UPCYCLING, DOWNCYCLING, AND RECYCLING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
You must be familiar enough with recycling, especially if you want to help with waste management and promote sustainability. However, what about upcycling and downcycling? Wondering how they differ from each other? Read on as we present what they are with concrete examples!
Upcycling is when you transform a certain material with less value into something more valuable. For instance, you can turn plastic pouches of fabric softeners into tote bags. By cleaning these plastic pouches at home, cutting, and sewing them, you can make a useful shopping bag. Cut old jeans to create new skirts or produce new belts out of old bike tires. You can also cut the bottom part of plastic bottles and use them to plant seedlings.
Opposite to upcycling, downcycling makes a specific material less valuable because its original quality is hard to maintain. For example, you can turn your old or unused clothing into a wiping cloth or cleaning rag. Writing paper can also be made into a newspaper. While they have lower value, the materials are still being maximized.
A great alternative to traditional waste management, recycling aims to transform materials while maintaining the same value. They’re used in a circle, hence the name recycling. For instance, you can turn pure cotton into new cotton or wool into other wool textiles. Plastic and aluminum cans and bottles are also recycled into cans and bottles. However, given that many materials produce a lower quality after getting recycled, a huge part of recycling is considered downcycling.
Recycling, downcycling, and upcycling are indeed some of the ways to combat climate change and push for sustainability. You can aim for an equal or higher value of materials or turn them into something of lower quality. The most important thing is that you’re doing your part to help protect the environment.