A couple of months ago, I wrote an article, “Product Creation: Old is New Again,” about how much easier it is to create products by developing twists on old ideas than it is to try to come up with something completely original. Recently, I ran across a new label on an old idea: Upcycling. It just means taking trash and revamping it into useful or sellable products without destroying it in the process. That is, in most “recycling” you see the original product go through a transformative process, such as turning plastic bottles into plastic grocery bags. In upcycling, you still see the original product in the new product, such as old soda cans that have been flattened, cut and incorporated into fanciful jewelry.
This idea is very old. Junk men have been taking other people’s trash and discards for millennia and selling them as is or componentizing them for sale as materials for others’ projects.
How many times have you heard, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” or seen books or articles with the title or subtitle “trash-to-treasure?”
Well, the trash-to-treasure idea is alive, well and “green.” And it is as profitable as ever.
You don’t have to become a junk man, however, because people at all levels, from solo artists and crafters to large re-manufacturers, are rescuing potential treasure components, and using them creatively in a multitude of projects.
People who can sew are remodeling clothing, salvaging material from discarded clothing, salvaging fabric from remnants and old linens, turning some of the most unusual items into buttons and other item to sew into and decorate clothing and decorator items and salvaging other components like thread with outdated or faded color.
Innovative crafters salvage high tech discards like computer boards and turn them into coasters, clock faces and picture frames!
A little creative thinking (or perusing of others’ ideas) can net you hundreds of ways you can use everyday trash and valuable discards to make products and profits. Quite a large number of folks are doing “upcycling” all around the world. Start in your own home. You’ll find a trove a materials you didn’t know you were keeping for your future business.
If you want to see some examples, visit the following links:
• Terracycle: http://www.terracycle.net/upcycling
• Recycled crafts: http://recycledcrafts.craftgossip.com/
• Squidoo: http://www.squidoo.com/useful-upcycled-crafts
For lots more information, here are the Google searches I found useful:
• “upcycle” http://www.google.com/search?hl=&q=upcycle&sourceid=navclient-ff&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US231&ie=UTF-8
• “trash to treasure” http://www.google.com/search?sclient=psy&hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US231&biw=1134&bih=864&source=hp&q=trash+to+treasure&aq=0&aqi=g10&aql=&oq=trash+to+&pbx=1&cad=cbv