We live in a consumer society in which aspects such as the environment or animals have suffered or are neglected for many years. For some time now, we and our fellow human beings have been rethinking and the intrinsic urge for more sustainability in everyday life and a respectful treatment of nature is increasing.
The word “recycling” has played a role here for several decades, while many people cannot yet imagine much of the newer term “upcycling”. In this article you will find out what is meant by “upcycling”, how it differs from “recycling” and why we at BE THE CHANGE attach great importance to sustainable packaging and resource-saving product cycles.
What is upcycling?
In short, the term “upcycling” means the reuse of existing materials or objects from which you create something new by not throwing them away, but reusing them.
A particularly well-known example of “upcycling” in recent years is the use of Euro pallets for bed frames or outdoor seating.
If you use the coffee grounds to make a cosmetic peeling, that is also upcycling.
The goal of upcycling is to limit your own consumption and thereby protect the environment. If we upcycle more, we throw away less and buy less “new” in the long term.
But where exactly is the difference to recycling?
How is upcycling different from recycling?
When recycling, materials and objects are usually broken down into their original components, such as when recycling aluminum. In special waste facilities, aluminum is melted back to its original form and used again as aluminum in packaging or for other purposes.
When upcycling, materials or objects are used as they are. Upcycling results in a qualitative upgrade or a repurposing of the object/material. The energy costs for upcycling are often significantly lower than for recycling, which is why upcycling contributes significantly to climate protection and is sometimes viewed as a “greener” variant of recycling.
Putting resources back into the value chain are common principles of recycling and upcycling.
Commercial companies now also want to use the principle of upcycling to create a new generation of products that require fewer new raw materials in production and can be manufactured with less energy consumption. This not only serves the consumer-driven demand for sustainable products, but can even increase companies' margins under certain circumstances.
Why is upcycling important
A look at nature and our environment shows us why environmentally friendly approaches such as upcycling are so important:
Our consumer behavior and today's throwaway society have a massive impact on our environment and have an impact on it. Large economic companies want to increase/serve demand and access resources without being sufficiently regulated.
Because: There is a lot of money involved. The necessary resources are often obtained from developing or third world countries because environmental authorities there can be more easily corrupted.
We see mountains of garbage in African countries where our old refrigerators, discarded cars, last season's smartphones and countless discount clothing are piled up.
More than 50% of the South American rainforest has been cut down since 1950, causing animal species to become extinct because we have taken away their habitat. And why all this? Mostly out of greed for profit and our greed for consumption.
In Western countries, clothing and furniture are offered to consumers at cheap prices, which is why the cheap goods are often replaced with the next cheaper piece of furniture or clothing after a short time. This describes our throwaway society.
Another particularly big culprit in the discussion about environmental protection and the need for upcycling is plastic.
Plastic – the downfall of our time
There are currently an inestimable number of macro and micro plastics in our oceans. Plastic waste washes up on almost all beaches in our world.
In addition, the plastics are chemically very stable. This means that plastic is difficult and very slow to degrade. Plastics persist in the oceans and on land for a long time. These unnatural materials and foreign bodies kill countless animals every year.
The plastic-heavy consumption of our throwaway society kills around 135,000 marine mammals and an estimated 1 million seabirds every year - straws in the nostrils of turtles, plastic residue in the stomachs of birds and plastic rings that dig painfully into the necks of seals are just a few cruel examples.
Once a blessing, plastic has now become a challenge as carelessly thrown away waste. The correct and careful handling of plastic would make a decisive contribution to the solution. Inventiveness is required, on the one hand to counteract (micro) plastic waste and on the other hand to innovate alternatives.
After us the flood? – Resources are finite
Another important aspect why upcycling should be done is to look at our resources. The United Nations has predicted that we may exceed 8 billion in world population by November of this year (2022) - we humans are not decreasing and need resources to survive.
Not all of the resources we take from nature grow back or regenerate quickly enough to be available to generations after us.
These resources include, for example, fresh water, coal, copper, petroleum, lithium and nickel.
The latter in particular are important resources for the batteries of many green technologies.
For this reason, we should use the resources available to us consciously and in a future-oriented manner and give nature the chance to regenerate from our demands and interventions.
Overfishing is a good example:
If a certain area of the sea is overfished so that people can eat as much fish as they want, in the long term there will no longer be enough fish in the sea to reproduce - the fishermen's next catches will be smaller or even unprofitable. The fishermen did not use the resource “fish” sustainably.
The same principle applies to the deforestation of forests and the over-fertilization of soil. There are numerous other examples from agriculture and livestock farming, as well as modern technology companies that do not operate in a resource-conserving and sustainable manner.
Solutions such as regenerative agriculture will play a groundbreaking role in the future. There are viable paths that lead to the benefit of all and can work equally well for the global population and the environment, as well as bring economic added value.
How does BE THE CHANGE support the environment?
Our earth is home to wondrous and multifaceted life - we humans are a part of it and should treat it and its resources with respect and reverence.
We use biodegradable packaging and completely avoid plastic in order not to pollute our environment and its living beings. In this way, resources and the natural and healthy cycle of life are protected and preserved. Our packaging, such as our vitamins , is filled into Miron glass containers that can not only be refilled, but also upcycled.
The regenerative agriculture that we promote allows the soil and nature to recover. We consciously work with farmers who operate organically, sustainably and with animal welfare in mind.
In addition, with our own innovative projects, such as our Swiss Wow Cow, we also generate our own food sources that set new, sustainable standards internationally.
For us, sustainability means that our food is healthy and nutritious in the long term and that we not only preserve nature, but also regenerate it. To do this, we need new ways, such as upcycling, which are being paved step by step in collaboration with farmers in long-term partnerships.
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