Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recycled vs Upcycled... What's the Difference?

The first time I heard the term "Upcycled", I thought someone was just trying to put an Upscale moniker on recycled crafts. But upon further investigation, I've found that it is much more than mere marketing semantics.

The term upcycling was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things." According to Wikipedia, "Upcycling is a component of sustainability in which waste materials are used to provide new products. It is generally a reinvestment in the environment. "Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value." This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials."

Then I realized that my soy candles are ALL Upcycled. If you buy a vintage China teacup and use it as a China teacup, that's recycling. But if I hand-pour scented soy wax into a recycled China teacup, I am "Upcycling", because I am providing a new product with a different, and hopefully better, purpose. And that's what I love most about making my soy candles.

I love finding a discarded vintage treasure at the local hospital thrift shop and "feeling" what color and fragrance belong in it. I adore making candles out of non-traditional containers, like soap dishes, tooth pick holders and candy dishes. And I treasure giving new life and value to something that is headed for the land fill. Yes, I admit it, I've found many a treasure on the curb the day after a Yard Sale. And I'm damn proud of it!

So this is my way of "taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value".... my small effort at "reinvestment in the environment". And I now proudly claim that my soy candles are Upcycled. You can view more of my Upcycled Soy Candles in Unique vintage containers at ,, or