I always try to describe to you what kind of valuable, fine and innovative materials the products in the Upcycler range are made of. In the same context, I often have to use, for example, the word "waste" to truthfully describe the origin or method of manufacture of a material. After all, recycling is precisely the recovery of waste.
However, "waste" as a word does not do justice to the material, nor does it evoke very positive images. The waste sounds at least to my own ear from some rubbish dug and who would want one on top of it now?
However, waste can be a raw material for a wide variety of materials and products.
An example is the cotton plant, the cultivation of which consumes a huge amount of natural resources. When the plant is made into cotton fiber, the plant naturally utilizes the familiar white cotton ball. In addition to this, the cotton seeds are covered with a short fluff which is a waste in the normal production process. However, the fluff can be made into cupro, a luxuriously silky shiny material with many great properties.
Gold or cupro?
For many materials, I would rather talk about hidden treasures, uncut diamonds, or gold nuggets than waste. Well, then why am I not?
Because I believe that we as consumers are becoming more aware of the effects of different production processes on the planet, the local environment and people at different stages of production processes. All of this knowledge is evolving around us all the time and more and more people are making consumption choices based on ecological and ethical factors.
When talking about production and materials, it is important that things are described truthfully and correctly. How else could we even try to assess what kind of effects they have?
Recycling or reuse?
In the recycling vocabulary, English often feels more functional than Finnish. Recycling, kierrätys, means the returning waste back to circle. Reuse means materials uudelleenkäyttö, in which case the readymade material is used in a new or same way as before.
In Finnish, recycling and reuse are confused in everyday speech. At the moment, for example, the term recycling can hide just as great textile innovations as pure green washing. Quite a lot more information is needed as a consumer to find out what is really going on.
If I bring second hand clothes, for example, to a collection point where they are "recycled", I still don't know much about what happens to them. Are they sold as second hand clothing, are they made into new fiber, or do they end up as landfill, for example?
There is still an unfortunate amount of talk about reuse, when it is a very worthwhile activity and many reuse used clothes, for example.
Second hand items are actually reused
Personally, when writing product descriptions, I often feel tempted to use the word recycled, when I assume it would describe the material better than reused. On the other hand, I cannot know whether the customer interprets it as I think. We have such a variety of information, perceptions, and assumptions that it is dangerous to assume that these terms are self-evident and comprehensible. So I feel responsible on doing my best to describe things by their real names.
Even if the words aren’t always very beautiful, I hope the beauty of the products, internal and external, speak for themselves.
PS. upcycling in Finland there may not be a word at all. English upcycling is a term that says that old material can be used to create something even finer. Or did you come up with a good word for it in Finnish?