Never mind recycling. That involves breaking stuff down in order to reuse it. Upcycling is the new in thing. It’s when something old and used is used again for a new purpose but in its existing form. Frito-Lay is going all out with this with its Terracycle project.You send them your old chip bags (they’ll pay the postage) and they will turn them into backpacks, messenger bags, lunch boxes, etc. The old bags can be from Lay’s potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips and Cheetos cheese flavored snacks (excuse me, I have to wipe the drool off my keyboard). They’ll also donate $0.02 per bag collected to non-profit organizations of your choice (if you get picked to do this, there is a limit to the number of people who can participate). Frito-Lay says their goal is to “divert more than 5 million bags from landfills in 2009”.
And Terracycle has the same deal going with other companies like those who make Oreos or drink paks. These old cookie wrappers and empty juice paks are then remade into bags and even office products. In the search for new ways to upcycle, Inhabitat recently held a design contest with some pretty interesting examples of upcycling (I love the Book Book Shelf).
Of course, if you have kids, you know they are the original upcyclers. Why, right now, just a cursory glance around the pig sty living room shows me it’s full of crap upcycled things. Like the box from my cellphone that is now a fort for bakugan. An empty tissue box now has two pairs of 3D glasses and some pipe cleaners attached to it so it can be a spaceship for bakugan. And the old shoebox, not the specially designed racks and clips I bought for the purpose, is now the home of all my son’s bakugan. Let’s hope that Terracycle or some smart person at Inhabitat is figuring out how to upcycle bakugan.