Upcycling is the New Recycling

upcycling project

We’re all familiar with the 3Rs that encourage us to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Today’s blog is about a fourth way to protect the environment, reduce waste, and save money: upcycling. It may not start with an R, but it should have a place in your everyday ecological practice for its power to conserve resources and continue the lifetime of products. Here are a few facts, and some supporting videos, to get you on board.

Upcycling Versus Recycling

Let’s start this conversation by designating the difference between recycling and upcycling. Recycling converts what would have been trash into a reusable material or product. Upcycling re-purposes materials that would have been trash into something of a higher quality. Recycling takes energy and resources to transform trash into another product. Upcycling saves energy and resources by using the same product to make something new. Recycling is good, but upcycling is even better! Here are a few examples to help you better understand the concept.


Upcycling is all about extending the life of materials without degrading them. For example, recycling a plastic bottle usually means creating a new product. The recycled material becomes carpet, a fleece jacket, or a toy. These things will eventually get thrown away. By upcycling plastic bottles to create a vertical garden, you’re keeping them out of a landfill. You’re also negating the need to buy a planter manufactured from some other material. The sum total is that you’re reducing waste in two ways: reducing waste and eliminating the need to buy something new. Upcycling sends materials back up the supply chain.

The Origin of Upcycling

The term “upcycle” was coined in the 2002 book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Authors William McDonough, an American architect & designer, and Michael Braungart, a German chemist, wrote about the need to change the Western approach to industrial and manufacturing systems in a bid to save the natural world. They wrote the follow-up The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance with more examples of how good design can be implemented through upcycling. McDonough and Braungart went on to found Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute as an outlet for open source information that inspires change.



In Canada, the average person throws out 81 pounds of textiles every year. When you consider that it takes 700 gallons of water to produce a tee-shirt and 1800 gallons to manufacture a pair of jeans, that’s a lot of wasted energy. The fashion industry has taken notice and responded with trashion. As you may have already guessed, trashion is an upcycling portmanteau made by combining fashion and trash. If you’re imagining dresses made out of cardboard boxes and shirts fashioned from old rags, think again. A handful of brands and designers are making beautiful pieces in a sustainable way.

Case Study: Cuba

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. In Communist Cuba, Fidel Castro banned imports on foreign cars and car parts in 1959. To keep cars on the road, citizens had to work with existing materials. This resourcefulness led to what one man calls technological disobedience. The idea is that people refused to use a machine only for its original purpose. Instead, Cubans repurposed vinyl records to replace missing fan blades and fashioned tv trays into antennas. This short documentary explores the ingenuity of the population.

Downcycling is a type of recycling that turns a material into a cheaper or weaker version of the original material.


If you’re still unsure about embracing upcycling, get some inspiration here, here, and here. There are so many ways to repurpose an item that’s already been manufactured to create something useful and beautiful. Try looking around your house before you head to the store. Do you already have an item you’re not using that could be repurposed? Get creative, involve the kids, save money, and give the environment a break. We’ll be busy figuring out how we can upcycle some old VHS tapes.

Pride Month Celebrated with Video

Toronto Pride Parade

June is officially Pride Month in Canada, the US, and the UK. This month was chosen to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that happened in June 1969, sparking the gay liberation movement. It’s been said that Pride is both the party and the protest. In today’s blog, we’ll look at how video and other forms of media are celebrating and raising awareness, reminding us all why Pride remains important.

Pride Documentaries

If you’d like some background on Pride month and Pride in general, you’re in luck. There are some excellent documentaries on the LGBTQ community YouTube isn’t just a place to watch such content, they’re also producing content. Two years ago, the company released a video highlighting queer creators as part of their Creators for Change initiative. This year, they released the original documentary State of Pride. Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman traveled with host Raymond Braun to three US communities for a look at what LGBTQ Pride means to local youth.

It Gets Better

In 2010, the power of video and social media ignited the It Gets Better movement. It all started when Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller posted a video to share their struggles as gay youths, reassuring young viewers that it gets better. Nine years later, their original post has 2,167, 852 views and counting. This is an excellent example of the emotional connection that can be achieved through video.

The movement has grown to become a nonprofit organization that provides hope, encouragement, and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth globally. More than 60,000 people around the world have shared their it gets better story. The movement has also had wide support from celebrities and has created a sense of belonging and acceptance for gay youth facing bullies and prejudice. This video is from the Canadian chapter of It Gets Better.


Stonewall—50 Years Later

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the LGBTQ2+ movement around the world. On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. The gay community fought back, resulting in five consecutive nights of riots that birthed the Pride movement. In recognition of this important anniversary, the interactive monument Stonewall Forever was created. Archived materials and visitor-contributed content combine to tell the ongoing story of Pride.


New York is hosting World Pride 2019 during the month of June. As the location of the Stonewall Riots, a space in Greenwich Village became the first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights in 2016. A documentary called Stonewall Forever unites the diverse voices of Pride over the last 50 years to explore the queer activism that inspired the LGBTQ rights movement.

Local Pride

Toronto’s Pride celebration is one of the largest in the world, attracting over one million people. The city has been in full Pride mode since June 1 with a variety of events, from the Family Pride Program to Night at the Aqueerium. The Toronto Pride Parade is this Sunday, June 23. Gigi Gorgeous, a Canadian YouTuber, actress, and LGBTQ2+ icon will be this year’s Grand Marshall.  It’s clear that our city is out in full force to support the LGBTQ+ community.

How to Get Involved

As an individual, you can recognize and honour Pride month in many ways. As a consumer, you can participate in the commercial and corporate aspect of involvement. If you’re interested in supporting the LGBTQ+ community through spending, it’s not a bad idea to do a little research when it comes to businesses hanging out a rainbow flag. As far as education and awareness go, we’re proud to see that video continues to spread the word of equality. Happy Pride!

Back to Video Basics

living room set

Sometimes less is more. In the culinary world, it’s often said that ingredients should speak for themselves. A great dish lets the pure flavours of good products shine without a lot of embellishment. When it comes to video production, sometimes simple is best. At the very least, start with the basics done well and then add the extras as necessary. Often, the videos that don’t have anything to distract from the message are the most effective. Today’s blog is all about getting back to video basics.

Pre-Production Video Basics

Every good project starts with a plan. Whether you have a specific idea of the video you want to create or just a general notion, working with a producer will allow you to make a detailed project plan. This can include a work back schedule with pre-production, production, and post-production timelines. Documents such as this get everyone on the same page. Even if timelines change, which often happens, at least there’s an agreed-upon set of objectives and an ultimate video goal.

Story is Important

Video production is all about storytelling. Regardless of what type of video you’re producing, the goal is to tell an engaging story that connects with your audience. That could mean a speech delivered by the head of a company or the testimonial of a satisfied customer. Whatever the case, the story you’re telling is the crux of any video. If this story needs a script, that’s the starting point of production. Having a clear idea of the story you’re telling, inspired by what you want to achieve, is a video basic that must be followed for a successful project.

Camerawork Video Basics

Back to Video Basics
Good camerawork is a video basic

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. That saying rings true when it comes to video basics, starting with footage. Good footage is the foundation of a good video. Skilled, professional camera operators will deliver pictures that are clear, crisp, and technically proper. They’ll gather the shots that create the framework for a video, giving life to the subject matter in a way that speaks to the audience and supports the overall video production. There’s a certain amount of manipulation that can be done to improve bad footage in the edit suite. However,  if you start with inferior raw material, it’s that much more difficult to create a stellar final project.

Lighting and Sound Video Basics

Back to Video Basics
Sound tech monitors equipment on set

You can’t have good footage without proper lighting and sound—another video basic. It’s a package deal and most camera operators will know how to do all three. Sometimes you have a larger crew for a more involved production, which means separate people are responsible for each technical element. For smaller shoots that involve single-person interviews or less elaborate set-ups, the camera operator will take care of the lights and run the audio. Working with poor audio or bad lighting puts post-production staff in a precarious position. Poor audio and video can be addressed with boosted signals, but a much better end product is achieved with raw footage that has been properly recorded.


An editor who receives footage with clear, well-lit images and clean audio has their work cut out for them. They don’t need to waste a lot of time adjusting colour or fixing sound to correct mistakes. Instead, they can jump right into weaving together the story that was identified before a single frame of the project was shot. Although editors have the skill and the resources to add all kinds of effects to footage, a good story doesn’t need to be gilded. A few simple additions such as name fonts, production music, and perhaps a company logo could be all that’s needed. Telling a good story through simple editing is a video basic.

Start Good, End Great

When you start with the best raw materials, it’s easy to have a great final product. Video production is like a recipe—using superior ingredients guarantees the best result. At Key West Video, we strive to do the video basics well. Working from a solid foundation means we have the freedom to strip a video down to the basic elements that really speak to an audience. But it also means we have the freedom to manipulate a high-end product without worrying about sacrificing quality. When you have the video basics covered, the sky’s the limit.

Behind-the-Scenes Content Builds Business

bts content is popular

Avenger’s Endgame was a blockbuster movie produced by Marvel Studios. It brought together the Avengers characters in a final stand against Thanos as they tried to save the universe. That’s the plot of the movie. The reality of the movie is an unprecedented gathering of star power for a highly-anticipated film. The studio went to great lengths to avoid spoilers, including banning the stars from taking pictures and video on set. Then the movie was released, the money started pouring in, and the fans got even more than they bargained for. Sure, the film is still pulling in a record-breaking amount of money but the behind-the-scenes (BTS) clips supplied by the stars has created a whole next wave of interest. People love to see the extras that provide a personal, exclusive connection. That goes for movies, and it goes for business.

BTS Business Benefits

There’s no denying that people love to pull back the curtain and see how things work. Anecdotally, Key West Video knows that social media posts showing our crew on set, pictures from the office, and snaps from the road get the most attention and the greatest number of comments. It’s absolutely true that taking your audience behind-the-scenes can have a positive effect on your business. Posting videos and images with a personal touch can drive traffic to your website, attract potential clients, and be a boon for word-of-mouth advertising.

 BTS Branding Benefits

When it comes to branding, a peek behind-the-scenes is a very effective business tool. Candid pictures and videos promote the human side of your business, which builds trust. This kind of content makes the audience feel included and lets them put a face on your brand. It’s also an opportunity for a business to show off talented team members hard at work. Customers who see their values reflected in your business and staff will be more likely to engage with your services. Behind-the-scenes content is memorable and helps a business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace.

Stepping away from sales-focused content is refreshing for customers. If they’re looking at your social media account or website, they probably already know your business. Why not give them another reason to like you and keep returning for more? The casual, current, easy-to-supply nature of behind-the-scenes content means a little effort earns you great returns. Social media is an excellent place to try implementing BTS content for the first time. Once you get comfortable and gauge viewer reaction, you can serve up more of what they like.

Generating Behind-the-Scenes Ideas

There are so many ways to show what goes on behind-the-scenes at a business. One example we love is from Amazon. They’ve combined the popularity of internet animals and the craving for BTS content with the Dogs of Amazon. It’s a long-standing tradition for employees to bring their fur babies to work and the company really embraces pets. Do you have an office pet that’s not afraid of the spotlight?


Here are some more ideas on how you can share BTS content:

  • Highlight your success by choosing clips that show progress and achievements. Nothing’s wrong with a little humble bragging.
  • Build hype with a sneak peek of a new product or project in the works.
  • Is there something that might surprise or delight people about how your business operates?
  • Share your funny side. Consumers are more likely to both like and share a BTS video that makes them laugh.
  • Include media from a team building day or an event outside the office.
  • What do your workers do in their free time? Feature employee talents beyond the office setting.
  • Show your office space, especially if you have some unique features or somewhere products are produced.
  • Ask employees if they have ideas for BTS content and also ask customers what they’d like to see.

Getting Personal

Looking behind-the-scenes is a little bit like participating in sanctioned gossip. We all like to feel we’re in the know and privy to inside information. People don’t expect BTS content to look perfect. It’s a slice of life moment that’s easy to capture and easy to post. So take advantage of the format and give your customers a chance to get to know your business a little better.

Blood Donations Benefit from Video Support

World Blood Donor Day

Today is an important day with the potential to directly affect fifty percent of our population. It’s World Blood Donor Day and half of all Canadians will either know someone who needs blood or will need blood themselves. Countries around the world are recognizing this day in an effort to raise awareness of the need for blood and blood products. There’s also a goal to promote and inspire more blood donations by talking about how easy and how important it is to donate.


How to Donate

If you’re donating blood in Canada, Canadian Blood Services is the agency you’ll use. There are 35 permanent donor centres, plus more than 4000 mobile donor centres across the country. The Canadian Blood Services website is full of information and they use video extensively to help visitors understand the importance of donation and the process. We’ll look at several videos in this blog, starting with this general promotional video.


What Happens During a Donation?

One of the most common questions asked by prospective and new donors is what happens during a blood donation? The process is outlined here and you can watch an overview video (see below). There’s even an interactive quiz you can take to see whether you’re eligible. Then you can make an appointment online.



Blood Donations Benefit from Video Support
The snack table at a blood donation clinic

Your reward for making a blood donation? A refreshing drink, a delicious snack, and the satisfaction of helping others! After your first donation, the process is even faster. Donations take ten to fifteen minutes and most people can donate once every three months.

O-Negative DONORS ARE CONSIDERED UNIVERSAL because THIS BLOOD TYPE can be given to anyone 

How Will My Donation be Used?

Blood donations are used in many ways. Most people think of accident victims and surgical patients as the destination for blood donations. Did you know that donations are also used for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy? Here’s some more info on how your blood donation can help save lives.

Global Blood Donation Numbers

The need for blood donors is global:

  • 117.4 million blood donations are collected around the world
  • High-income countries like Canada contribute 42% of blood donations
  • In low-income countries, up to 52% of transfusions are given to children under 5
  • In high-income countries, seniors receive the most blood transfusions
  • Between 2008 and 2015, an increase of 11.6 million blood donations was reported

Blood Donation and Safety

Safety is a top priority when it comes to blood donation in Canada. Canadian Blood Services has an entire webpage with information about safety procedures and a series of videos in which the CEO of Canadian Blood Services addresses the importance of safety.

There are three main components of blood donation safety:

  • donors are screened for the transmission of infectious diseases
  • all donated blood undergoes extensive testing for infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis viruses
  • donated blood is scrutinized for new, emerging pathogens that could pose a risk to the population, such as SARS or the Zika virus

Leading by Example

Across North America, 43,000 pints of blood are used daily and a single pint of blood (the average donation) can save up to three lives. We think once you’ve donated, you’ll see how easy it is to make it a habit.

Blood Donations Benefit from Video Support
Polina took time to donate blood last week

We’re proud to say that one of our editors donates blood regularly. She’s showing us all how easy it is to get involved and save lives. Thank you, Polina.