What does Reuse, recycling, up-cycling & down-cycling mean?! We all hear these terms bandied about in the press constantly, and the government have convinced the majority of the public the buck stops with us, the most important thing we can do as a nation is recycle. We are all drowning in empty tins, cans and milk containers, making sure we peel the wrappers off our tins and wash them out for the fortnightly collection. The government have gone into over drive pushing household recycling, so it stands to reason you believe recycling is the best way we can help stop global warming and save the environment… wrong.
Although every little helps, so don’t stop… but there is something much more effective against pollution you could & should all be doing. In fact reuse is the best way to combat the massive ecological impact human beings are having on the planet. For instance; imagine you are going to purchase a chest of draws, you can either buy a brand new item or a second hand one. If you buy second hand, say from a reuse centre, charity shop or boot sale you are not creating the use of any more carbon. Everything we manufacture has embodied carbon, you’ve all heard of your carbon foot print, well this is how it is worked out for each item we use: Embodied carbon is defined as the amount of energy (fuels/power, materials, human resources etc) that was used in the manufacture of any product, from the point of extraction and refining materials, transportation, and disposal / re-purposing of it.
Basically put it is the total amount of energy necessary for an entire product lifecycle. By reusing an item of furniture (or anything for that matter) you stop the need for re-manufacture of that particular item and save the carbon that would have been used to make a new one. The reason that reuse is better at combating pollution and more environmentally friendly than recycling is because; when an item is recycled it is turned into something else, for instance a piece of wooden furniture is chipped to make kitchen worktops.
Although the raw material is being used again it is going through a process which uses more carbon to be made into the new useable item. It is much more ecologically sound to use the item in its original form than using more energy to turn it into something else. Most recycling is actually down-cycling, which is the process of converting unwanted or waste materials into new materials or products of lesser quality and reduced functionality. Upcycling on the other hand is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. It is also the term I use most often for my refurbishment of old & unwanted furniture when I bring it back to life with a lick of paint and reupholster the fabric as you can see from my other blog posts! There are furniture reuse centres all over the UK, I’m sure there are boot sales and reclamation yards near most of you and you can definitely all access internet auction sites where ever you are!
So I set you a challenge Britain, next time you feel the urge to splurge on a piece of new furniture invest a little time in looking for that item second hand, I guarantee you, you will be surprised what you find and even more surprised at the cash saving… plus you have just saved a little piece of our planet!
What could be better?! Please get in touch with your finds too xx