Upcycling Day, held every June 24, is an international celebration of repurposing old items and upcycling them so that they are not wasted. Upcycling is the process of repurposing old recyclable items made of metal, glass, or wood into something new, thus giving the material a new lease on life. There are probably dozens or hundreds of items in your house that can be upcycled, so why not take advantage of this day to do so? “Old is gold, and gold never goes out of style.”
History of Upcycling Day
Upcycling was coined in 1994 by two German engineers, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, to describe the remodification and re-engineering of old items so that they can be reused and thus given a second life. The idea of recycling was already in place, with scrap metal, glass, and paper being recycled. What makes upcycling and recycling so different? So, let us explain the distinction.
Recycling is the process of destroying waste and repurposing it to make something new from it, e.g. scrap metal is melted, processed, and then used to make a new item. Upcycling is unique in that it uses waste in its current state to create something new, such as a flower vase made from an empty bottle of wine. The benefit of upcycling is that you can give a raw material a second life without spending a lot of money on recycling, and you can also meet a current need with what you make.
Since the term ‘upcycling’ was coined, the word has spread, and people have begun to use their waste in novel ways. The biggest trend was noticed in 2002 when it was finally decided to celebrate upcycling as a public awareness initiative to encourage the conservation of metal, glass, paper, and anything else that can be reused. Soon after, many other businesses followed suit, and with the rise of social media, a slew of new websites, such as YouTube, popped up offering ideas for repurposing common scrap.
Since then, this day has been observed as a day to look for items that can be upcycled into useful items while having fun, being creative, and conserving precious raw materials.
Upcycling Day timeline
Linen and cotton rags are the first items to be recycled, introducing the concept of recycling to the world.
Two German engineers coin the term ‘upcycling’ and use it to educate people about the benefits of upcycling.
Upcycling gains traction and becomes a new trend, prompting the creation of a new 'Upcycling Day.'
This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Upcycling Day.
Upcycling Day FAQs
What is upcycling?
Upcycling is the modification of scrap into something useful while retaining the original state of the scrap. In other words, giving a second life to the scrap at your home is called upcycling.
How is upcycling different from recycling?
Upcycling is less expensive than recycling. Recycling is a comprehensive process in which a substance goes through a series of steps to return to its natural state before being repurposed. Upcycling is the process of twisting, turning, redecorating, and polishing waste for a good cause.
Where can I find the best ideas for upcycling?
Your brain is, without a doubt, the best source. You can be creative at any time. If you’re still having trouble unleashing your creativity, you can always look up ideas on the internet or watch videos on YouTube.
Upcycling Day Activities
Make a list of reusable scraps
Grab a clipboard and make a list of everything that is getting old, no longer being used, or is simply becoming scrap. Also, make a list of what you need at home and see if the scrap at your disposal can be used to make something you need.
Look for new ideas on the internet. Even if you don't need the scrap, it can be used to make some fancy homemade decoration pieces. Brightside and Five Minute Craft have some of the best ideas for using scrap and making something useful out of it.
Make a video of it
Whatever you make and how you make it, remember to record it and share it on social media. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #upcyclingday.
5 Interesting Facts About Upcycling Day
21% of the total
According to a survey, 21% of Americans upcycle the majority of the things that can be upcycled, such as clothes, boxes, and glass.
16.9 million tonnes of textile waste
Every year, approximately 17 million tonnes of textile waste are produced in the United States alone.
Recycling is expensive
Recycling was never cheap; it simply saved items that could be reused rather than thrown away.
Sharpens the mind
When you have nothing but scrap in front of you, it takes all of your mental creativity to come up with something new; if you succeed, it shows that you have a sharp mind.
Three pounds of CO2 saved
By reusing one pound of old clothes, we can avoid the production of three to four pounds of carbon dioxide gas.
Why We Love Upcycling Day
Conserves what is precious
We cannot afford to use up all of the resources and leave nothing for future generations because the Earth has limited resources. Upcycling allows us to use these limited resources wisely and sustainably while conserving valuable raw materials.
You've probably seen survival-mode T.V. shows and movies where people scavenge for whatever they can to stay alive, right? Consider yourself in a similar situation, where you have scrap from your home and must turn it into something useful. You have the materials, your brain, and your creativity. Enjoy!
From scrap to value-added
Tony Stark built an arc reactor out of scrap in an Afghan cave, believe it or not. Forget about being a billionaire, a playboy, a genius, or a philanthropist; he was essentially a mechanic who made things out of whatever he could get his hands on. We're confident that you too can turn scrap into something useful and valuable.
Upcycling Day dates