Thursday, April 19, 2012
Upcycle Versus Recycle
I think it is true to say that over the past decade, concern over our environment and the impact each of us have on it has grown tremendously. The government has imposed regulations that reduce the amount of air pollution. Most communities have curbside recycling programs. Grocery stores reward the use of reusable bags by deducting a small amount off your purchase. A number of new homes are built with a “lean and green” philosophy. Most of us are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages that recycling and upcycling have on our own environmental footprint.
In fact, it seems a whole lot of “cycling” goes on these days, and it can all become very confusing. Upcycling is a process that does not degrade the original materials. The advantage in upcycling is the lack of a need for new materials in order to make a finished product. The process can be repeated over and over, so the need for raw materials is very low once the initial product is introduced. The demand for energy is less in this process because parts of the product are already finished. A good example of upcycling is the manner in which we treat soda cans. After you turn them in at your local recycling building or supermarket, they are transported to a facility that melts down the cans and uses the aluminum to make new soda cans. No raw materials are needed and the amount of energy to upcycle the cans is much less than when the cans are created from scratch.
Recycling is a term that is likely familiar to us. Every week, we gather up last Sunday’s paper and rinse out our tin cans and milk cartons, place them in a specially marked container, and leave them out on the curb for a truck to come and take away. Unlike upcycling, materials in the recycling process are degraded and converted into a product of a lesser quality. An example of recycling is a deck chair made out of recycled milk jugs. Recycled items extend the amount of time before material is introduced into a landfill, but eventually that deck chair will become brittle or fade or crack, and the only place for it is the garbage.
Both “cycling” methods are environmentally sound processes that help each of us to reduce our impact on this world. Purchasing Barnwood furniture is a step in this direction. According to the definitions above, reclaiming wood from old barns is definitely part of the upcycling process. The wood does not undergo any changes and no new lumber is needed. The only energy needed to construct this furniture is what is required to prepare the wood and pound the nails. Furniture made from seasoned barn wood is extremely sturdy and will be dependable well into the future. Purchase a Wyoming Reclaimed Barnwood Dining Room Set, starting at $403, to increase your home’s style and reduce your footprint.