that can be used and can extend the life of materials. During the lockdown, use your imagination and create something new. Below is what I have done as a sort of upcycling.

I visited my mum’s house before the lockdown and found around 4 meters of fabric leftover that she did not want them anymore. With the help of my mum, we made four cushion covers and I took the rest of the 4 meters. When this lockdown happened, I thought of using the leftovers as a way of upcycling particularly redesigning my seating area. I had two old pillows that I do not need anymore. I did cut them into two pieces and made the cushions. I have also a small dining table with 4 chairs. The seat covers were needing to be replaced and I was thinking to throw the whole table with its 4 chairs away and then I thought of covering the seats of the 4 chairs from the leftover fabric. I also had two old silk scarfs which I folded and used as table runners.

Think about how you can take part in protecting our environment, for the current and next generations. Look at any item in your house that you do not want it anymore and instead of throwing it away, think of the innovative idea as Upcycling can help to prevent the amount of waste that we discard. By upcycling, we remove the need to produce new or raw materials. By reducing this need, we can cut down on air pollution, water pollution, landfill use, and even greenhouse gas emissions.

Blog Published June 2020
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