6/14/2010

Repurpose or Upcycle?

I'm rethinking my shop, item and tag descriptions for Buenahelena. The debate is between repurpose and upcycle. All the green words are hot right now, so I thought why not share the definitions to help others equally unsure.

Many people often interchange repurposed, upcycled and recycled in their descriptions, but there are subtle differences...

  1. Repurposing: The act of giving something with one purpose another useful purpose. The item itself usually doesn't change, but is given a new context for use.
  2. Upcycling: The process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products that are better quality or a higher environmental value.
  3. Recycling: The processing of used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials and reduce energy consumption. This usually means the quality of the product stays the same or is downcycled, that is of lower environmental value.
(Definitions courtesy of Wikipedia)


With this knowledge I am considering just what my products are. For example I have vintage button rings and earrings. The buttons aren't useless per se. The buttons aren't necessarily of higher quality now that they are on rings. They are in a different context though, so...repurposed? Another example is my vintage cocktail napkin coaster sets. The napkins could have been used as is, but with the protective vinyl they can now be used again and again without waste, so...upcycled?

What do you think? What do you do yourself?

1 comment:

  1. How helpful those definitions are! I think you are right: your button rings are repurposed and your napkins are upcycled. I hadn't really recongnized the difference, but have been using upcycled mostly because I thought it was a trendier way of saying recycled. I'm glad I know know and understand the difference!

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