Innovation That Matters

Five businesses that turn trash into appealing new products

Fashion & Beauty

Creating new products from waste materials or used items has three distinct benefits for manufacturers: it gives them access to free or inexpensive materials, it lends their products an aura of sustainability, and it provides embedded stories that sellers can share with consumers, and that consumers can share with their friends. Five examples of upcycling we recently spotted: 1. NARWAHL — Neckties have long been used to add individuality to menswear. California’s Narwahl Co. is repurposing those distinctive designs by turning vintage ties into new accessories: wallets, business card holders, passport covers and wristwear, all priced in the USD 10 to USD 25 range. Each item is one of a kind, and can be bought from Narwhal’s online store or at a growing number of retail outlets in the United States. 2. HELLO REWIND — Another company taking old garments and turning them into something new is Hello Rewind. Observing that it can be hard to discard an cherished old t-shirt even when it’s worked its way to the back of the closet, Hello Rewind invites customers to send in their old tee and have it returned in the form of a custom laptop sleeve. The business supports RestoreNYC, an organisation helping sex trafficking survivors reintegrate into society. 3. RECYCLING ZYCHAL — Clothes aren’t the only household items that are ripe for repurposing. Philadelphia’s Recycling Zychal takes the city’s discarded umbrellas and fashions them into rain hoods, dog raincoats and cat toys stuffed with organic catnip. The dog coats are made to order after clients specify their umbrella choice and dog’s size. Recycling Zychal invites people to donate broken umbrellas, and will make a donation to an animal refuge for each brolly they receive. 4. ESCAMA STUDIO — Staff in California and Brazil collaborate to make Escama’s modern fashion accessories using traditional techniques. The flagship product line is a collection of bags, purses, accessories and jewellery made by crocheting together hundreds of aluminium ring-pull tabs. Each item features a tag signed by the person who made it; the website features bios of the artisans and invites customers to send them a message. 5. EMECO — Chairmaker Emeco builds chairs from 80% recycled aluminium. In collaboration with Coca-Cola the company has branched out to a new material: each of their 111 Navy Chairs is made from 111 recycled plastic bottles. Emeco hopes to encourage domestic recycling by showing that trash can be used to make stylish and functional products. Spotters: Cecilia Biemann, Andrew Sargent, Andrew Krumholz

Website: /upcycled/

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