What is Upcrafting and How Can You Apply It in Your Own Life?

Recycling, downcycling, upcycling… there are so many terms to remember when it comes to living a greener lifestyle nowadays. While recycling is all about turning trash into reusable material, upcycling refers to reusing discarded objects or materials to create products that are of higher value than the original products they came from. Here is an example of awesome upcycled bags.

Freitag 9

Believe it or not, this bag is upcycled!

Another term that you might not have heard of yet is upcrafting. We spoke to Adavieve Mella, a woman who is big in the world of upcrafting, in order to learn more about it and maybe start applying it to our everyday lives, as well. Ada explains that “upcrafting” is basically a combination of upcycling and crafting. Creative artists who also happen to be earth warriors save Mother Earth by “upcrafting” old stuff.

Upcycling is a concept incorporated in the book by German chemist Michael Braungart and American designer William McDonough in their book, “Cradle to Cradle: The Way we make Things.” It is a title of a German book first published in English in 1998 by Gunter Pauli. Michael Braungart, and William McDonough that emphasizes on upcycling to prevent wasting things and to instead reuse things to avoid buying more.

Reusing things that we have reduces the consumption of raw materials when creating new products, thereby reducing the need to use energy. Air pollution and water pollution can be minimized if we get into the habit of reusing stuff, if even just in our own little ways.

denim pouches for cookie bags

Ada shares that she started to “upcycle” things when she realized that she had so many things in her house. “I had to get rid of most of my stuff to make way for my baby’s things,” she shares. “Most of them were sold in garage sales and others were donated, but there were still a few things left. Instead of throwing them away, I decided to use them for another purpose.”

Ada cites some examples for this. ” I turned my old shirts into T-shirt yarn or tarn, which I then used to make rugs for our home, paperclip designs, jersey bracelets, and a placenta model. My denim pants were used to make denim pouches (these denim pouches served as my cookie container for my cookie buffet), my old makeup as a medium for drawing, and my dad’s old neckties as necktie pouches.”

If you want to give upcycling a try at home, Ada recommends starting with simple things. You can upcycle perfume bottles into vases, for example, or turn unused utensils into hooks. Denim pants can be turned into bookmark designs and pouches, and you can learn to crochet or knit to put T-shirt yarn into good use.

ornaments made from tshirt yarn or tarn

Aside from being good for the environment, Ada points out that upcycling can be a fun DIY activity. “Many upcycling activities don’t need huge machines to break down, melt, or mix different materials (there are tons of DIY upcycling/upcrafting ideas in Pinterest!),” she shares. “The good thing about upcycling is that the original form is maintained. For the downcycling process to happen, you need to melt, mix, or break down elements, and these treatment processes require machines. Gases emitted during this process are not safe, either.”

make up art gentle birth

If you’re having trouble getting into the world of upcycling, Ada has some tips for you, too:
1. Sort your things according to these three groups: donate, sell, or upcycle.

2. Once you have identified stuff to be upcycled, think about your forte. Ada started with clothes because she used to have a lot of them. “If you have tons of make up and you love to draw, use your make up as your medium. If plastic bottles are readily available, turn them into pots, accessories or ornaments.”

3. Bear in mind that you upcycle for the following reasons: to reuse a product, to give a gift, to avoid buying another product with the same purpose, and to avoid trash.

Ada points out that the logic is simple: less waste, less need to recycle. So, #purchasewithprudence!

Upcycle This, Philippines