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Upcycling 101: using second-hand materials to protect the environment

Updated: Jan 31

Upcycling is at the core of what we do at 1of1. It allows us to protect the environment, as well as crafting truly unique pieces you won’t find anywhere else.

As humanity produces more and more waste, much of what we throw away is far from being destroyed or unusable. Especially when it comes to clothing, pieces in nearly perfect condition are being thrown away. Here’s where upcycling comes in – it takes what would otherwise be wasted and turns it into something new.

How does upcycling work?

The upcycling method can be used for just about any materials – from turning old pickle jars into fairy light lanterns to creating a new piece of clothing from an existing one. However, what all of these have in common is the transformation of a material that already exists, rather than using a new one.

You can give upcycling a try yourself or entrust it to one of our experienced upcycling designers – or even order a custom piece based on your specifications and ideas. Either way, upcycling allows for an unmatched way to express creativity.

The benefits of upcycling

The very nature of upcycling helps prevent materials from going to landfill by giving them a new life. On average, every one of us throws away 70 pounds of clothing every year – 95% of which could be reused or upcycled. By shopping upcycled or upcycling materials by yourself, you can help prevent so much usable clothing from being thrown away!

When you buy upcycled items (whether from 1of1 or a different upcycling store) or craft them yourself, you are also enriching your wardrobe with an item nobody else has. In a world of fast fashion, where garments are mass-manufactured in thousands, this is especially valuable for anyone who wants to stand out of the crowd.

Upcycling also encourages creative expression and imagination you wouldn’t get when using new materials. Because you or the designer are restricted by the current shape or form of the material, the design process is pushing creative boundaries.

Misconceptions about upcycling

One common misconception about upcycled items is that they’re somehow of lower quality than new ones. In reality, the quality of the upcycled item depends on the quality of the material you’re using.

Usually, if the material is well-made and has lasted through previous wear, it has stood the test of time. Such materials are likely of much higher quality than some newer items, which haven’t been tested in this way. This applies especially to clothing, which is now often made to be as cheap as possible while compromising quality.

If you haven’t yet given upcycling a try, now’s the perfect time to give it a try yourself or support businesses using the concept. If you’d prefer the latter, browse the 1of1 collection to see if anything catches you eye!

By Marko Risztiy

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