|Chair with Shweshwe fabric|
There are so many terms being bandied about, and there isn’t consensus as to where the boundaries lie between them. I don’t think it matters that much, as long as we’re making an effort to chuck less stuff away and to reuse things as much as possible.
But last night, I participated in a tweetchat in which someone was definitely spoiling for a fight on the subject. So this is my take on what all the various words mean. You might have a different view. That’s okay. We can still be friends.
The tweetchat was about upcycled items and the theme was colour. A few of us posted pictures of things we had worked on recently. One person wasn’t convinced that they all qualified as upcycled. Some of them had just been restored. She was probably right. For example, this chair, with which I am insufferably pleased, is hardly upcycled. It started as a chair and ended up as a chair, albeit with a new seat pad, new coat of paint and new fabric on the back and the seat. But neither did I restore it. If I had done that, I would have made it look as it did when it left the factory (kind of like ‘restore factory settings’). So I would say I gave it a makeover.
On the other hand, this hanging rail I made out of a vintage potato crate, in my mind, qualifies as upcycled. It started out as one thing, and ended up as a another.
When I take my scrap metal to the recycling plant, and it is melted down to make school chairs or fighter planes. That’s what I would think of as recycling.
And when someone gives an item away to someone else. That’s freecycling.
I will tell you something for nothing, though – freecycling can be a bit hit and miss. People have widely differing views on what constitutes a quality item. Just yesterday, I went to collect a small unit that the man told me was ‘solid’. What he meant was, it was heavy. It was made of chipboard and metal and was in pretty rough shape. It went for recycling.
On the flip side, today, I picked up a small chest of drawers for the princely sum of £5. It was a vintage Stag piece. Possibly 1930s, I have to do a bit more research. It has been painted at some point, and the paint is chipped. But I will restore it…mostly, and maybe throw in a bit of a makeover, just for good measure. More of that anon.