2017 Apr 22
Unlike the process of recycling which takes materials and breaks them down into their base material, upcycling is the process of transforming old items that you would usually throw away, into something that has a new use. Basically what you are doing is refashioning an item while keeping the material that you initially started with as the same. Think along the lines of cutting out old credit cards into guitar picks or using toilet paper rolls to keep your cables organized. Upcycling isn’t just a hipster thing anymore, it has actually caught on and people have started to realize its potential. Having said that, here are five reasons why you should start upcycling.
Up-cycling is greener than recycling
Yes, you read that right. How you ask? Well with some logical thought, it is pretty easy to understand. Let’s say you are to recycle an empty salmon tin. The tin will go through a series of processes and will finally be shaped into a new tin that will be of a lesser quality than the original tin. However if you repurpose it into something like a storage tin or a cutting tool through the process of upcycling, you will now have an item that is better than the original which did not have to go through a lengthy recycling process.
2. You can get creative
What I mean by this is that almost anything that you are about to throw away has the potential to be turned into something else. We Sri Lankans have so many resources that we can utilize. Don’t buy plastic serving spoons; make your own polkattu handi instead. You can even use polkattu to fashion some of your own jewelery. Paint some old clay pots around your kitchen to give them a new life as a wall hanging. The little ones can join in too; parents, give them some items and ask them to come up with ideas to turn them into something else. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. The possibilities are endless so let your imagination run riot.
3. It keeps our oceans and lands clean
Everything that we use and throw away is not going to go anywhere; it’s going to stay here on planet Earth. Forget the global scale; even on a local scale the amount of waste we produce is immense, the numbers are truly staggering. While you might not know this, sixty percent of garbage dumped in Meethotamulla is actually perishable but because it is mixed in with plastics and other materials it does not decompose. So why not make your own compost at home out of food scraps? It will be a small step but at least the amount of garbage heading to Meethotamulla and other landfills will decrease.
4. It reduces multiple footprints
Okay, let’s say you want to head out and buy a bag for yourself. You’re probably going to head to one of Colombo’s leading shopping malls. The raw materials for that bag came from one country, the labor probably from another. It was assembled in a separate facility and finally shipped across oceans to our shores. Now in the process a lot of footprints would have increased. I’m talking carbon, methane and oil. However if you were to fashion your own bag out of an old pair of jeans, you would be pretty much avoiding all of this – think about what is happening, make a change by giving an old item a new life.
5. You’re gonna save some bucks
This is self-explanatory actually. If you do become an avid upcycler, you’re going to purchase fewer things and thus reduce the amount of money that you spend. The catch though is that this is easier said than done as we Sri Lankans are really good at buying things. If you do however, that extra money can be saved for something else. Maybe you can use to treat yourself to a nice meal for being a responsible citizen. Just don’t go spending it on things you don’t need though because well, that defeats the purpose doesn’t it?
So in the wake of the recent tragedy that occurred in Meethotamulla, it really is time to wake up and understand the gravity of the problem we are facing. Change is not something that can happen instantaneously but for it to happen, we do have to start somewhere. Instead of waiting on the world to change, why not start with yourself? Start with the man in the mirror. Even the littlest change can go a long way. I really do hope that reading this prompts you to make a difference.