Upcycling Vs. Recycling

The bell goes off, and two worthy contenders step into the ring. We have the time and tested Recycling methods known worldwide in the red corner. In the blue corner, we have the modern, hip method of upcycling that is becoming a worthy contender for environmentally conscious individuals. Who will take victory as the best method?

The answer is neither. Both of these strategies are highly effective regarding environmental sustainability and protection. However, if you are a little confused about the difference, we don’t blame you and are here to help. By the end of this article, you will have an exceptional understanding of Recycling and upcycling that will leave your friends saying, Waoh!


Recycling is a term we are all familiar with; it isn’t new and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Recycling, in its simplest form, means breaking down and reusing. However, a more in-depth explanation is as follows. 

‘Recycling is collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products’ – United States EPA.

When a person recycles, they are directly positively impacting the environment by reducing the amount of waste, conserving natural resources, increasing economic security, and reducing pollution. Recycling is, of course, a step in the right direction, but it does require a lot of energy and resources for it to happen. That is where Upcycling comes in; an easy and efficient alternative for reusing products and materials.


Upcycling is very similar to Recycling; in the sense that you are reusing a product and its materials. However, the difference is that Upcycling does not involve a product’s composition. 

For example, imagine a father making lovely pasta for his family. The father empties the sauce into the saucepan and begins stirring. He then asks his daughter to rinse the jar under the sink and throw it into the recycling bin. That jar will go on to be broken down and made into a new pot; this creates an endless chain of events we now know as Recycling. 

However, let me pose a secondary example. Imagine a father is cooking pasta, but instead of asking his daughter to throw the jar into the recycling bin, he instead asks her to dry it and place it on the counter. The daughter, confused, does so and asks her father why. The father explains that he needed a jar to hold his loose coins. The father then tells his daughter they will use the change at the end of every month to go out for some ice cream. 

The result here is the same, with both positively impacting the environment. However, the primary difference was the pot did not need to be broken down to be used again. Instead, the father rinsed the jar and immediately began using it to hold his coins. The father not only found a new use for the jar, but he also reduced the number of resources needed for Recycling, essentially taking matters into his own hands. 

Upcycling originated in 1994; however, it wasn’t until the last few years that it became mainstream. Upcycling is becoming increasingly popular, with social platforms like Tiktok giving rise to creative ideas. What makes Upcycling awesome is that it is fun and limited by your imagination. Regardless of what you are doing with your day, there is absolutely room for some upcycling in your life. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Turning Sauce Jars into Free-form containers
  • Using Packaging Materials for Storage
  • Repurpose old clothing into face masks
  • Transform plastic bottles into pot plants
  • Repurposing tin cans into lanterns


In any case, Recycling and upcycling are essential for preserving our beautiful environment. Regardless of what you are doing or where you are, we encourage everyone to try and refine their recycling methods while implementing a few upcycling tricks into their life. And be sure to upload a video to Waoh so we can check out your fantastic ideas. By pooling all of our thoughts and creations into one place, we can genuinely streamline the betterment of our world.

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