Recycling & Upcycling: how it's done and what you can do to support

Recycling plastic is important in the industry as well as in the home. More and more people even want to live without plastic. The facets of recycling and what brands make of it.

Recycling, upcycling live plastic-free

The plastic in the ocean is the ubiquitous face of pollution. It shows many people how lightly we deal with the waste in our lives. The need to minimize one's personal ecological footprint is growing steadily. Many even want to live zero waste and plastic-free. Reducing waste and giving products a new life through recycling or upcycling are becoming more and more part of life's work. Companies are also increasingly taking on this task. The recycling of plastic is just one of many possibilities.

In the waste hierarchy, the first priority is always to avoid waste. Only then reuse, recycling, recovery and finally waste disposal. There are now numerous companies that support this process and through different offers, their customers aware of the conscious use of plastic and other substances.

How does recycling work?

  1. reuse
  2. Recovery / recycling
  3. downcycling
  4. Upcycling

1. reuse

Many products are disposed of even though they are still usable. The first step in sustainable use is reuse. This also includes a longer service life of products. Anyone who takes good care of purchasing decisions and focuses on quality will enjoy it more in the long term. This applies to clothing, home accessories, but also technical devices. Just expose fashion cycles. If something is to be disposed of, then first think about whether it could be donated or used in second-hand stores.

2. Reuse / recycling

If products really can not be used in their original function, they are officially considered waste. That is the basis for the definition of the recycling term. According to the German Recycling Management Act, recycling is "any recovery process that processes waste into products for its original purpose or for other purposes". How well a fabric can be recycled depends on its purity. That is, whether it is for upcycling or downcycling in question.


Image source: Zazi Mode

3. Downcycling

Many materials lose their positive properties in the recycling process and can only be used meaningfully in combination with primary material. The quality decreases compared to the original product. In this case we talk about downcycling. This is especially true for plastic and paper. Recycled paper is therefore often recognized by its rough texture and dark color.

4. Upcycling

However, some recovery methods can also increase the value of a product. There are often unique pieces that give the source material a completely new function. Then one speaks of upcycling. Examples of this are numerous eco-fashion designs that are regenerated from Fabrics arise.

Well-known brands actively promote recycling

It is becoming ever easier for the end user to give his disused products a responsible place. After all, many brand manufacturers are taking back their fashion items or plastic packaging in order to return them to the production cycle. Cosmetic manufacturers such as Lush, Kiehl's or MAC reward their customers even for returned plastic containers.


Image source: Lush

Fashion companies are increasingly specializing in innovative materials made from recycled raw materials. Examples are Econyl® or Tencel. Patagonia, Stella McCartney, Nike, Adidas, Gucci or Ecoalf are just a few companies that have included recycling in their brand promise. The best known example is the Parley shoe from Adidas, which is made of plastic from the ocean.

Recycling as a way of life

Reducing waste and deliberately disposing of waste is one of the best ways to become active in your own household in the interests of the environment. At the same time, it is also liberating to withdraw oneself from the garbage craze and consciously consume goods. Positive side effects are often more order and less spending. There are already many creative approaches that not only enable but also promote recycling and upcycling. And there are more and more.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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