I have decided to upcycle the term “upcycle”

December 4, 2010

Yep! I like the term “upcycle” so much that I am making it work within the context of what I do for a living (digital marketing). No longer will I use the terms “repurpose,” “tune” or “tweak” when speaking about content.

Wait. Wait. Wait. “but what the hell is upcycle” you ask? Great question!

There are varying definitions (just search the web). Simply put (by me), it’s when you take elements of an item(s) to create something completely different that becomes more valuable than the original.

Upcycling is a term I’ve heard most used in the crafting/Etsy world. One of the most awesome examples of upcycling I’ve seen is the work done by Enlightened Platypus.


Her sweaters are spectacular. AND, they are far more interesting, creative and valuable than the original bits she so creatively used to execute her vision.

If we recycle to get rid of something (because it no longer has a use), we upcycle to reimagine it. It’s the difference between working with “junk” versus “recovered” materials. The difference between being a garbage man and being an artist. Just semantics, I know… but semantics matter in my world. I was reminded of this fact just this morning while partaking of MarketingProfs University’s Content Marketing Crash Course. Ann Handley and CC Chapman spoke directly to the importance of “reimagining” content instead of recycling it. That instantly made me think of upcycling.

Hence, from this day forward, I will no longer talk about how to simply recycle content. no. no. Instead, I will speak to the importance of upcycling content to reimagine it. Join me!



5 Responses to “I have decided to upcycle the term “upcycle””

  1. C.C. Chapman said

    Awesome! Seeing that we inspired you in this way is down right awesome. No matter if it is called upcycle or reimagine the point is to make sure you get creative which you obviously get!Way to go.

  2. Ann Handley said

    Words matter. So I totally agree with upcycling to reimagine! Thanks for the shout, Heather!

  3. Heather Meza said

    Thanks CC and Ann! For the inspiration and the support 🙂

  4. KB said

    I love the new term ‘upcycle, and can be more descriptive than re-cycle. The question I have is what is the process to provide credit to those that ‘cycled’ the first rev of the originating content/art/Intellectual property. Is there a moral/ethical responsibility to try to ensure a bibliography of sorts with an upcycle approach as it relates to literature/art. Or, is it enough that we are paying homage to the original idea by choosing to upcycle it in the first place?

  5. Heather Meza said

    Great question KB! Like most things, I would say it depends upon the context and to what extent the original materials maintain their integrity—AND, of course, whether stating so lends added value to the final upcycled piece.—– Reply message —–From: "Posterous" <

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