What is upcycling and why is it so important in times of environmental crisis

What is upcycling and why is it so important in times of environmental crisis

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The planet is in crisis, there is no way to sustain the current level of consumption and it is necessary to review our habits. One of the keys lies in recycling, and that is where the concept of upcycling.

Upcycling and fashion

The system we are targeting is based on the three Rs: reduce (buy new products), reuse and recycle. The first point is very important, since we only use 20% of the clothes that we have controlled in the closet“Some fashion designers say.

Heupcycling would be within the category "re-use“, Which proposes to extend the useful life of a product through modifications to improve it, and also to buy second-hand clothes.

An estimated 50 million tons of clothing is discarded each year, most of it does not biodegrade in landfills. In addition, synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon can also leach chemicals into the ground, and if incinerated, they can become carcinogenic.

Only in Spain some 405,000 tons of textile waste are generated annually, including clothing and household clothing. If we reuse these garments instead of abandoning them or creating new ones, we would save many liters of water and CO2“, Say the designers.

In addition to the problem of waste generated, the use of water in the fashion industry is added as an environmental problem. The manufacture of a single standard T-shirt involves the expenditure of 2,700 liters of water, therefore theupcycling comes as a solution.

But this trend is not new, back in the 90s, some designers had already tried to put it into practice, but it is today, when the planet has already reached the limit that they begin to take this way of creating fashion collections seriously. starting from the reuse of garments and fabrics.

Recycling today is the most logical option for clothing brands. This new (re) production model uses materials such as recycled polyamide, which is obtained from waste such as old fishing nets, carpets or scraps.

Upcycling is a sustainable creative resource that adds more value to discarded items; This action transforms “junk” into potentially marketable products: it can be done by changing and adding a personal touch to the design, improving the quality of the material, or fixing an unused object”Say the designers.

He upcycling it also uses pre-consumer waste that originates from the factories themselves, such as leftover fabrics from cuts or garments that are faulty.

The crime of fast fashion

Fast fashion companies are major contributors to these problems, as their main purpose is to produce cheap clothing in large quantities and most with irregular working conditions.

They encourage excessive consumption, buy-use-throw away, and garments are often used only once.

Rethinking fashion

What will happen to this shirt, bag or sneakers when I finish wearing it? In the short term, we must change the way we shop, because we will only buy things with legitimate value and a feasible end use.

If we want to live a sustainable life, we need slow fashion clothing options and the upcycling is a possible solution, since it implements a circular economy model, where resources are used for as long as possible, obtaining more value while they are in use, and then restoring and reusing them when we stop using them.

Upcycling in quarantine by UpcyclingU + 1

Given the current quarantine circumstances, the founder of the UpcyclingU + 1 brand, Agustina dos Santos Claro, answers some questions about how to put this creative technique into practice from home:

  • What kinds of materials can be used to bring new garments to life?

The possibilities to give life to a garment are endless, and in many cases it does not take more than a scissors, thread, needle and creativity.

There are a variety of materials that can be used and many can be found in our homes: beads, beads, sequins and studs, various ribbons, paint for fabrics or anilines, lace, lace, etc. Now is a good time to use them!

For those who are not very skilled with crafts, any ideas so that they can practice upcycling in a simple way?

Upcycling has endless possibilities and techniques, the key is to research and see which one you are interested in trying or which one you feel more comfortable with to start with.

My proposal for these days I am going to differentiate them into two categories: one where the garment is intervened with different techniques, but its shape is not altered, and another where scissors and a lot of imagination are already used to completely change the garment.

  • Garments can be intervened:
  1. PaintingIf they have fabric paint, it's fun and easy. In addition, it is an activity in which the little ones can participate.
  2. Applying studsThey come in many forms, some are glued with heat, others are sewn, etc.
  3. Embroidering with threads or with beads, beads and sequins.
  4. Staining completely or with some knotting technique to achieve some batik. They can use anilines for dyeing or research on sustainable ways of dyeing.
  5. With patches embroidery, some are applied with the iron others have to be sewn, but it is a simple way to give life and attitude to any garment.
  6. The laces, ribbons or lace applied in details in the garment, such as en the cuffs or hems they can give a differential touch to a basic garment.
  • For those who are encouraged, they can completely transform the garments just by cutting them, for example:
  1. A long loose dress, you can cut it and transform it into two pieces, a top and a skirt.
  2. They can take a men's shirt and transform it into a dress, a blouse, or even a skirt.
  3. Or something simpler for those who do not dare to something very complex. They can grab a basic men's or women's T-shirt and try cutting it out. Take off the sleeves, shorten the length, etc.

All the listed proposals are not very complex, those of completely transforming the garment are the most risky, but not impossible, only trust is required.

I propose that you encourage yourself, try, experiment and put your creativity in motion.

With information from:

Video: Environmental artist Bryant Holsenbeck. Salvage Upcycle Show #9 (July 2022).


  1. Machar

    Surely. I agree with all of the above-said.

  2. Meshakar

    In my opinion, someone got stuck here

  3. Doubei

    Bravo, this very good idea will come in handy.

  4. Oya

    I liked your blog, especially the design

  5. Kannan

    Quite right! Idea good, it agree with you.

  6. Vogar

    Funny blog :)

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