DIY Home Garden


Upcycled vs Recycled

The upcycling versus recycling debate is long and ongoing. Staunch supporters of each argue their benefits. Now, you might love debates. At the moment, you might be excited to give your two cents to this topic. But, err… Sorry to disappoint you.

Today, we won’t promote which one is better than the other. Rather, it’s for those who have been wondering exactly what the difference is between these two similar-sounding eco-friendly activities.

upcycled chair
My upcycled chair is getting a second chance at a new life–as a wreath holder. What do y’all think?

Yes, both upcycling and recycling are awesome concepts. Both help our environment and our lives in general. They prevent pollution and reduce wastage and the need for landfills.

Furthermore, they save energy, encourage conservation, and reduce the effect of global warming. It does the latter by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Both have similar benefits to the environment and humanity. The only difference is in their means and end results.


To upcycle turns an old item into something else entirely. For an upcycled item, its pre-upcycling purpose is usually way different from its post-upcycled purpose. For example, I wrote an article on vertical gardening where used plastic bottles could be upcycled into cool planters for tomatoes and other vegetables. From a drinking container to a comfy vessel for your tomatoes……now that’s upcycling.

creamer bottles

Plastic water or soda bottles can also be upcycled into inverted planters or handy sprinklers for your garden. 

You can upcycle Mason jars, paper, or plastic cups into cool stationary organizers. Deborah even shows you how to chalk paint a mason jar and add more style to a normally simple upcycled container.


We’ve got you covered if you’re interested in more serious DIY upcycling projects. Check out these potential ladder-upcycling projects or convert that old ladder to a chic towel rack with this great how-to guide.

My favorite is the various upcycling ideas one can implement with that old headboard you are very sentimental about. From towel racks to kitchen cabinets or welcome signs, your soon-to-be-discarded headboard can become a critical piece in your life once again.


Where upcycling tends to be radical and embrace new ideas, recycling is more staid and old-fashioned. However, its less-than-radical approach doesn’t make recycling less important than upcycling. In fact, it is pretty cool to have an attachment to a household item way past its prime. This is because there is no inclination to change its original function or purpose. Instead of converting it to something else, you can breathe new life into that furniture piece with some touches of paint and a little bit of design and refinishing.

To be honest, no one does recycling like Deborah. Whether it be old desks or not-so-pretty chairs, she has the knack to turn that ugly duckling into a graceful swan.

upcycling desk refinish
Epic Desk Makeover – Before and After. Old Desk to Charming Beauty

With recycling, you don’t have to change the status quo? Deborah shows you how to keep that priceless vintage mirror with this how-to guide on refinishing. 

how to refinish a vintage mirror
How To Refinish A Vintage Mirror (without breaking it!)

Or revamp a worn-out picture frame into this cool earring rack:


So, let me guess. You are probably thinking: “Wow! Both options are so cool. Which do you suggest I go for?'” Anyone, my dear. Anyone that suits your fancy is just fine.

Although some items are better suited to upcycling than recycling, like the plastic bottles mentioned earlier, a vast majority can either be upcycled or recycled depending on your needs, tastes and overall preferences.

So, rather than join the bandwagon arguing about which is better, why don’t you try out both concepts? With these simple upcycling ideas for common household items or this weekend cart recycling project, you would definitely have a lot of fun and the end result would be quite pleasant and rewarding, trust me!

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