According to Wikipedia, the term “upcycle” was coined in 1994 and is defined as “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality for better environmental value.” The thought was that instead of taking old products and breaking them down, a more environmentally advantageous thing to do would be to build them up into better products that have more value than their originals.
I think that any company who uses promotional products is, at some point, faced with an overflow of products that they don’t need anymore. Whether it’s because their logo has changed or the product is out of date (like a calendar) or brands are just looking for something new, there are many reasons why older products don’t get used anymore. So, instead of throwing them away, why not get a little crafty and make those products into something new?
Larabar had a great example of upcycling old promotional products on their facebook page.
Larabar worked with Western Carolina Sewing Company to turn some of their outdated promotional material, like t-shirts, into totes and pouches. Not only does this create fun new products, but it promotes an eco-friendly message at the same time.
This idea applies not only to the companies who want to do the upcycling themselves, like Larabar, but also to people who have received promotional products in the past. I’m a runner. I can’t tell you how many race t-shirts I’ve received. And while I don’t want to necessarily throw them away since they hold memories, I don’t always wear all of them either. This would be the perfect thing to upcycle. Just a quick Pinterest search led me to all of these great ideas of what I could do with my shirts.
Turn a shirt into a tote bag:
Turn a shirt into a baby bib:
Turn a shirt into a scarf:
Have you ever upcycled any promotional products before? Let us know what you did with them in the comments!