Upcycling seems to be the latest trend in the green industry. A fresh alternative to our mostly disposable culture, upcycling may be in the spotlight, but it is far from new. I have been loving all of the innovative upcycled products flooding the market. Part of buying locally made products means being eco-conscious, so I am always looking for ways to reduce my environmental impact. But what does upcycling really mean, and how is it different than recycling? I did some research to uncover the facts and find some awesome upcycled goods made in USA, and places to find them!
What is Upcycling?
Upcycle Magazine, a publication devoted to the practice, defines upcylcing as ” taking an item that is no longer needed or wanted and giving it new life as something that is either useful or creative.” In contrast to recycling, which uses to energy to convert one product into a new one, upcycling is a creative process used to find new uses for existing items or waste products. Almost anything can be upcycled, with glass, metal, paper and plastic products being most commonly utilized.
Upcycling is beneficial because it protects the environment, reducing waste and using less energy than creating a new product. Upcycled goods make great gifts because their handcrafted nature makes each a one of a kind creation. If the product is also locally made, you have the equation for a perfectly green product.
There are many innovative companies and artisans alike producing wonderful, unique upcycled goods, but anyone can upcycle. Simple projects like fashioning an old shirt into a skirt, configuring a used glass jar into a soap dispenser and decorating empty bottles for use as vases are all easy ways you can upcycle and go green at home. Check out the 101 Green Handmade Gift Tutorials from Everything Etsy for lots more ideas for upcycling projects.
Upcycled Products Made in USA
The Wine Bottle Wind Chime consists of reclaimed wine bottles of green, gold, brown and blue. Handmade in USA. $67.99.
Rectangular sloped bowl made from reclaimed washers. Handmade in USA. $90.
Made entirely of discarded men’s suits and ties, the front pocket is actually an exterior suit pocket. Made in USA. $39.
Bracelet hand-crafted from a vintage coffee can. Handmade in USA, $35.
Made from reclaimed denim, already broken in for a soft, comfy feel. Made in USA. $49.90
Guitar String Ring
Made from guitar strings, twisted into bows and held together with the ball end of a guitar string. Handmade in California. $20.
Handmade from the top of a retired wine barrel, features hand-forged steel handles and the stamp of its original cooperage. Handmade in Texas. $140.
Hanging traffic light bird feeder made from an upcycled traffic light lens, and a glass insulator. Made in USA, $50.
The Opossum Sculpture is created from a propane cylinder, hangs upon most hooks or tree branches using his tail. Handmade in USA. $54.99
Where to Buy Upcycled Goods Made in USA
Hipcycle – exclusivley upcycled items. Product materials have country of origin listed.
Uncommon Goods - unique gifts, many made in USA, mostly handmade.
Best American Arts – handmade arts and crafts, all made in USA.
Modern Artisans – handcrafted housewares and gifts, all made in USA.
Re-useit – recycled products, made in USA.
Counterevolution - furniture from wood reclaimed from bowling alleys, handcrafted in USA.
What are your favorite upcycled products? Where have you found them? Have you made any upcycled projects yourself?