What is upcycling?

Qu'est-ce que l’upcycling ?

In practical terms, upcycling means making something new out of something old, while adding value. In other words, we transform a piece that we don't particularly use, giving it a new style or function. We give it a second life.

This can mean taking old clothes and transforming them into more fashionable pieces. Or taking pallets and turning them into a bar for the terrace of your home. But upcycling can also be found in decorating, art, etc. Upcycling is all about making something new out of something old, with the added bonus of a unique, aesthetic edge.

In France, upcycling is becoming more and more fashionable, and brands and individuals alike are increasingly adopting it, thus participating in a circular fashion. In other words, taking what exists and turning it into something new. In this way, upcycling is part of a process of awareness-raising about the way we consume, in particular to fight against fast fashionThe textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world.

The difference between recycling and upcycling is that in recycling, the material is "destroyed" in order to rebuild something. Here, the principle is to start with an object and revalue it, without spending the energy to reproduce it, as is the case with recycling.

Where does upcycling come from?

Upcycling first appeared in Germany in the 90s. In fact, Reiner Pilz, an engineer turned interior designer, was the first to coin the term, as he felt that people were thinking in terms of recycling or destruction, without ever thinking of the revalorization option, which offers so many possibilities. For him, recycling destroyed while lowering the value and quality of objects, whereas upcycling meant not destroying but adding value and quality to the product.

The term was later taken up by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book.

What's more, developing countries have also played a major part in this concept through recycling, notably due to a lack of resources. They are the real forerunners of upcycling.

Today, as we explained earlier, upcycling is developing in developed countries, thanks in particular to the growing interest in ecological problems and the need to act by offering an alternative, or rather a complement, to recycling.

What's at stake?

Above all, upcycling is more environmentally friendly because it avoids consuming energy and/or water to produce or re-produce. As a result, the production of new products is slowed down, as are their environmental impacts (use of pesticides, excessive water consumption, chemical treatments, pollution linked to transport...).

It's also less costly, because we start with a material that has already been created and does not require any new energy expenditure to be recycled. What's more, for private individuals, giving new life to an object is often less expensive than buying a new one.

What's more, there's a rewarding and creative side to upcycling materials to make something unique out of them. So upcycling is accessible to everyone, all the time.

How do you put it into practice?

Upcycling can be put into practice by individuals, through their own imagination, but also through the many articles and videos that have been published recently. In some cities, there are even group courses on how to get started.

Upcycling can also be used in the fashion industry, by salvaging old clothes/fabrics/linens - which you have at home, or from flea markets, garage sales, thrift shops, etc. - and transforming them into other garments, clutches, cushions, accessories, etc.

But upcycling can be done in many other areas too. All you need is one or more objects and your imagination!

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The information contained in the articles on www-elia-lingerie.com is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.