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Let's turn old into new: What exactly is upcycling?

Let's turn old into new: What exactly is upcycling?

Flower vases made from old bottles, a costume made from used curtains or discarded wine crates that serve as bookshelves: Upcycling has many facets. But what does it actually mean? And why is upcycling good for the environment?

While the word recycling has established itself in everyday life, upcycling is less well known. Recycling and upcycling are not so far apart at all: Both terms describe a type of recycling of residual or waste materials. “Upcycling” is a combination of “recycling” and the word “up”. The decisive factor here is that the materials used are upgraded and often receive a new destiny. This is the key difference to recycling or downcycling, where used materials tend to lose value.

Creatively making new things

Upcycling can take many shapes and colours. You have probably come across one or two upcycling projects in your everyday life. Garden benches made of pallets, flower pots made of rubber boots or an insect hotel made of old bricks and woods – the possibilities are endless. Artists are also inspired by this kind of recycling, creating sculptures from old bumpers, broken rubbish bins and many other things. In many places, upcycling is also an economic necessity in order to make the best use of everything that is available.  Everyday items are made from waste products, such as sandals made from old car tyres or drums made from empty tin cans.

Upcycling for the environment

Creativity and sustainability play a major role in upcycling. Good ideas can transform old, seemingly useless things into something new and special. As a result, fewer new raw materials are used and less waste is produced.
STAEDTLER uses this principle for its production: The philosophy of upcycling inspired us to create pencils made from upcycled wood. We manufacture high-quality pencils from wood chips left over from sawing and planing processes in the wood processing industry. In this way, we make particularly efficient use of wood as a resource and even the smallest wood scraps are given a new meaning.

Would you also like to try upcycling? From the chic vase to the handy chopping board, you can find creative tips here to take action yourself: