With all the different kinds of ways to reduce your stuff, some of the jargon can get confusing. I used to wonder what the difference was between “recycling” and “upcycling”: isn’t reusing material all just recycling anyway? As I found out, that’s not really the case.


We’re all familiar with recycling: processing used materials into new materials. The trash guys come to pick up our glass, cans, and paper to take to the recycling plants to be made into reusable products. (Or we take it to the recycling plant ourselves!) It’s not a process we can do at home.


But what about upcycling? What’s that all about? Upcycling is, according to Wikipedia, “The process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” It’s just basically a fancy way of saying, “Making new stuff out of old stuff,” or as my mom would say, “Being crafty.” It’s taking what’s left over from the stuff you use and turning those leftovers into new, better products.


When you’re doing your spring cleaning, take a look at some of the stuff you’re thinking of selling or giving away and see if they can be upcycling projects you can do around the house (or any time of year, really). Here are just a few ideas:

  • Bike innertube wallets
  • Plastic bag headband
  • Teabag origami
  • Shower curtain kites
  • Denim tote bag made from old jeans
  • CD jewel case picture frames


And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally hundreds of upcycling projects you can do! I know it definitely makes me look twice at what I can upcycle in my house. In fact, I have some old towels that I can turn into a new bathmat right now!

Have your own upcycling projects? Like us on Facebook and tell us about them!