What is Upcycling?

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We all know how to reduce, reuse and recycle; the three “r’s” we learned by heart to reduce post-user consumption.

In the promotional products industry, we often brainstorm how we can increase the longevity of a product in hopes of reducing its possibility of ending up in a landfill.

While recycling is a great way to reduce landfill waste, our industry can take a look into a new form of revamping post-consumer products. Today, I invite you to shift your mindset to a new set of “r’s we can add to our list: Reimagine and Repurpose, or as many of you know it as, upcycling!

What is Upcycling?
Upcycling is known as reusing (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.

Source: Good Housekeeping

For example, this person took white window shutters and transformed them into a beautiful colorful cabinet, great for entertaining. Source: Good Housekeeping

How Does That Relate to the Promotional Products Industry?

When I’m in a store, and I see a really unique product made with 100% recycled plastic bottles, the more likely I am to pick it up. I’ve seen all types of products like reusable tumblers, tote bags, backpacks, etc.

In an event or giveaway setting, having promo that is made from post-consumer products can elevate your client’s conversations. Instead of a customer picking up their promo item and walking away, they can talk about the product, where it came from, and how it was made.

Having upcycled products is another way for your clients to get their products to stand out from their competitors. By having upcycled products, they invite their customers to take more time with the product and observe the details.

Let’s take a glance at a few upcycled promotional items to get your idea generation for your clients started!

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1) A Backpack Made Out of Bike Tubes
Yes, you read that right, it’s made from bike tubes! Upcycled messenger bags are stylish, functional, durable, and sustainable. This item is made from repurposed bike tubes so you literally help turn waste into wonder!

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2) 1-Sided Vinyl Album Cover Display Stand
These album cover display stands are created from authentic vintage vinyl records and are perfect for bars, restaurants, hotels, and offices! Designed to display a vinyl record album cover, this could also be used to display signage, menus, magazines, mail, documents, and more!

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3) Water Bottle- Made from rPET
This water bottle would be great for any fitness or wellness promotion! By definition, rPET is short for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, which refers to any PET material that comes from a recycled source rather than the original, unprocessed petrochemical feedstock. Source: MatMatch

How to Find More Products in SAGE Online
To locate more upcycled products in SAGE Online for your clients, first open the product search tab. Next, type in the keyword, “upcycling” in the keyword search. Then, start your search, it’s that simple!

There are many ways we can help reduce our carbon footprint, and upcycling existing materials is a great option. When coming up with your next product pitch, include some of these really cool upcycled products for your clients to choose from!

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