upcycle defn

great insight from Aeron Dunford:

2011 interview about upcycling

Upcycling, Creativity, and Systems Change

when we start to see waste as a resource.. we start to see all kinds of other possibilities around us..


via wikipedia small:

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

The first recorded use of the term upcycling was by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH in an article by Thornton Kay of Salvo in 1994.

We talked about the impending EU Demolition Waste Streams directive. “Recycling,” he said, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling- where old products are given more value, not less.” He despairs of the German situation and recalls the supply of a large quantity of reclaimed woodblock from an English supplier for a contract in Nuremberg while just down the road a load of similar blocks was scrapped. In the road outside his premises, was the result of the Germans’ demolition waste recycling. It was a pinky looking aggregate with pieces of handmade brick, old tiles and discernible parts of useful old items mixed with crushed concrete. Is this the future for Europe?

The upcycling concept was the title of the German book written by Gunter Pauli in 1997, the free translation of Upsizing (the opposite of Downsizing) book first published in 1996. The German edition was adapted to the German language and culture by Johannes F. Hartkemeyer, then Director of the Volkshochschule in Osnabruck. The concept was later incorporated by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. They state that the goal of upcycling is to prevent wasting. potentially useful materials by making use of existing ones. This reduces the consumption of newraw materials when creating new products. Reducing the use of new raw materials can result in a reduction of energy usage, air pollution, water pollution and evengreenhouse gas emissions.

Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other half of the recycling process. Downcycling involves converting materials and products into new materials of lesser quality. Most recycling involves converting or extracting useful materials from a product and creating a different product or material.

For example, during the recycling process of plastics other than those used to create bottles, many different types of plastics are mixed, resulting in a hybrid. This hybrid is used in the manufacturing of plastic lumber applications. However, unlike the engineered polymer ABS which hold properties of several plastics well, recycled plastics suffer phase-separation that causes structural weakness in the final product.

In developing countries, where new raw materials are often expensive, upcycling is commonly practiced, largely due to impoverished conditions.

Upcycling has seen an increase in use due to its current marketability and the lowered cost of reused materials. Inhabitat, a blog devoted to sustainability and design, holds an annual upcycling design competition with entries coming from around the globe.

Upcycling has shown significant growth across the United States. For example, the number of products on Etsy tagged with the word “upcycled” increased from about 7,900 in January 2010 to nearly 30,000 a year later—an increase of 275%. As of April 2013, that number stood at 263,685, an additional increase of 879%


many/most answers/solutions/needs lie in unlikely places.

perhaps life’s treasures exist less in knowing about things, (ie: standard/regurgitate-able algorithms to help you pass tests in order to get in places; strategic business plans to help you make the most money so you will be happy),  and more about noticing/knowing/experiencing people/life.

which begs listening. deeply. assuming good. assuming that there is never nothing going on.


fall in love with questions quote

are we falling in love with the questions. the answers are everywhere. perhaps curiosity can save/heal/restore/revive/upcycle us.

rhizomatic expertise.


..ideas are works of bricolage; they’re built out of that detritus. Steven Johnson

bricolage: construction or creation from a diverse range of available things.

detritus: waste or debris of any kind

upcycling ness


some examples of upcycling:

landfill harmonic

walk out walk on – magazine

rewiring for interconnectedness

norway or ? that ran out of trash

Starvos Starvides

upcycling throw aways



resource ness – upcycle  –  upcycle human spirit  –  upcycle ed


peepoople and Molly Winter et al


when i die recompose me – katrina spade


CityLab (@CityLab) tweeted at 6:30 AM – 23 Jun 2018 :
Who’s ready for “aquamation,” the greener, cleaner way to die? https://t.co/esJcLjwili (http://twitter.com/CityLab/status/1010500408425492480?s=17)

urn to tree

Big Think (@bigthink) tweeted at 4:46 AM – 26 Oct 2019 :
This awesome urn will turn you into a tree after you die: https://t.co/1sYfG84vVl https://t.co/50aRDvg3IW(http://twitter.com/bigthink/status/1188044231618768896?s=17)


empty buildings



ai wei wei

Vista (@VVVista) tweeted at 4:27 AM – 25 Nov 2017 :

Could be an @aiww installation but no, this is what happens when supply of shared economy cycles outstrips demand https://t.co/kAMzcpOehY(http://twitter.com/VVVista/status/934382992511946753?s=17)

good bye cycle



Syamant Sandhir (@Syamant) tweeted at 4:24 AM – 25 Nov 2017 :

The model for recycling our old smartphones is actually causing massive pollution https://t.co/VyePtnWQJc (http://twitter.com/Syamant/status/934382346085720070?s=17)


Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) tweeted at 6:11 AM – 8 Mar 2019 :
Sobering analysis of the possibility of a “circular economy”. Only a small fraction of material throughput can be recycled. 44% is food and energy inputs, which are irreversibly degraded, while buildings/infrastructure are stocks, not flows. #postgrowh https://t.co/1fgdJ7H5gl (http://twitter.com/jasonhickel/status/1104006723583520768?s=17)


CNN (@CNN) tweeted at 5:42 AM – 23 May 2019 :
Canada will take back tons of garbage shipped to the Philippines years ago, in a major victory for President Rodrigo Duterte who had previously said he was prepared to “declare war” on Canada over the issue https://t.co/B4FWMWk970(http://twitter.com/CNN/status/1131525747275964416?s=17


CNN (@CNN) tweeted at 5:10 AM – 30 Oct 2019 :
Plastic milk bottles are being recycled to make roads in South Africa, with the hope of helping the country tackle its waste problem and improve the quality of its roads. https://t.co/3ea7u0rmA0 (http://twitter.com/CNN/status/1189499705937596417?s=17)


Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) tweeted at 5:03 AM – 28 Nov 2019 :
“Reusable” plastic bags have become just another product, and supermarkets are trying to maximise their sales. https://t.co/8RzCLMuTXL (http://twitter.com/jasonhickel/status/1200022300717920256?s=17)


bottles made of soap (pic)

World Economic Forum (@wef) tweeted at 5:30 AM – 4 Feb 2020 :
Plastic packaging problem: Five innovative ideas https://t.co/U0TGHDzDkv #Innovation #Sustainability https://t.co/qvx6emdbQt(http://twitter.com/wef/status/1224671459408326658?s=17)

Mi Zhou’s other projects include a leather alternative made of spent grain from brewing beer, home furnishings created from used textbooks, and paper made from leaves, petals and fabric rags.



Michel Bauwens (@mbauwens) tweeted at 4:39 AM – 1 Mar 2020 :
No casket, no cost: Tennesseans go back to ‘natural’ burial https://t.co/6AhIhwwBYy (http://twitter.com/mbauwens/status/1234080888574685185?s=17)


ladder upcycling