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Upcycling: making more with less

We have all heard the term and probably we´ve also seen it multiple times, but can we tell exactly what it is? UPCYCLING is the act of entering waste as an input in a productive system and using it as a base material for creating a manufactured item of higher value.

Source- 100 reuse patchwork. Recuperado de

The enormous trail of pollution that the fashion industry leaves behind every step is well known, with its´ unsustainable water and carbon footprint, the toxicity levels that it carries and the huge amounts of waste material, the search for some solutions is not questioned. Upcycling then comes as a solution for waste reduction management and product lifetime optimization.

Though the practice is not new (as we are all familiar with patches using to repair some old outworn denim knees), the term has been reclaim by the sustainable fashion movement and it has shifted from a disliked idea, that was often linked to the lack of resources to acquire new clothes, to this new concept related to originality and self-styling. Upcycling is fun, cool and most important, it's better for the environment.

Besides the waste management advantage, there's a side of upcycling that could incur in the integration of the social aspect of sustainability to the equation, as it needs the participation of artisans to put the creative practices and processes in motion. So this alternative way of production, which enriches the local community and environment, seems to be a good option when rethinking the way we manufacture and administrate our wastes.

Now It's time to think about how to add this as a new practice to compensate for the waste that comes as a byproduct of the current fashion system?

The amazing thing about upcycling is that it not only applies to fashion, we can upcycle anything, anywhere, anytime. So, If you are a direct consumer you can take action by:

  • Scanning your closet and identifying potential material you could use to a DIY project or donate to centres specialized in upcycling.

  • Be bold. You might not know a lot about fashion or sewing but… You can be brave enough to try out some YouTube guidance.

  • Communities and artisans can help a lot. Maybe it's your grandma or maybe it's a Facebook group, talking with someone who knows a little bit more can be a lot of help.

  • Let your mind explore the possibilities. The beauty of upcycling is the creativity that comes with it, enjoy the process!!! let the roots of your style grow as you help the


Koch, K. (2019). Clothing upcycling, textile waste and the ethics of the global fashion industry. ZoneModa Journal, 9(2), 173-184.

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