Upcycling Is The New Recycling? Glad There's a Name For It!

The other day our designer friend Jay from Whodini Handbags asked us if we knew what the word “upcyling” meant. He said he was seeing the word a lot on that indie-designer craft super site etsy.com and was curious about its meaning.

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Upcycled Guitar Straps, pictured above from left to right: Vintage 80's Mercedes Upholstery Straps in Red, Beige, Blue, and Brown, Ford Mustang Plaid Trunk Liner Guitar Straps, and on the very end "Brady Bunch" vintage recycled furniture upholstery vinyl.

It’s always good to start with Wikipedia on stuff like this so we opened up our iphone and took a look to find that upcyling involves the “re-use of a product with crippled functionality for alternative purposes, to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production, with the intent of creating a product of higher quality design and artistic value.”

Nice! We’ve been doing that all along here at Couch Guitar Straps with our vintage vinyl straps, glad to know there’s a name for it! We took a look further around the web and it seems like it’s everywhere, even modern design leaders Dwell Magazine are in on the action declaring “Upcyling is the New Recyling” recently on dwell.com. Cool we’ll take it.

We first got this idea back in the early 2000’s when we were roaming through this old automotive upholstery warehouse where there were just tons of old 30 and 40 year old vinyl just sitting around gathering dust, most probably never to be used again. We mean, only so many people are going to reupholster their 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit bucket seats or that Brady Bunch sofa you grandmother had really isn’t going to get re-upholstered with that same neon green flowered vinyl is it?

Since then we’ve turned tons of vintage deadstock vinyls that probably would still be still sitting on the shelf in another 30 years into some pretty cool guitar straps including our Black Victorian Byloos Guitar Strap (with the Brady Bunch neon yellow backing), our Vintage Green Vines Strap made of an old vintage furniture vinyl, and our kick ass 80’s Mercedes Vintage Guitar Straps and 60’s Ford Mustang Trunk Liner Straps.

We have to admit though Jay really got us to thinking about how we could upcycle in new and different ways at Couch beyond just sourcing materials. As a vertically integrated design company that also manufactures our guitar straps, we realized we have A LOT of strap vinyl laying around- raw pieces, cut pieces, sewn strapping of less-than-guitar-strap length, you get the idea. What could we make with all this stuff that otherwise might get stored or thrown away?

Hey man, some trends are good and for a good reason and we’re down with upcycling at Couch, so we’ve introduced our Couch Beta Camera Strap, and
our Couch Slimline Wallet because like Wikipedia says, we’re always looking for new ways to “prevent waste of potentially useful materials [and] reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials”.

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Upcylcing is cool, especially when you get to make your girlfriend a cool camera strap for her Canon Rebel EOS camera or a cool recycled (upcycled you say!) racing stripe wallet for your friend Rueben, or for that matter, for all our friends at Couch. The future is this way. Upcycle. Rock. Couch.

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