The Four Upsides to Upcycling

maker faire

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the repurposing of useless or unwanted items in a new (and often better) way. And to be candid, there is no downside to upcycling – it’s all up! molly mutt was born on the concept of upcycling, and we have the Maker Faire to thank for that.

In the Spring of 2008 we knew that we wanted to develop a dog bed cover that would be long-lasting, attractive, and awesome. The challenge we were having was that unlike human beds with standardized sizes (King. Queen, Full, Twin) there is no such thing in the dog bed world. What one dog bed company called “medium” was a different dimension from what another company was selling. Awesome.

So, off we went to the Maker Faire and there we encountered some really fantastic and creative minds. There were techies and robot makers. Home-grown space travelers and publishers. The common theme at the event was creativity and using, or re-using, items in creative ways! We had found an inspirational never-never land!

Down one aisle were some of the coolest looking clothes we’d ever seen. “This is re-fashioning,” the creator said. “Even after we donate millions of articles of clothing every year to Goodwill and others, Amercians still throw away tons of clothing – textiles make up as much as 7% of our landfills. Our mission is to save some of those textiles, cut them up, and piece together new clothes that might appeal to someone.”

We soon learned that upcycling has four enormous benefits:

  1. Upcycling keeps discarded materials and waste from ever entering the landfill.
  2. Upcycling is even better than recycling: upcycling requires no additional energy or process to transform the article for re-use. This means reduced air pollution, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Upcycling allows you to keep the items you love, breathing new life and usefulness into them.
  4. Upcycling saves our communities’ money, reducing costs associated with recycling and landfill management.

We knew that dogs love to sleep on top of a pile of laundry (who doesn’t?!), but It was at the Maker Faire we realized just how many fabrics everyone has in closets, drawers and garages that are no longer needed or used.

And as we walked away from the re-fashioning booth the idea struck: if we could develop a mesh bag that was durable enough to hold these unused items, we could shape that bag to form the mattress sizes we needed. The mesh would allow everything to be washable without having to be taken out of the cover. The best part is that anyone could do it – we’d save them a lot of money, and their dogs would be thrilled to sleep where they always wanted to be.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that without learning about upcycling and re-fashioning there might not be a molly mutt. In our very small way, we know we’ve made pets happier, and kept lots of textiles from becoming part of the waste stream.

To see some great re-fashioning ideas, check out this Pinterest board

If you love learning about the creative process and interacting with talented folks – you should consider attending one of the Maker Faire events.  Who knows what you could create by attending a Maker Faire and rubbing elbows with really creative and open people! 

And visit Upcycle That to learn more about upcycling.

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