Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just-In-Time Upcycling

In the old days, like back as far as the 60's people used to re-use stuff.  Then along came re-cycling which was not the same as re-use.  Re-cycling meant grinding stuff up and then using it as feed stock for something brand-new.  Old stuff was passe. New stuff was hip.  Recycling was something that hippies did.  Re-use was something your mom or your grandmother did. That is, your mom didn't throw away your old clothes but patched them up or made them last a while longer by maybe altering them or embroidering on them or turning old stuff into quilts, or your dad would take bent nails and pound on them with a hammer till they were straight again and could have another life. 
And then, stuff became so cheap that re-use became too quaint for any reasonable person to countenance.  Re-use became more expensive if you counted your time than simply throwing stuff away and buying new.  That was in the days when people had jobs.
But now that jobs are going extinct, more and more people don't have jobs and all of a sudden, re-use isn't such a stupid proposition.  But re-use isn't a cool name for what we are doing and instead it has been re-branded as up-cycling. Whatever. 
It is what it is and little by little, more and more people are tapping into the recycling and waste stream and extracting materials from it that once upon a time were practically worthless.  Instead of grinding everything down to pulp and then squirting it out of some machine to make new stuff, more and more people are taking the practically worthless stuff and using it as is or modifying it just a little to fit their own use.  Nothing new, really, but as more and more people do this, the stuff that used to be worthless will become more and more precious.  With nobody having jobs and the money to buy the new stuff made from old stuff, the old stuff as is without being recycled will become more expensive.
So this is where the concept of just-in-time upcycling comes in.  You have to grab stuff out of the waste stream and modify it to suit you while you can, before everyone else realizes that this is where it's at and makes the stuff that is now being thrown away into an expensive commodity.
Check out Wendy Tremayne and The Good Life in my next post for more on this topic.

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