Recycling (eng. recycle) and reuse arrived in denim fashion. For many, however, the concepts of recycle, upcycle and downcycle are still little in search, and relatively little can be said about the differences in concepts. However, all three concepts have their own purpose, which in this blog post we try to open up to you.




Recycle means recycling. The main principle of recycling is the recycling of objects or goods, i.e. sorting, through which they can be delivered for recovery, i.e. recycling and as new processing material for a new product.

Recycling saves natural resources, as much less virgin raw materials and energy are needed when producing recycled material. Recycling takes place at the end of the product's life cycle, when the use of the product as such is no longer possible or sensible. Recycling methods aim to continue the usability of recycled products by converting and processing old products into new forms.

We could talk about recycling jeans when old broken jeans no longer serve as such and their material has become very fragile. By recycling the denim fabric, it would be possible to unpack on a fibre level, a yarn from which to make new jeans made of recycled yarn.

For example, collecting and sorting bottles with pledges is also recycling. Old lemonade bottles are taken to the store's return machine for recycling, where they are flattened and transported for plastic melting and, among other things, as a ingredient in new plastic bottles.

In recycling, it is common for materials sorted in the same lary to mix and form a "recycling mass" consisting of many sorting batches. For this reason, it is important to sort in recycling according to the instructions.

Read more: Why is recycling important?


What is upcycle and upcycling? The upcycle concept and "upcyclau" are used quite a lot today, but a direct translation for upcycling has not yet been found. Upcycling is, as it were, an increase in the value of a raw material or product by reusing an old out-of-turn material in one way or another. In Upcycling, a new use of the product is invented in modified ways.

Upcycle's idea utilises discardable material such as production surpluses, by-products and scraps for new use. Instead of usable material going into waste, the upcycle method gives the product a new life.

In Upcycling, the use of the material is utilised in such a way that it at the same time brings better quality or higher value to the material. For example, it is the manufacture of Piece Of Jeans patchwork jeans that is based on this increase in the value and quality of the material brought by upcycling. The removing material is classified as waste, but the waste has been elevated to a valuable and high-quality new raw material for the design product.




What does downcycle mean and how can downcycling be translated? No suitable Finnish name has yet been found for the downcycling concept. However, downcycling, as its name suggests, means the opposite of upcycling, i.e. instead of increasing the value in downcycling, the value of the material is reduced, so to speak.

In Downcycling, a valuable product is transformed into a less valuable shape or material in such a way that parts of the material can be recovered from it that can be utilised in contrast to the original material, i.e. for a completely different use. In this way, the life cycle of the product can be lengthened, like recycling and upcycling, also in downscycling. In Downcycling, the material classified as waste is therefore converted into a form in which its value and quality are reduced.



The upper concept of all three concepts (recycle, upcycle and downcycle) is circular economy. The circular economy has emerged from a sustainability crisis in which economic and welfare growth can no longer arise from the wasteful use of natural resources and the manufacture and ownership of new goods.

"The aim of the circular economy is to need smarter economic policies in the world that will not end consumption, but will change shape in a more sustainable direction."

Upcycle and downcyle save the environment and natural resources. In both methods, the life cycle of the raw material is longer, which supports sustainable development.

Global population growth is increasing demand for raw materials and other resources. Then the amount of waste will also increase, and it is precisely the reduction in the amount of waste that the circular economy is trying to solve. In practice, the circular economy means reducing waste to a minimum. However, there are only a limited number of essential natural raw materials. Fortunately, raising awareness of the state of the planet is shaping people's attitudes and consumption habits in a more sustainable direction, which also makes recycling commonplace for many.

Read more: Why are responsible design products made from recycled materials more expensive than cheap fashion?