Upcycling, Downcycling, Recycling
Upcycling, recycling, downcycling, there’s a lot of cycling going around but what’s the difference?
Recycling is the most commonly known term. It simply means that materials are recovered and reused to prolong their lifespan – while consequently preserving our natural resources. For example, by recycling paper we save trees, and by recycling plastic bottles we avoid oil extraction.
Upcycling and downcycling are both forms of recycling. These subcategories simply distinguish whether materials have been turned into something of greater value or lesser value.
Upcycling is about moving materials back up the supply chain. The quality and composition of the material is not degraded and so they can be used like new again. For example, aluminum cans can be broken down and made back into new cans. The leather from an old sofa can be turned in to handbags. Or the wood from a shed turned in to a table. The quality of the material is not sacrificed in the process, its integrity is kept, and its properties remain the same.
Downcycling, as you may suspect, is when the materials of a product are repurposed into something of lesser value. For example, your old clothes may get shredded up and used as building insulation. They are no longer useful in the form they started but the materials have not ended up as trash.
Recycling of textiles is a huge challenge for the industry. Currently the majority of textile waste – including pattern off cuts, and the clothes you no longer wear, gets sent to landfill. But at Teddy Locks we are focused on using recycled fibers. That's why the cotton in our tshirts, and the nylon in our socks are both recycled from within the manufacturing process while the polyester we use is made from used plastic bottles. You can learn more about the materials we use here.
No matter the type of recycling, all recycling is good for the planet, and there are plenty of ways you can actively recycle at home – you can make a new rug from an old bed sheet, transform socks into dish cloths, and use old containers as plant pots. The process can be applied to anything you no longer have use for - it is simply about giving unwanted materials a new, longer life and preserving our natural resources.