Upcycling Isn't A Trend; It's A Way To Reduce Waste And Help The Environment!

While most people are familiar with the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, a new creative and innovative way to further build on the reuse and reduce ideas has gained popularity in the sustainable and eco-friendly communities - upcycling.

Most people mistake recycling for upcycling and even its opposite, downcycling, since recycling is so commonly known and referred to. However, each process is different, with varying levels of sustainability.

Our commitment to the #Root2Renew extends beyond compostability and recycling at EcoBlvd. We believe that all products can and should be reused without becoming waste in a circular economy. 

Find out more about what upcycling is and why it is so important compared to recycling and downcycling.

What’s the Difference Between Recycling, Downcycling, and Upcycling?

Although recycling, downcycling and upcycling all involve the management and disposal of waste, each word derives its meaning from the word's beginning.

  • Recycling: refers to repurposing used products and materials again and returning them to their raw forms, such as taking soda cans, plastic bottles, or newspapers. In most cases, recycling requires a lot of additional energy to break down a product into its raw materials and is more for industrial use.

  • Downcycling: refers to breaking down products or materials rather than reusing them and instead repurposing them into new products of lesser quality and value. Items cannot be recycled completely when branded or printed, so materials like steel from end-of-life cars cannot be reused, so they are used for construction, such as support beams. Unfortunately, because downcycled products are seen as having lesser value and quality, it is argued that they have fewer possible applications.
  • Upcycling refers to converting waste or unwanted items into useful products or improving the value of existing products. The goal of upcycling is to reduce waste and improve the lifespan of the resources used, such as using an empty can as a vase or using plastic bags to store items around the house.

The Importance of Upcycling for Sustainability

While many think that recycling is an infinite loop cycle, unfortunately, only metal and glass can be continually used without a degradation in quality whereas paper, plastic, and other materials eventually become too low-grade and thus end up downcycled and eventually in landfills which is environmentally harmful.

Upcycling eliminates the need for new and/or raw materials since it revolves around the idea of reusing and for the most part repurposing. As a result, we reduce air pollution, water pollution, and chemical usage from manufacturing. By reducing what goes to landfills, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as save natural resources.

You can also save money by upcycling items that you already own into new ones.

What Materials Or Products Can Be Upcycled?

Many products that we use on a daily basis can easily be upcycled by using a little creativity to extend their life.

Common materials and products  that can be upcycled include:

  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Aluminum
  • Metal & Tin Cans
  • Paper & Cardboard
  • Wood
  • Rubber
  • Clothes & Fabrics
  • Jewelry
  • Denim
  • Furniture
  • Makeup Brushes
  • Garden Waste

7 Ways You Can Upcycle At Home

1. Use Older Makeup Brushes For Cleaning:The makeup brushes are compact enough to fit into the tiniest of nooks and crannies and are able to clean and scrub the most difficult of surfaces perfectly!

2. Repurpose a Baking Sheet as a Messaging Board: When your favorite baking sheet has reached the end of its useful life, what should you do? Make it into a cute reminder or message board to stay organized! Hang it in the kitchen to display notes and recipes.

3. Turn An Old Shirt Into Face Masks: Making cloth face masks at home is an eco-friendly alternative to single-use, disposable masks.

4. Reuse Candle Jars As Storage Containers: We all have a few burnt-out candles lying around. Rather than tossing them out, you can repurpose them into jars, pen holders, makeup brush holders, cotton round holders, and many other items.

5. Reupholster Thrifted Or Older Furniture: Reupholstering old or tired furniture can help you give them new life if you are confident in your abilities. With this simple upcycling hack, your old sofa or chair will look as good as new!

6. Use An Old Drying Rack To Organize Files: If you need more organization at your desk or in your office, repurpose an old drying rack. You can easily store files, and paperwork, and keep your space neat with the placeholders.

7. Convert Wine Bottles into Vases: After you've enjoyed a bottle of wine, clean it up and remove the labels (or keep if it's got a unique design!) and use it to house a fresh bouquet of flowers. 

These are just some creative ways to upcycle older items around the house! We would love to see what you come up with!


Upcycling is so important because it is one of the few circular processes that can enhance the value and quality of materials and products.

As we strive to reduce waste, we'd love to hear how you repurpose and upcycle our packaging, phone cases, shipping envelopes, charging cables, and more.