One form of our contribution to reducing waste is by upcycling or recycling items that are no longer used. What is upcycling and what can we upcycle? Here’s the review.

What is Upcycle?

Upcycling can also be referred to as the creative reuse of items that are no longer used. This concept is usually carried out by converting products that are no longer used into new products that are considered to be of higher quality and have more value for the environment.

So, what are the benefits for the earth? By upcycling, we contribute to:

1. Minimizing Natural Resource Extraction

When we upcycling, we have indirectly reduced the need for raw or synthetic materials in certain industries. This is then beneficial in reducing the use of resources, both natural and unnatural resources.

2. Reducing Waste in Landfill

We are used to buying things that are mass-produced and made in a flash. This then makes us consume more and throw it away. By upcycling, we can reduce the purchase and disposal of waste to the landfill.

Upcycling is also considered better than recycling. This is because activities to increase the use value of waste can make a product last longer. Meanwhile, recycled products tend to break down more quickly and end up as waste in the landfill.

3. Reducing Carbon Emissions

Minimizing resource consumption has two benefits, including conserving natural resources and reducing the need for manufacturing. The process of converting raw materials into finished products can result in large carbon emissions, especially during mass manufacturing.

In the US alone, the industrial sector generated about 23% of carbon emissions in 2019, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Plus, recycling still produces carbon emissions.

Applying Upcycle in Daily Life


You can start buying clothes or other fashion products from upcycle goods manufacturers. Currently, fashion designers have also started to apply the upcycle concept in their work.

Usually, the upcycle carried out in the fashion industry uses industrial textile waste from clothing as the basic material to create new fashions. The waste can be in the form of pre-consumer waste, post-consumer waste, or both. Pre-consumer waste is in the form of fabric residue produced by factories, while post-consumer waste refers to finished products that are no longer used by the owner.

Every time you shop from an upcycle manufacturer, you’re supporting a more sustainable industry. One of the fashion producers who apply the upcycle concept is Setali Indonesia (@setali.indonesia).

Home Products

Various products that you bring home can be upcycled into new items that have use value, you know! Among them:

  • Glass Bottles / Jars: Can be used as containers for food ingredients, snacks, and others. Can also be reused as decorations at home, such as candle holders or ornamental plant containers. Check Instagram for upcycle items you can use at home.
  • Cardboard Packaging: Can be converted into a container for your various belongings, especially for tissue or stationery.
  • Paper: Can be collected and used as a notebook. You can also turn it into a new sheet of paper for scrapbooking.
  • Pots or pans: If they are no longer suitable for cooking, these two items can be used as containers for ornamental plants, you know.