The Upsides for Upcycling
Upcycling, or the act of turning an old product into a “new,” useful product with a fresh use, has a number of advantages in the corporate world as well as in your personal life. All too often, in the business world, things go straight to the landfill instead of being used for other purposes. Employees may occasionally have the option of retrieving items for their own uses, but some businesses forbid even that.
Creative upcycling, however, can offer more opportunities to your company than you might think.
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The Vistatec Employee Showcase
At Vistatec, as part of our corporate social responsibility plan, we ran an internal upcycling event over the summer, encouraging employees to upcycle projects in their own homes (and offering rewards for those who did). We got to see some amazing examples of things that our employees were able to accomplish with items they already had on hand, including many things that might otherwise have gone into a landfill.
One employee, for example, created an entire clock out of upcycled vinyl. Another was able to create a gorgeous keychain out of items found around the house. Still others managed to turn items into beautiful and useful projects, like the employee who turned a set of unused crates into a useful, practical bookshelf.
These projects are just a few of the creative examples of what upcycling can offer for your organization and your employees.
The Upsides of Upcycling
As an organization, you have an opportunity to upcycle every time you bring in new equipment or phase out existing items. Frequently, you will find that you have more uses for your unused materials you think—and it’s not just leaving them sitting around in a storeroom, where they might not prove particularly beneficial to anyone.
1. You’re able to offer considerable environmental benefits
The average person creates around 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day. While some of that waste is in the form of things like single-use coffee cups that you might not be able to easily recycle or upcycle, consider how much your company might be throwing away each year in unused or unwanted items. You might be throwing away things like:
- Office furniture and decor
- Electronic equipment
- Packaging material, including boxes, crates, and other useful items
- Unused materials, including wood, scrap materials, and materials used in daily business
What specific items you throw away may depend on the type of business you conduct and what you do each day. However, many businesses throw away items that can be used for a variety of purposes, and they may not even think about how much waste they’re producing. When you upcycle instead, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact and the amount you’re throwing into a landfill.
2. You show off your overall environmental responsibility
Many businesses have chosen to “go green” in their efforts to reduce their emissions, offer sustainable products, or even create better hiring practices. However, upcycling isn’t common in most businesses— and that makes it a great way to set your business apart.
Did your employees create an amazing piece of artwork out of materials that would otherwise have gone to waste? Have you been able to reuse items that were present in your business in the past: making over bookshelves, transforming shipping crates into end tables, or turning your old, outdated chairs into more comfortable ones? Highlight it! You’ll show off environmental responsibility in a way that not many companies are doing, which can help set you apart.
3. You can encourage creativity in the office
Creativity is a vital skill in many industries. If you want your company to remain innovative, at the top of the industry, you need to provide your employees with the tools they need to accomplish those goals.
Upcycling helps build creativity. By opening up upcycling opportunities to your employees, you may find ideas that you had not recognized previously or discover unexpected benefits, but you also get employees in the habit of thinking critically and creatively. Frequently, employees will then take those skills to their other tasks, including their daily work responsibilities.
4. Upcycling can help you cut costs
What items is your business buying that you could be upcycling instead? Often, you can cut costs by remaking an existing item instead of simply purchasing a new one.
Is that office chair getting old and creaky? A local craftsman (or skilled employee) might be able to set it back to rights. Do you have shipping crates piling up in the back warehouse? You may discover that you can reuse them for office furniture, including bookshelves.
Shipping pallets also make great tables, chairs, and a host of other useful projects. Why not consider how those projects can help you cut your spending in many areas of the business, and increase your revenue as a result?
5. Employees may appreciate upcycling as a business benefit
Many employees are looking for ways to go green themselves, and they’ll be eager to support—and stick with—a business that allows them that opportunity. In addition, many employees may find that being allowed to upcycle items for their personal use counts as a significant job benefit.
Many businesses have policies in place that prevent employees from taking items that the company plans to throw away. While some small items may end up in employees’ hands anyway (electronics are a key example) larger items are frequently much harder to remove without the company’s permission.
When you give employees permission to use those items, on the other hand, you may find that they have great ideas for projects for their own homes and families. What’s more, they’ll appreciate the cost-saving benefit of being able to take those items home with them. As a result, many employees will experience greater loyalty to your company. You’ll show that you’re a great place to work that genuinely cares about your employees and the environment, which can help increase their sense of connection to your organization.
6. You’ll get amazing, one-of-a-kind items out of your upcycling projects
Upcycling frequently allows you to create something unique: a conversation piece, piece of artwork, or item that no one else has. While small upcycled pieces around the office might go unnoticed, some of the larger ones will be sure to catch the eye. Not only does that offer more opportunities for your company to talk about its commitment to environmental sustainability, it will help set your company apart.
Your employees will take pride in their creations and their ability to share those creations with their clients, coworkers, and friends. In many cases, you can even customize those products to fit your business’s specific needs in ways that you might not have been able to customize a product purchased from somewhere else.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
Whether you’re interested in upcycling for business use or personal, getting started is simple: instead of throwing away unwanted items, consider how they can be used for a fresh, new purpose. Allow employees access to those items. Have a fun day, or take some time out of several days, to enjoy those creative opportunities.
Want to learn more? Contact us today for advice about starting your upcycling journey or how to maintain corporate social responsibility.