What is upcycling? Mr Beam explains

Recycling is a topic that is well known to most people and also enjoys widespread use. But upcycling? Get to know one of the most creative craft trends of 2023 now and try it yourself!

Upcycling - discover a sustainable boom

You may have seen a specific work of art in the front yard of a house, in a shop window, or while walking through a park or museum: works made out of different materials or objects. Imaginative. Unusual. Sometimes a bit bizarre too. But totally exciting - mainly because each of these pieces is a real one-off. Strictly speaking, an upcycling one-off. A unique item made from old lightbulbs, bicycle parts, watering cans or whatever has just been discarded and could be used as an element of a new art object. A one-of-a-kind piece that creates a welcome added value by putting things or materials together.

These unique pieces document the difference between recycling and upcycling in a very magical way - and particularly vividly. Because while recycling feeds raw materials into the cycle by shredding wood, liquefying plastics and melting down metals to create something new from them, upcycling uses entire components. The hand of a clock. The glass of a tea light. Or the frame of a pair of glasses. So the handicraft boom creates new things from old parts, not from previously melted down materials. Components of such a work do not come from the building materials store, but from the flea market or even from your own attic.

What actually makes upcycling so popular?

Upcycled denim jacket

A work of art that has been cobbled together from old objects or parts of them has an unmistakable charm. A little bit retro or a little bit shabby. Things you love can be integrated. This makes the value of upcycling particularly individual. Therefore, artists do not necessarily sell such an object, but decorate the garden and terrace, balcony or front door areas. And best of all: Because the unique piece represents the prototype of upcycling, prospective or already experienced artists can work creatively to their heart's content. It's not the standardized off-the-shelf fashion item that counts, but your own taste.

Good to know: Anyone with an imagination can use the concept of upcycling and incorporate it into everyday life in a very practical way. Our little guide tells you how it works.

What is upcycling? - The concept under the magnifying glass

We have already explained the difference between upcycling and recycling. But what exactly does upcycling mean - especially the prefix "up"? Does downcycling also exist? And in fact, the "up" is the decisive clue. It indicates that objects receive real added value through the use of creative upcycling. For example, when a garden table is made from an old wooden barrel and a discarded glass plate. Typical and valuable goals of upcycling are above all creative reuse and value increase of materials and components.

Which materials can be used?

Unlimited imagination. This characterizes the essence of upcycling. The materials that can be used are correspondingly multifaceted.


Examples of real classics are:

  • Glass
  • Wood
  • textiles
  • plastics
  • Metals such as copper, brass, silver, aluminium or stainless steel

Discover the benefits of upcycling

Of course, you know the corresponding reports from the media. Plastic waste that affects the sea and its animal inhabitants. Plumes of smoke from waste incineration plants whose function is to burn plastic or residual waste. High landfills, under which are tons of waste. With every utility or art object from the field of upcycling, hobbyists make a valuable contribution. Conservation of resources and avoidance of waste are indispensable ecological requirements today, with which we improve our green footprint.

Social and economic benefits also characterize the essence of upcycling. Because even if today private hobbyists produce creative DIY ideas from apparently inferior or even worthless resources, local crafts and community initiatives also benefit. Craftsmen from numerous trades - such as carpenters, electricians or metalworkers, but also tailors, glaziers and artisans - conjure up new uses from raw materials, components and rubbish objects that can no longer be used. Both functionally and visually. Special online exchanges, such as the popular and already proven Etsy, handicraft markets, but also your own small business are typical examples of how such products can then be marketed.

Upcycled denim pillow

However, very special institutions also benefit from the idea of ​​producing sustainable things from used items and thereby creating added value. Kindergarten and school children learn through the fun of handicrafts that apparently useless or old things offer creative potential and that something great new can be created from them. Such "pedagogy of upcycling" is age-appropriate and motivating , so that the youngsters look at the topic of waste differently. Children and young people in particular learn this particularly well and integrate such valuable behaviors into their everyday lives as environmentally friendly basics.

Workshops for the disabled and special schools should also offer upcycling projects as a creative form of handicrafts. This promotes protégés of these facilities both motorically and creatively. Avoiding waste through creative work also serves as a solid environmental education measure. In addition, such works of art are also for sale, something when a school festival is pending. Of course, associations of all kinds also benefit from such ideas and projects, but so do charitable initiatives, including those from the church sector. Adult education centres or similar educational institutions also offer great inspiration through courses and workshops in the field of upcycling.

Discover examples from the creative universe of upcycling

Upcycling decoration

Would you like practical examples of inspiring upcycling as a suggestion? But of course! Our blog offers exciting ideas - because our Mr Beam laser cutter is also a perfect tool for producing high-quality and durable creative projects from objects that have actually already been discarded, but of course also from leftover material. Cool examples from our blog are the transformation of a tetrapak into a stylish vase or ideas on how to turn old jeans into a fashionable revival or even a casual favourite pillow. Of course, such inspirations can currently be modified according to need, taste and creativity.

Creative ideas from the universe of upcycling are also:

  • Glasses holder made from old hairbrushes
  • Hanging basket made from a bicycle wheel
  • Decorative picture made from an old piece of glass
  • Shoulder bag made of denim and floral fabric patterns, also decorated with old rivets

Projects of this kind can sometimes also be carried out perfectly with our Mr Beam laser cutter. Whether cutting or engraving - the smart device acts as a practical and highly efficient all-rounder that optimally supports the professional and precise implementation of creative ideas.

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Upcycling in everyday life - implementing great ideas and protecting the environment

Upcycled felt hat

Each of us - including you - can create value by using upcycling, implement creative leisure activities, and maybe even earn money. The start of creativity and experimentation - by the way a valuable stress relief - is the imaginative appraisal of rubbish and old things. What else could you conjure up new, beautiful and, above all, valuable from the old felt hat, the unsightly watering can or the removed arched window?

Can you make money with upcycling?

Naturally. Even if ingenuity and inventiveness should underline the creative focus, good earning opportunities can also be implemented.

Our conclusion on upcycling

The emergence of the cool upcycling boom is bringing gratifying benefits. Especially great: Because old raw materials are already available, this form of creativity costs little. Risk: practically zero - Probability of great results, fun and environmental protection: mega! Grab a Mr Beam laser cutter and discarded parts and try out the new hobby!

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