Thursday, 6 March 2014

What does it mean to recycle, upcycle and repurpose?

On the Down to Earth simple living forums there is a repurposing swap under way. When the swap was announced there were a few questions as to whether it included recycling and upcycling? This led me to look further into what exactly these terms meant.


So I asked Mr.Google what he thought and according to Dishfunctional Designs:
Recycling means using something again and the value remains unchanged. 
Repurposing means using an article again but with a new purpose.
Upcycling means to use again with a new purpose and with greater value than its original state.
Downcycling is when items are turned into new items of a lesser quality than their original state.
It can all get a bit technical but to my simple brain it just means using something again! Anyway, as usual I agonised about what to make for my swap item so spent quite some time (too much) looking on Pinterest for ideas and saw some really lovely items on there including the ruffled lace apron in the photo above which was made from an old pair of jeans. There is a tutorial included on the website in the link.
I also liked these colourful pincushions made from quilt pieces and there are simple instructions on the website linked to as well. Eventually I decided on what I was going to make after procrastinating for quite some time.
Then while checking out one of our many Op Shops one day I found this bag which was similar to bags made from denim jeans with the zipper and pockets on the front of the bag. There was so much detail on it and it just took my fancy as it reminded me of the 1970s so I bought it intending to wash it and fix it up to use eventually.

 Then I thought that my swap partner would probably really love the bag so I decide to freshen it up and give it new life.
The original scarf was worn out so I sewed on a new one, replaced the faded strap with a new one and changed the buttons at the side of the bag.

There is a very pretty vintage hanky sewn on one of the pockets ...
 well as lots of appliqued bits and pieces.... 

....and embroidery all over the bag.
I think my swap partner liked her swap item when it arrived and I certainly liked hers as she sent me...

...a bag made from a felted sweater, a lovely bookmark with lace trimming and a lace bag made from  curtain fabric.
 This is the inside of the bag. Everything was beautifully sewn and much appreciated. Considering she still has three little ones at home she has done an amazing job don't you think?

I am still a little confused though about the difference between recycling, repurposing and upcycling and reused seems a much simpler term to me! :-)



  1. Yes I sure did love your bag & so nice to read about it here. I think re-purposed items have so much more character & are all made with love

  2. Sarah, you certainly do sew very well and do lovely work.

  3. You are both very talented and so thoughtful. Love the bags, you will inspire me to get a sewing machine one day :)

  4. Words! Reminds me of taking my grandma with me to a couple of antique shops a few years back, she said "call em what you want it's just all the old stuff I threw out to get new"!
    Love the bags - both of them, I have wanted to try felting and I am intrigued by your use of vintage hankies (I have a few of them wanting to be used) this is a great idea!


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