The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines upcycle as “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item : to create an object of greater value from (a discarded object of lesser value)”.

We agree with the sentiment.  The only problem with that definition is it uses the word “recycle”.  Though both terms are positive and socially responsible, recycling and upcycling mean two different things.

Recycling involves collecting consumer items such as metal, glass, paper and plastics and breaking them down to their original base material, which can be reused to make new products.  In the textile industry, fibre made out of cotton, wool, polyester and nylon are often recycled.

UpcycleThat.com defines upcycling as “taking something that’s considered waste and repurposing it.”  They also describe it as “a creative process where waste is looked at as a resource.  Materials are reused in a clever new way, giving them a second life and function.” 

One of our favorite brands to work with is an upcycler.  Allie Chamberlain, founder of Reclaim Creative located in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a slow fashion advocate.  Allie repurposes old textiles, often vintage quilts that are decades old, to make new garments that are meant to be mended, meant to last, and meant to be repurposed at the end of their lifecycle.  Allie’s work is beautiful, talented, and good for the earth.  In a state known for its music, Allie is the true rock star of her industry.

At Doo Dah Apparel, we haven’t quite mastered the art of upcycling yet.  But we’re trying.  We will say, though, like everyone else, we are pretty good at repurposing fancy old glass olive oil bottles, gorgeous but empty balsamic vinegar bottles, and even some of those neat but wickless and waxless candlestick holders into beautiful new flower vases.  Now that’s making sure nothing goes to waste!

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