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Building sustainability awareness and action on our campus community and beyond.
Did you know?
Upcycling is the creative transformation of turning waste materials or unwanted products into new products. The term upcycling is relatively new, it was coined in 1994 by Reiner Pilz who stated, "what we need is upcycling where old products are given more value not less."
Circular methods such as reusing, upcycling, and repurposing shifts away from linear thinking (take, make, and dispose) reducing the demand for new materials and products. It’s a great way to be conscious of our waste by reducing our impact on the environment.
How to get started

Let's rethink our waste and give it a second life. Upcycling is all about being as creative as possible. It's reusing an item to make it new and improved through painting, repairing, adding new upholstery, etc. 

Here are a few ideas to get inspired to start a project of your own.

  1. Glass and plastic jars are infinitely useful. Reuse glass jars to make a DIY herb garden and more!

Mason jars repurposed for an indoor herb garden

2. Cut plastic bags into smaller pieces to make "plarn", plastic yarn, for crocheting. Make your own plarn grocery tote bag.

3. Learn the art of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery by repairing fractures in powder gold lacquer. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object's history, which adds to its beauty.

In the time of COVID-19…
The pandemic has had tremendous impacts on the waste sector. It's important to be conscious of our waste and reduce our environmental impacts as much as possible. Upcycling supports the idea of "cradle to cradle," the eradication of the idea of waste. It promotes sustainable innovation and can provide a fun and creative activity, meanwhile preserving our precious resources.

Next time you think of throwing an item out, think of innovative ways to give it a second life!

Curious to learn more?
  • Recycling company, Terracycle, collects post-consumer waste which they then upcycle into new, usable goods. Terracycle provides upcycling projects on their website here!
  • The Ottawa Tool Library hosts repair cafes which are "free, community-led events where volunteer Fixers and Menders assist visitors with repairing broken household items, including small appliances, textiles, electronics, furniture, and more!"
  • Don't have time to DIY? Re4m is an Ottawa company that reclaims and rescues materials to turn it into new products.
  • Read more weekly tips on our website!
This July (and beyond!), join the Plastic-Free movement and choose to refuse single-use plastics. 
Let us know how you did! Share your stories and photos of how you or your home is avoiding the use of single-use plastic by emailing us at sustainability@carleton.ca or tag us on social media!
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