The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Make something new

Upcycling: Creative Recycling

The general population is incredibly familiar with the notion of recycling. The “three-R’s” — reduce, reuse, recycle — have been drilled into our brains and lifestyles since the ripe ages of elementary school. 

However, unbeknownst to some individuals, there is a forgotten cousin of the recycling family that is characterized by the process of reusing old materials and to create another product that possesses more value or has a higher quality. This forgotten family member is called “upcycling.” 

“Also known as creative reuse, the process of upcycling gives old objects a second life. It is all about materials being repurposed into something of greater value,” Reader’s Digest contributor, Emma Taubenfeld, described. 

Upcycling projects have become increasingly relevant commodities by the means of today’s standards. Many people are beginning to understand the sustainability and positivity behind the upcycling process; not to mention, the final products that are created end up being perfect additions to countless homes. 

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Through the process of upcycling, the planet is inevitably benefitted despite the fact that this welfare can not be seen by the naked eye. 

“Giving used products a new life reduces the need to use unethically sourced or unsustainable materials, like plastic, to create new products. Think about shoes made from recycled water bottles. Not only does upcycling plastic prevent a build-up of plastic waste, but it also provides new shoes without using new resources,” contributor for the Brightly website, Kylie Fuller, explained. 

Upcycling minimizes the extraction of natural resources, reduces landfill waste, and allows for less carbon emissions due to the fact that there is less mechanical manufacturing and processing. 

Many items that are believed to be “waste” can undergo the upcycling process. For example, reclaimed wood from an old project can become a new chair, raggedy middle-school t-shirts can become a new quilt, an empty root beer bottle can be transformed into a bird feeder; the possibilities really are endless.

 “Upcycling is an often custom, creative, and DIY solution to the problem of excess waste and shopping. Think of turning a tin can into a planter, the sleeves of a ratty old sweater into leg warmers, a wood door into a coffee table, turning remnants of an old shirt into a new dress, etc,” contributor for the Teen Vogue website, T. Louise, urged. 

Though upcycling sounds incredibly similar to recycling, there is one very important aspect that sets the two apart from each other. 

“Recycling takes consumer materials – mostly plastic, paper, metal and glass – and breaks them down so their base materials can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality. When you upcycle an item, you are not breaking down the materials. You may be refashioning it – like cutting a T-shirt into strips of yarn – but it is still made of the same materials as when you started. Also, the upcycled item is typically better or the same quality as the original,” the Habitat for Humanity website clarified. 

There are countless ways to begin an upcycling journey; moreover, this new hobby can act as a stress-reliever and creative outlet for some individuals, and through selling a fraction of the projects that are made, it is even attainable to earn a few bucks in the process.

This being said, the next time you think about throwing away an old t-shirt, a barren coffee can, or an empty bottle, it might be worth a try to creatively turn it into something new and give upcycling a try. 

For information regarding upcycling, please visit and /


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Campbell Burnett
Campbell Burnett, Content Editor

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