Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring and Upcycling

The term recycling has been refined into two categories – upcycling and recycling. Reiner Pilz coined the term ‘upcyling’ in 1994. Upcycling is when a disused or abandoned material is taken and made into something of greater value than the previous use of the material. In contrast, recycling is when a material is collected en mass and subjected to industrial processes to make something of a lower value. An example of upcycling is when you take an old wetsuit and use it to make a case for a laptop computer. People in the developing world have been upcycling for years out of economic necessity. It is, however, a fairly new idea to consumer culture in the West.

The West since the 1980s has focused on recycling waste. Typically, aluminum tins, old newspapers etc. are collected in large amounts and subjected to an industrial recycling process that makes sheets of aluminum or recycled paper for example. The problem with recycling in general is that it requires a big input of machinery to set up and recycling normally only makes economic sense if it is done on a large scale either by a big company or a local government.

Upcycling usually requires less technological input and can be done economically on a much smaller scale. It can be done by both individuals and small companies. As a result upcycling is often a grass roots enterprise.

When disused or abandoned hardwoods are taken from building skips, house waste, park waste, old outhouses, broken fencing or dilapidated barns the hardwood can be turned into reclaimed hardwood flooring that has a much greater value. Reclaimed hardwood flooring is a type of upcycling.

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Tags:upcycling, recyling, reclaimed hardwood flooring, value

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