Upcycling has been called the sexier, greener version of recycling. According to upcycling enthusiasts recycling aka “downcycling” is breaking a product down into something of lesser quality while “upcycling” transforms or re-invents an otherwise disposable product into something of greater value i.e. an old suitcase made into a pet bed.
During the 2009 Rocks Aroma Coffee Festival in Sydney, Australia, a 20 x 13 foot replica of the Mona Lisa was created using 3,604 disposable coffee cups filled with varying amounts of coffee and milk, a reinterpretation of Da Vinci’s “painting” where brush strokes were the positioning of the upcycled coffee cups and paint the amount of coffee vs. milk in each cup. Other innovative uses for spent coffee include efforts by companies like Equator Coffee and Teas, of San Rafael, CA who re-use their coffee waste to grown protein rich mushrooms in developing countries. And then there are the dozens of re-purposing entrepreneurs who have launched web-based businesses upcycling all manner of things coffee including burlap sacks once used to transport green coffee beans now made into upscale pillows and tote bags.
So while you’re enjoying your next latte macchiato or doppio espresso, engage your right brain and start thinking about a creative use for that disposable coffee cup or foil lined coffee bag, a product that deserves a new life as a vase or designer hat.