With so many products and services out there with various labels, certifications and terms, it is sometimes hard to distinguish one from another. Upcycling and recycling are often used interchangeably.
At Matr Boomie we upcycle. Upcycling is a process of taking something that could potentially end up in a landfill and reusing it in a creative way to give it a new lease of life. For example, our traditional sari products are made from old, discarded saris. The sari is a traditional dress in India consisting of meters of fabric worn by wrapping and securing around the body. Our designers work in collaboration with artisan makers in India to design and create unique ways to repurpose this fabric to create bags, accessories, gift packaging and home decor. The sari fabric is still the original textile; it has just been transformed into something different.
Some other ways we upcycle around the home includes reusing containers for storage around the house, using jars to propagate plants, display flowers or making body scrubs or spice blends to give as gifts. The list is endless! You just need to get the creative juices flowing.
We also use the practice of recycling in our paper goods production. Recycling involves taking a product and breaking it down and then creating a new product from the broken down material. As you can imagine this process requires more manpower and energy than upcycling, due to the extra step/s required in breaking down the original product. Our 100% tree free paper uses this process, which helps to keep waste from the textile industry from ending up in landfills. These discarded cotton scraps are collected and artisan makers break them down into fibers using a traditional wheel press and soaked overnight. The pulp is strained, pressed into pages and hung to dry. The entire process is tree-free, non-toxic, and conserves and filters water for reuse in irrigation. Due to this traditional method and circular process it is still a very sustainable method of manufacturing. The paper is then used in final products such as journals, notecards and gift wrap.
We often recycle at home filling our containers which keeps many empties from ending up in landfills. It is a good practice, however it does take much more energy to break existing products down. So, it is a good idea to consider ways you might be able to upcycle a product prior to heading to that recycling bin. Consider asking people you know if they have a use for items or take them to a local thrift store. As the saying goes, “one man's trash is another man’s treasure”
A proactive approach when you are next making a shopping list and out shopping is to think about ways to move towards zero-packaging for personal care and cleaning products, buying bulk goods and skipping the produce bags or replacing them with reusable options similar to shopping bags.