Spend much time on the green-webs and you are bound to stumble upon the term “upcycling.” First coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their must-read book Cradle to Cradle, upcycling is commonly defined as:
The process of converting an industrial nutrient (material) into something of similar or greater value, in its second life.
So how is this different than recycling? While recycling is mostly concerned with harvesting the valuable raw materials from an item in order to prevent fresh consumption of the material, upcycling is an attempt to repurpose a usually disposable item in a creative and functional way.
Upcyclers are not collecting paper to make more paper, nor are they hunting for cans to create more aluminum (they might want the deposit return though). Instead, they are thinking of clever ways to make trash into something special.
Check out these upcycling ideas to get started: