Creating astonishingly beautiful pieces from materials many would simply discard is what makes upcycling unique. It takes an artistic eye and the skill to look at a piece of furniture, a plastic shopping bag or pieces of cotton fabric and see a re-imagined and better piece.

Upcycling bulbs

Upcycling has grown in popularity and is credited as being introduced to popular culture by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH in 1994 during an interview he gave about the process of European waste systems.

 “What we need is upcycling- where old products are given more value, not less.”

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling refers to reusing an object in a new way without degrading the material it is made from, as opposed to recycling which generally involves breaking down the original material and making it into something else, using more energy.

reclaim upcycling de castro

Upcycled Clothing:

Designer Orsola de Castro is known as the “Queen of Upcycling,” for her fashion-forward eco apparel. She addressed the issue of growing landfills in China at an EcoChic Design Academy seminar in Hong Kong.

Today’s fashion industry is increasingly overproducing garments and textiles, said de Castro.

 “What is being thrown away into landfill is often beautiful and usable for designers who can approach such materials in a creative way.”


Upcycled Bags and Totes:

Another designer has ventured into eco-designs. Catalina Estrada has created bags and pouches from upcycled plastic. I spotted this vibrant pouch in the store window of a local shop and had to stop. It was made by Catalina Estrada. I loved the pattern, but was excited to see it was made of upcycled plastic.

catalina estrada

Upcycled Furniture and Build Out:

Can often be a DIY project, but Hammer and Hand, based in Portland specializes in  sustainable,local,superbly designed, expertly crafted furniture.

interior redo upcycling

What are your favorite upcycled products?

For more ideas check out: 151 Upcycling Ideas That Will Blow Your Mind.