Upcycled furniture is becoming a well known term in the twenty-first century. From January 2010 until 2013 the word ‘upcycled’ was used on Etsy and Pinterest more than quarter of a million times. That figure has consistently risen by a few hundred percent every year since then.
For those who feel the world is producing far too much waste and chewing through resources like a one hundred metre caterpillar on a lettuce leaf, upcycled furniture offers up another way to balance the books… so to speak!
What is the difference between recycled and upcycled?
When items are recycled they are broken down and the materials that made them recovered (glass, paper, plastic etc). The recovered materials are then made into another object, although generally, the quality of the material will usually be a tad lower.
Nevertheless, recycling can be used for many items and the impact on the environment is a lot less than producing things from scratch. Upcycling is very different in that the items are not broken down at all. Instead, they are reinvented. The main thing recycling and upcycling has in common is that they are both positive for the environment.
Upcycled furniture – Meeting demand
While still in its infancy, it is a fact that upcycled furniture and products are becoming more and more mainstream worldwide. Even in less developed countries people are realising the importance of producing more environmentally friendly products. However, the main change has come around because manufacturers understand that upcycling is in fact profitable and the products they make are in demand.
Where it all began
Upcycled furniture is taking off across the UK and Europe as well as America. It actually originated in Germany during the early nineties. The primary ‘point’ of upcycling is to take something that is considered as junk and improve it aesthetically / creatively. Putting it simply, improve it and/or make it more interesting as well as useful. In a way, it is an art form and some might argue very similar to the way artists like Picasso would use old cardboard and paper to create works of art. Indeed, much of the upcycled furniture available today is incredibly creative and artistic.
Waste not want not
Today upcycled furniture is estimated (unofficially) to represent around one third of the UK’s three billion craft industry. According to UK estimates, approximately ten million pieces of furniture are sent to the tips every year. That is a lot of waste! Not everything is good enough to be upcycled, usually because it was made from short-lived materials in the first place like veneers and chipboard. Even so, a very large percentage of that could be upcycled.
The bottom line is that it is in everybody’s interest worldwide to stop this throwaway, disposable approach that is chewing through our natural resources and destroying our air supply. Upcycled furniture is one of the most creative and uncomplicated ways we can actually do that – For those who enjoy the creative and actually care about the environment, upcycled furniture is simply put, quite perfect!