Individual Upcycling in the UK: Insights for Scaling up Towards Sustainable Development

  • Kyungeun Sung
  • Tim Cooper
  • Sarah Kettley
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Community-level innovation or action for sustainability is an important strand for sustainable development. As such, researchers investigated grassroots innovations, community-driven development or bottom-up approach. Many studies have focused on expert-led poverty alleviation projects, market-led social enterprises, or activists-led social movements for sustainable development. Relatively little attention has been paid to rather spontaneous, unorganised, citizen’s collective actions. This paper, therefore, aims to analyse one such example in the UK from the perspective of Design for Sustainable Behaviour; and to suggest how behavioural insights could feed into the development of strategies for scaling up collective actions towards sustainability. The selected action (or behaviour) is individual upcycling—creation or modification of any product from used materials for a product of higher quality or value than the original. Interviews with 23 British residents with practical upcycling experiences were analysed to identify some characteristics in individual upcycling behaviour. The results expand current understanding of individual upcycling in terms of the variance in behaviour, behavioural context and potential group differences based on demographic attributes. The paper further links the analytic insights to the ideas of scaling-up.


Scaling-up Sustainable design Sustainable development Upcycling 



This work was funded by Nottingham Trent University with support from the RCUK Energy Programme’s funding for the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products, grant reference EP/N022645/1. The participation in the Symposium on Sustainable Development Research at Universities in the United Kingdom was funded by the Design Research Society.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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