Wikipedia says it best. “Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.”
The Maker’s Movement has the notion of upcyling as a foundational part. Don’t just take my word for it. Make Magazine has an entire collection of articles explaining how people have turned old unwanted waste into desirables.
Other approaches are like an Australian initiative: ‘the Ethical Makers Movement’. https://www.facebook.com/ethicalmakersmovement?fref=ts and http://www.ethicalmakersmovement.com
And there is a great article on this at http://magazine.ouishare.net/2015/07/makers-open-source-and-sustainable-design-an-interview-with-dawn-danby/ – we encourage you to read it.
Their summary: “We’re facing an unimaginable raft of interrelated challenges like water scarcity and climate disruption. But solutions to these shared problems are cropping up everywhere: makers around the world are exploring how to apply their skills to deliver thoughtful, human-centered, environmentally considerate projects“
Our approach will be multifaceted. Much of this our members do already, so we probably won’t break new ground. And some of these approaches are counter-productive, so we will recommend a ‘thoughtful best effort’ and not set hard and fast rules. An example? Old devices can consume more electricity than newer devices, so sometimes, it is best to discard and recycle something old, rather than repair it.
Repairing & upgrading products
-Repairing a product to functionally double its life reduces the environmental cost by delaying the need to purchase a new product.
-Upgrading a product IS upcycling it. Whether computer hardware, phone or tablet software.
Considering Transport components
-Encourage our Members to consider the ‘product miles’ our purchases incorporate.
-Purchase local or Australian goods or materials. International transport is often a major component of product miles.
Discarding & Waste Disposal
-Ensure waste is properly discarded and recycled. eg. Batteries, Oil, Electronics, Computers, plastics, metals & biodegradables.
Design for Disassembly, Repair-ability, Durability & Product Lifetime
-Encourage considered design in our products to address these critical components
-Foremost is Design for Product Lifetime – Autodesk explains this awesomely well at this PDF link.
In summary, we suggest our members do all in their power to be stewards of Earth and through their actions, positively contribute. This is easier than it sounds, if the above is taken into consideration. As creators, we must lead.