Sustainable Development Research at Universities in the United Kingdom

Part of the series World Sustainability Series pp 193-227


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

  • Kyungeun SungAffiliated withNottingham Trent University Email author 
  • , Tim CooperAffiliated withNottingham Trent University
  • , Sarah KettleyAffiliated withNottingham Trent University

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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