Upcycling: How Recycling and Reuse can be made bigger and better

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year to raise awareness about the environment.

2015’s theme was ’Sustainable Consumption’ - which brings to mind the practice of upcycling - the act of adding value and re-purposing items that would otherwise be binned.

Upcycling Level 1: Fun DIY craft projects at home
Running a quick Pinterest search would turn up plenty of fun and easy craft ideas which allow people to assign beautiful and creative new purposes for materials e.g. glass bottles -

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Upcycling Level 2: Supporting designers who craft sustainably - and beautifully.
We've also come across creative product designers who practiced sustainable design, and converted it into beautiful ornaments in people's homes.

Allison Patrick - a New York based architect-turned-lighting designer converts pages from old books into beautiful lamps:

Credit: Zipper 8

Credit: Zipper 8

Closer to home, we have Dennis Lau from AEIOU who has converted old kettles into lamp, and was featured in Channel News Asia last year:

Upcycling Level 3: Supporting businesses and the community - for social good

While the upcycling idea is great for craft activities and design for our homes, what if a sustainable circular ecosystem was built - and actual dollar value was created?

What if businesses collaborated, scaled the impact... and were able to help causes and people in need?

EcoBank - a collaboration fronted by City Developments Limited (CDL) and Eco-Business - is a great example of a model showcasing that with the right partnerships, better can be built together.

Launched on Boxing Day 2015 (the day after Christmas), pre-loved books, toys and clothes collected over a 2-week drive, and sold at a 2-day bazaar saw the initiative exceeding expectations and reaching a $47,776 collected - pledged towards the Singapore Council of Women Organizations  (SCWO).

Source: Eco-Business

Source: Eco-Business

EcoBank enables consumers to reduce their waste footprint and contribute to a good cause. Our traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ model (of consumption) needs to change to a circular one in which resources are circulated back to the economy and used for as long as possible.

EcoBank enables this, and combines it with a social cause.
— Jessica Cheam, founder and editor of Eco-Business

A challenge remains - how can brands leverage good corporate citizenship practices and be profitable for the long-term, if they're fronting a cause on their own?

There's more that can and should be done - collaboratively.