RECYCLING vs UPCYCLING
To be literal, recycling is the process of breaking down waste to re-new the same product again or change into an entirely different product. Whereas upcycling is taking any waste and changing it in some way to make it useful again.
So let's take this and apply it to the fashion industry! When a company or a person says something is "recycled" fashion, generally this means that a pre-existing textile was destroyed in order to salvage it's re-usable characteristics. This could mean, taking apart garments to use their fabric, or shred a t-shirt down to use it's fibers.
On the other side, there's "upcycled" fashion; where garments are sourced and either cleaned, repaired, altered or dyed to serve another purpose. In upcycled fashion, someone would simply improve an existing garment to renew it's lifecycle.
IS ONE BETTER THAN THE OTHER?
Depends! Recycling can be more eco-friendly if everything that was sourced was beyond manipulation to upcycle. A good example would be jeans so distressed they can't be worn but can be recycled to be used for it's cotton.
However, with anything recycled, it has these implications:
- Transportation for said textile to be recycled
- Energy and resources to be destroyed
- Water to be cleaned at fiber level
- Energy used to re-spin the fibers
- Water & chemicals used to bleach, dye & finish the fabric.
- Transportation to sewing factory.
- Cut & sew into new fabric.
- Freight for all new garments to distribution center.
- Ship all garment orders to customers.
Generally upcycling is the better way to go, since it doesn't really go through all the steps above.
Here at Lamero, our process is:
- Source used garments with scars & stains
- Clean, repair or dye garments to give new intention
- Add labels, hangtags
- Ship directly to customer or sell in-person at pop-up markets.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
As the "sustainable" fashion market continues to grow, it's important for the consumers to understand how environmentally impactful each method of sourcing is. This way, we don't get swindled into buying something that is conveniently marketed for it's green aspects while not mentioning how it's actually harmful.