As I look forward to the launch of Hipcycle's super fun online store on October 1st, I've started thinking about the difference of buying secondhand versus buying upcycled.

Thrift Shop

Thrift

We all know about buying secondhand -- thrift shops, yard sales, consignment stores, and online auction sites. Personally, the vast majority of what I own is secondhand, whether I purchased it or it was given to me by a friend or family member. Most of my wardrobe is second hand. Granted, I’m not on the cutting edge of fashion, but I look pretty stinking good (when I want to), I’m comfy in my clothes, and I save tons of money. Besides, I’m clear-headed enough to realize that monstrosity of a hat that is in vogue now will likely be relegated to the landfill within a year or two because the thrift store couldn’t even give it away! (Though it could have been upcycled!)

For most of the things in my house, a visitor wouldn’t have a clue that it was previously owned. Why add to our overflowing landfills when I can obtain decorations, furniture, and just about whatever else I need secondhand? Returning the favor to family and friends is just part of the fun.

Now that I’ve shared my personal enjoyment of secondhand items, let’s move on to what has become my new passion: upcycling! In a nutshell, upcycling is taking something of little to no value and converting it into something valuable. Taking books that are falling apart and making them into flowers, adding buttons to old push pins, and making coasters out of old magazines are all examples of upcycling. Upcycled items really add to the character of a house, helping make it a home.

Mosaic Mirror

Yep,

Since upcycling starts with something that is already present -- magazines, toilet paper tubes, a flat tire, etc. -- it incorporates the idea of secondhand goodness into it as well. However, instead of sending these items to the landfill, upcycling reincarnates them into something new and super cool.

So, when you buy upcycled, you’re actually buying secondhand as well -- but since most of the upcycled materials would have ended up in the dump, it’s more environmentally conscious than buying secondhand in the first place. Even better, if you buy an upcycled vase and change your decor, you can upcycle it again by painting it a different color, smashing it and making a glass mosaic... the sky’s the limit! (Just don’t send it to a landfill!)