Upcycling

-By Tammy

I’ve heard of bicycling, unicycling, recycling. I recently learned a new word- Upcycling. Naturallysavvy describes it as “taking something that you would otherwise throw out and finding a way to make it into something else.” That sounds like recycling. However, recycling is different in that you re-purpose something already used. Upcycling actually increases the value of the old object which would otherwise be discarded.

At Pacific Retina Care we try to be green.  We have not thought of ways to upcycle.  But we do recycle. We bring used ink cartridges to Office Max.  We recycle all bottles and cans.  And we make pads of scratch paper out of unwanted faxes that do not contain patient information.  We even use this paper to print our telephone triage slips and HMSA copay calculator slips.  Here are some terrific examples of upcycling.

I like this local store called Muumuu Heaven in Kailua. A good friend introduced me to it not so long ago. They sell beautiful clothing, locally-made accessories, and home furnishings. The owner/designer makes new garments out of old muumuus. She then uses the scraps and makes them into button-shaped refrigerator magnets; these adorable fish that hang as mobiles and door curtains; and bags to give customers rather than plastic. These are definitely examples of upcycling.

Another example is my friend’s new side business called Jen’s Pens. She designs and creates these stunning pens (in her ample free time- joke). She can order just about any wood, but she’d rather upcycle. When asked about upcycling, Jen said she tries to do so with “everything but the pen tips, ends, and ink. I use scrap wood, Corian, bone, corn cob, denim, metals, etc. I have salvaged anything from sink cut outs in Corian to old cabinet doors. Lots of people saving their junk for me to use.”. She also uses upcycled pen stands and pen bags. She gets her fabric bags from Brown Bird Green String.

 

 

 

My last and favorite example is from Walt Disney World. This Spring we were at Epcot Center rushing to try to experience everything we possibly could when bright colors caught our eyes. We stopped at a tiny kiosk from BeadforLife.org and listened, mesmerized by the colors abound. The kind lady explained that what we were seeing was hand-made jewelry made of recycled paper! Evidently Walt Disney World saves their scraps of paper and sends them to Uganda, via BeadforLife, to be transformed into gorgeous beaded pieces of art. Sure enough, each bead is made by painstakingly winding paper into colorful shapes. These spheres and ovoids are then strung into earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Amazing! Rather that discarding outdated schedules and brochures Disney re-purposes the potential landfill. Can you think of a way of turning something you would normally discard into something of value and/or beauty? We should all try to create treasures!

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