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  • Overview
  • Why Upcycle?
  • 3 Ways to Start Upcycling Now
  • What Can You Upcycle?
  • Upcycling Your Closet

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

Upcycling

Upcycling is transforming a cast-off item into something useful and, especially at Martha Stewart Living, more beautiful. The object may be discarded for a variety of reasons: It’s old, torn, stained, chipped. But through upcycling, you can extend the life of something you love, or breathe new life into something worn. Almost anything can be upcycled -- mason jars retooled into sewing kits, shrunken sweaters into mittens, teacups into light-plate switches. The goal is to personalize each upgrade in a way that is meaningful. For instance, fashioning your grandmother’s faded floral housedress into an apron; by doing so, you capture a sweet pattern from a bygone era, while staying connected to memories of your grandmother. But upcycling is not only delightfully gratifying for the DIY crafter, it’s also smart for the environment.

 

Upcycling, like recycling, contributes to sustainability. But recycling is a chemical process (using water and energy) that breaks down an object. It follows the basic principle that everything can retain its usefulness. And while upcycling is a form of recycling, upcycling takes the theory a step further: Discarded objects can be transformed into something even more beautiful than their original forms, turning low-valued objects into highly valued ones -- or trash into treasure.

 

The concept of upcycling is not a new phenomenon. Since before the Great Depression, society has engaged in its practices -- mainly out of an economical need, eking every use out of an object. The term "upcycling" wasn’t coined until the 1990s. It wasn’t until 2002 that the term became more mainstream, when William McDonough and Michael Braungart legitimized it in their book "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things."

Upcycling is transforming a cast-off item into something useful and, especially at Martha Stewart Living, more beautiful. The object may be discarded for a variety of reasons: It’s old, torn, stained, chipped. But through upcycling, you can extend the life of something you love, or breathe new life into something worn. Almost anything can be upcycled -- mason jars retooled into sewing kits, shrunken sweaters into mittens, teacups into light-plate switches....

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All About Upcycling

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