Many don’t know this, but upcycling is super important for our environment and for us humans. But what is upcycling? Upcycling is basically recycling old things, but you take those old things and using your own creativity you make those old things into something new. But why is it so important?
Firstly, upcycling gives an item a better purpose. When you upcycle an item, you aren’t breaking down the materials. You may be refashioning it — like cutting a t-shirt into strips of yarn — but it’s still made of the same materials as when you started. Also, the upcycled item is typically better or the same quality as the original.
Secondly, we have lots of wasted materials just sitting in our city landfills. Yearly, the whole world throws away 15 million tons of cloth; just cloth, and only 2.5 million tons actually get recycled and reused. But then 10 million tons are still sitting in landfills slowly decomposing, but now you’re wondering where the other 3 million went. Which leads to my next reason.
Thirdly, our air quality suffers from our lack of better recycled items. You know that other 3 million tons of cloth we were talking about? That amount of cloth gets taken and is combusted (lit on fire) and is used for energy recovery. Now I’m not saying that energy recovery is a bad thing, but lighting that much material on fire and releasing it into our atmosphere and causing the poor air quality that people have a hard time breathing in (people with weak/poor lungs and asthmatics). And let’s not even talk about how bad of a water footprint that it leaves on our water supplies.
Fourthly, we need to start upcycling more, because the average american throws away about 80 pounds of clothing per person. That adds to our landfill count drastically, and adds to the carbon and water footprint that cloth already leaves. If more Americans did choose to upcycle their recyclable items, then that can make a world of a difference. For example, if we recycle 2 million tons more of clothing per year it equates to taking 1 million cars off the streets in the U.S.