What is upcycling?
Upcycling is turning trash into treasure. It's creating new from old, taking a material and repurposing it, and giving it new life as a new object. The goal is that the new object is an improvement on what it previously was, or that is becomes upgraded, in a way. You could think of it as a combination of recycling and upgrading something.
Why do we upcycle?
Besides the satisfaction of taking something plain, raw, ugly or worn out and turning into something stunning, upcycling has ecological advantages as well. It keeps materials out of the landfill, and cuts down on production of new materials in a world where there is already too much. Perhaps the better question would be "why not upcycle?".
In our situation, we're mainly upcycling wood and a little metal. Deforestation is a massive issue that negatively effects fragile ecosystems in incredibly tragic ways. We cannot grow trees faster than we are cutting them down.
The idea for Westerfield Woodworks was spawned not long after Kip began working in cabinetry for the first time. He saw how many beautiful small pieces of wood were being thrown in the trash every single day. As someone who has always tried to find ways to reuse just about anything, it was painful for him to watch all this wonderful wood go to waste. These were high quality hard woods like walnut, maple and sapele! He started to think of any reason he could to rescue these scraps from the cabinet leftovers graveyard. Luckily, Kip is also a very creative individual.
The pieces are often long, thin cuts that came off the end of larger boards, or a part of the wood that wasn't desirable for cabinets such as burls or sapline pieces. He started by collecting odds and ends, and making small boxes and cubbies for organizing around the house. Then, he thought of cutting boards. The perfect things to make from these small pieces! He combined his woodworking skills with his art skills, and has been doing so ever since.
Upcycling and our future
It was the opportunity to reduce waste that began this business in the first place. Passion for repurposing is what will continue to drive it. Today, Kip still works at a custom cabinetry shop and still brings home high quality wood scraps weekly. A small percentage of the more exotic woods are purchased from ethical sources when unable to be collected from scraps. For hardware like the handles on our serving boards, we shop at local salvage and reuse shops. We believe every bit of reused material makes a difference.
In early 2024, we plan to expand into furniture restoration. Stay tuned!