Upcycling movement inspires local businesses in Sudbury

Upcycling is the process of taking discarded materials and making them into something else. The movement is inspiring more local businesses to sell products made from old materials.

Reusing materials is 'economical', says co-chair of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury

The growing movement of upcycling is inspiring people to create their own businesses in Sudbury.

Upcycling is the process of taking discarded materials and making them into a new product. It's different from recycling, which requires more energy as things such as paper, metal or plastic are moulded and changed by machines in order to become something else. 

The upcycling movement is inspiring businesses around the world. A Sudbury business is making custom-made furniture out of old and unwanted wood. The CBC's Samantha Lui spoke with carpenter and the company's co-owner David Kelvin.
David Kelvin and his fiancee Keshia Brushett are the owners of a local furniture company called Urban Designs and work out of their backyard workshop. 

The couple take unwanted wood they find to make custom-made furniture such as coffee tables, towel racks and kids toys like LEGO tables. 

"We basically just cruise around the country and look for barns that are falling down," Kelvin said. "We'll approach the owners of the property and we'll either offer to buy the wood off them or offer to tear the barn down for them free of charge." 

The couple has driven around Sudbury and has found wood from barns in Lively and Hanmar. Kelvin, a carpenter by trade, describes the wood he finds "old and historic." 

When approaching people for their unwanted materials, Kelvin said people are often curious about what they do and are more than happy to help them out. 

"A lot of people are just interested in what we do and what we're going to do with the wood," he said. "There's a lot of people who want their barns down and they don't have the money or time to take care of it. For them, it's a favour. We get something out of it and they get something out of it." 

Upcycling is 'economical' 

Naomi Grant, the co-chair of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, said there are more and more businesses selling upcycled products. She added that she's noticed more people upcycling in their own lives as well. 

"You can find all sorts of great things on the side of the road or at the landfill and that is economical but it's also a great way to live more lightly on the planet. You're reducing waste and reducing energies," she said. 

Grant also said that upcycling is easy for anyone to do as reusable items can be found at garage sales and clothing swaps. 

"Any time we can use existing materials, we're saving resources or the energy to recycle resources. That is the best first choice [because] we're able to reuse materials and reuse items." 

Meanwhile, Kelvin says he chooses to upcycle because he wants to set an example for his three sons. 

"One of the big things for us is, we have three kids so we want to do our part to make sure the planet is healthy in the future for them as well and reduce our emissions and carbon footprint." 


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