The key difference between upcycling and reusing waste is that with upcycling the original intention of the object changes. For example, if a painter uses a painted canvas for a new painting, he is reusing the canvas. But if instead that same painter takes the canvas apart, uses the wood to make a frame, and uses the fabric to make a purse—that’s upcycling.
The idea of upcycling isn’t all that new. People have been upcycling for thousands of years. In fact, before the Industrial Revolution (and before processes typically needed for recycling became readily available), ...