Creative reuse, also known as upcycling or repurposing, is the process of taking materials or products that are unwanted for their original function and through creativity, transforming them into pieces of art, home decoration, or other useful items. This is different from recycling, where the products are broken down to its component parts and re-manufactured into new products. Creative reuse is also different from conventional reuse, where the product is used in its original purpose again.
Creative reuse projects can be big or small and can be made from anything that would otherwise have been thrown away. Many creative reuse projects and works are created from corporate and manufacturing discards. Creative reuse works can range from high art to crafts done with children. Creative reuse can be items or artwork that are sold for profit, for non-profit causes, or just for fun. Many examples of creative reuse can be found on Pinterest.com or for sale on Etsy.
Creative Reuse Centers, originating in the 1970s, collect donations of reusable materials and redistribute them at affordable or no costs. Most creative reuse centers are open to the public, although there are certain membership or educational only creative reuse centers as well. There are over a hundred creative reuse centers in the United States, and another hundred in the UK where they are membership organizations known as Scrapstores. A great listing of creative reuse centers around the globe can be found in the Lancaster Creative Reuse website. Another list of centers can be found here. There is also an support network for these centers called the Creative Reuse Association.
Some of the more notable Creative Reuse Centers that are open to the public include: East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, California,; Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; reDiscover Center in Los Angeles, CA, SCRAP PDX based in Portland Portland, OR,; SCRAP SF in San Francisco, The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse in Long Beach, California, The Scrap Exchange in Durham, North Carolina.
Another way creative reuse comes into play is through environmentally friendly gifts or "green gifts". Buying eco-friendly gifts made from recycled materials and hand-crafted into something unique and useful is becoming a chic new and environmentally friendly way to shop for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and the holidays.