The project

How did it start?

The idea of the “Upcycle It!” project was born on a rainy autumn day in 2009. With environmental disasters lurking around the corner, an economical crises approaching, overwhelming mass production and a worrying overconsumption, we started examining the contents of our trash bins.

There were different reasons to look more closely at what we actually throw away. We wanted to realize the impact we have as citizens on the environmental situation, question our habits and find out what choices we can make to change this impact. We wanted to know what we could use our trash for and why it ended up in the bin in the first place. To experiment and challenge ourselves with making the worthless valuable. To re-mix handicraft, existing knowledge and new techniques with unexpected materials. We were searching to build a community, a platform of people sharing a wish to experience a creative process together and find  small solutions to big problems. So – we created workshops about trash and sustainability in different locations in Berlin, Germany and Asturias, Spain and decided to share the ideas from the workshops with you in a book and in videos.

What is the! project about?

This project is about upcycling – the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. 23 workshops took place in Berlin, Germany and Austurias, Spain and resulted in a book and video manuals. The project is made possible through financial support from the Youth in Action program.

Check out some basic facts: Upcycle, D.I.Y.

What happened?

The last year we discovered Upcycling as a concept – and as a starting point for a sustainable evolution. Upcycling is a term that describes the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. With this concept in mind we started a learning process – from normal consumers we became trash hunters. After collecting every type of trash we needed to prioritize and learned what was more interesting to keep. We became more experienced and developed knowledge of where to get which materials, set up structures with cafes collecting waste, or large companies giving us part of their waste. We got to know the characteristics of the most common materials and we developed into trash engineers. 

In a sustainable future, we think it is impossible to treat our natural resources in the wreckless manner that we do today. Actually we do not need waste at all, because after all, waste is a question of perception – what we consider as waste today could be considered as resources in the future. In nature, the concept of waste does not exist. We want to find products which are made to last and to see more often the thought of how to re-use the materials and components of the products integrated in the designing process. As well as seeing how designers look at the entire process when they design products, and how to companies invest in this kind of products and designs. Since this future seems to be quite far ahead, in the meantime we search for alternative solutions of how to treat our waste.

Many people have contributed to the Upcycle it! project in one way or another, with ideas, time, inspiration, critics and trash. We would like to share with you our ideas and experiences, and hope that you will do the same with others. We wish that when seeing the results of this project, you will be tempted to discover how many resources actually leave your home without you thinking about it.

See you in the trash container!
the! crew

Here you can find a presentation of the project in English and in German!


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