Vases created from old plastic bottles and jute, jewellery made from old safety pins, wall clocks made from old vinyl records, coffee mug racks created from wood - this is the concept of upcycling; basically recreating beautiful objects using trash and waste materials. The definition on Wikipedia states, “Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.”
This concept is becoming widely popular in our country with a number of upcycling markets, shops and organisations, giving old goods a new avatar. So if you’re ever on the lookout for such goods, then we tell you where to get them from.
Wire plastic baskets, backpacks, pencil cases, mats and more is what you will find at Baladarshan, a fair trade organisation (a first in India guaranteed by the WFTO), which was founded in 2002 by an Indo-french couple, Philippe and Denise Malet. The couple were involved in the economic and educational development of the slums through the NGO, namely SPEED Trust, they created in 1999.
Philippe says, “We started training youngsters, especially school drop-out teen girls in tailoring and Baladarshan came in support to promote and market their realizations. SPEED also started working with some slum women skilled in baskets weaving. BALADARSHAN designed and developed afterwards a range of baskets, storages, etc using Poliethylene wire sourced from a workshop in Chennai that makes this wire from plastics/bottles converted in PET granulates.” Later on they saw that many huts and houses in the slum were covered with flex banners, billboards, and they got the idea to use the same material for bags and accessories.
“With some imagination, a wide range of new products can be developed at a cheap price giving in the same time a lot of job opportunities,” he says, about the benefits of upcycling.
Most Popular Products: It depends on the countries, the seasons, etc. Products made from billboards are well sold in Australia, baskets are preferred in Europe/USA.
Reach Them At: 044-64572188, www.baladarshan.com, email@example.com. Their products can also be purchased at their showroom in Pallavan Salai, Chennai.
Founded five years ago by Kapil Sharma, Ecowings is an international brand based in central India, which offers export quality upcycled lifestyle products globally (to over 134 countries). “We work mainly with truck and bike tire tube and develop functional, fashionable and trendy products out of this material. The material is sturdy, waterproof, robust, and substitute of leather. Wild life was the core inspiration for us. We evolved the upcycling of tire tube and then it gradually became our passion,” says Sharma, adding, “Our products are saving wild life as truck tire tube is the substitute of leather at the same it is reducing carbon foot print and protecting our environment.”
They currently have 23 products, including laptop bags, back packs, wallets, pouches, iPad cases and belts, among others. "To save our planet upcycling can be a powerful tool and can open new sustainable ways," he concludes.
Most Popular Products: Laptop bags, sling bags and back packs
Reach Them At: 09752522666, www.ecowings.in
Kabadiwalla Connect is a social enterprise start-up dedicated to helping Indian communities handle their recyclable waste responsibly. By leveraging the power of information technology, the team hopes to work together to send less waste into India’s landfills. Founded by Siddharth Hande in February 2015, they believe in designing products with integrity and sustainability at its core. “Design must respond to the global crisis of today, and the process of up-cycling and re-purposing materials enables us to shift our perception of ‘waste,’ viewing it as a valuable raw material instead. Design has a significant role to play to enhance and optimize every stage of our economic cycle, and could help change attitudes towards our collective responsibility towards the natural world,” shares Hande.
The team is currently researching locally available materials that they can re-purpose to design their products. For example, including reclaimed wood, reclaimed jute, palm leaf, bamboo, etc. And they are prototyping an elegant modular storage system, that will help you easily segregate and sort your recyclable waste at home. While there are many advantages of upcycling, the only drawback is that “The market for upcycled products is currently only a niche segment; Moreover the perception of up cycled products as having a kitsch/novelty factor is something that needs to be overcome through a strong design vision”, says Hande.
The Kabadiwalla Connect team is still prototyping and developing their product range, hence the above image is of the prototypes of simple utility products, which they are planning to build with reclaimed wood.
Reach Them At: www.kabadiwallaconnect.in, facebook.com/KabadiwallaConnectProject, twitter.com/kabadiconnect
RootBazaar, an offline and online store that makes living a zero-waste lifestyle convenient, was founded in 2015.
So what was the inspiration behind starting RootBazaar? Founders Sabira Lakhani and Sahar Mansoor realized that in today’s society, consumption won’t stop. “We can encourage minimalism, we can put in structures to process waste, but if we are going to mass consume, we asked ourselves, shouldn’t we do it less impactfully? We believe that respecting nature and the earth should be a significant part of our time here on earth. Living a zero-waste lifestyle is not impossible, but it’s not simple either. We live in a world that prioritizes convenience, so we want to provide products, kits, information, and education that makes it easy to try and hopefully convert to a more conscious lifestyle,” they explain.
They work with locally available raw materials such as coconut oil, rock salt, essential oils, etc. “Our product line is created from all natural ingredients native to your own kitchen and backyard and of course all our products are packaged in zero-waste packaging, using up-cycled glass bottles, compostable coconut fiber twig for tags,” say the founders.
Most Popular Procucts: Lemongrass bath salt and body scrub is a popular favourite with young moms. Other favourites are Dessert Dry Shampoo and Raw Morning Breakfast Scrub.
Find Them Here: http://rootbazaar.weebly.com/about.html
The Upcycle Project
This is the place to be if you are looking for products like key chains, coasters and clocks, in quirky designs. The Upcycle Project was founded in 2014 by Amishi Shah, who was pursuing her masters in the UK when she stumbled upon the concept of a social enterprise and upcycling. After returning she experimented with upcycling on the weekends whilst pursuing a full time job on the weekdays and after 6 months of doing this, she quit to start her own line of upcycled gifting and decor products.
“The product is conceptualized looking at current decor and gifting trends. At the moment I work with waste Vinyl records that are made from PVC, are toxic and are otherwise non-recyclable. We have a strong supply chain of raddiwalas from whom we source the raw material,” she says.
On the future of upcycling in India, Amishi says, “Upcycling at home is a creative solution to the waste problem and will help inculcate a mind set in both young children and adults of lesser wastage and creative uses of the waste. Waste recycling is multimillion dollar industry and since more waste is generated every day, the future of upcycling and recycling solutions are tremendous since more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious.”
Most Popular Products: Keychains, bookends and clocks. Customers like the minimalist design approach to these products.
Find Them Here: www.theupcycleco.com
Uma DotC is an upcyclist of one-of-a-kind museum for sustainability, namely Suseum, from where her passion for upcycling started. “UpcycleIt was started in August 2014. It is all about making new products from useless objects or waste we throw. UpcycleIt helps you to contribute to establish a new economic model, to decrease your carbon foot print. For the amount of waste you throw, we provide you a solution. I had made many upcycled products from waste and also conducted many workshops for kids on waste management, as it’s easy to change the behaviour of kids than adults.”
Uma works with various waste materials from home, like paper, plastic bottle, fabric, vessels etc., basically anything that is useless. UpcycleIt is company that does not sell products, but try to create awareness among people and give them ideas to make products, through DIYs and workshops, which she conducts on a regular basis.
Most Popular Products: Plastic water bottles covered with Jute and made as containers. Though they don’t sell products, but this particular upcycling product they made with waste was liked by all.
Find Them Here: upcycleit.in, UpcycleIT Facebook
Tariq Merchant initially started creating stuff for his home and then gradually went on to make customized gift orders with bottle art for his colleagues and friends. “Then I realised there are people selling similar stuff at flea markets and online, and I wanted to do something different, which is when I started making customised, affordable, up-cycled, refurbished, furniture and home décor,” says Merchant, adding that it is the need of the hour to be able to re-use, re-create, re-design, salvage and not produce more than what we need to consume.
Up-PSYcled was started in March 2015. Merchant works with a lot of salvaged wood, metal, electrical waste and rubber/plastic that he buys/picks up from junk yards. “A few of the products I've made apart from the restaurant and office spaces I design are coffee mug racks using wood, chandeliers using old cycle rims and tires and the whole cycle as well, pendant lights, wall lights, chairs, stools, coffee tables, ottomans, planters and a swing set,” he shares.
Most Popular Products: Tire ottomans
Find Them Here: Up-PSYcled Facebook and Instagram
Looking for quirky products like jewelry made from various seeds, purses made from milk packets or tetra-packs, and notebooks made from cork, etc, Goli Soda is the store for you. Started by Sruti Harihara Subramanianin 2013, Goli Soda is a retail space that primarily focuses on re-using, featuring products that are up-cycled, organic, environmentally friendly, locally sourced and more importantly are aimed consciously at making our lives better and safer.
It all started when a young, very determined Sruti wanted to start a terrace garden. “Ideally, the next thing to say here is that one thing lead to another and then I ended up with probably the first upcycling concept store in South India. We do not manufacture any of the products, we source them from various designers across Indian who are into upcycling,” she says.
At Goli Soda, you will find clocks, piggy banks, and stationary holder by Accidental Art, albums, cards, door hangers, popsicle, note books, magnets, gift tags by Haathi Chaap, products made from tyres for bags and wallets, wallets made from milk packets and chips packets, notebooks made from cork by Green The Gap, plantable seeds and plantable cards by Jellabi, among others.
Most Popular Products: Products from Haathi Chaap and Eco leatherette.
Find Them Here: At their brick and mortar stores in Chennai. Also at their newly launched website - golisodastore.com
Founded in May 2015 by three friends – Shobha Nair, Pradeep Nair and Denzil D'Souza – uByld aims to promote the Do It Yourself (DIY) furniture concept in India, and also the adoption of upcycled wood furniture. “Our first inspiration came when we realised that urban families hardly have any constructive activities to do together. Most of them are limited to visiting malls, movies and on the rare occasion playing a board game. We envisioned a time when we resourceful Indians could instead use our innate ingenuity and creativity to 'byld' an awesome piece of furniture and connect with each other while actually making something that would last for a long, long time,” says D’Souza, further adding, “The three of us, with small town/semi urban backgrounds, have always been sensitised to reusing, upcycling and conserving. We decided that apart from a sense of achievement and satisfaction from the DIY aspect our venture had to be about eco-friendliness, about conservation. And therefore, we zeroed in on re-purposing and upcycling wood for our furniture.”
From small cutlery holders to designer dining sets and king-size cots, all their products are made with 100% upcycled wood, and are handcrafted by a team of expert Vishwakarma craftsmen, who have been trained on the concept of DIY and usage of upcycled wood. “We work with solid upcycled pine wood. Our wood comes from European shipping pallets, which are heat treated and kiln dried at source. These pallets are imported by larger European corporates to house their raw material. Once the goods are unpacked by these corporates, we, through our vendors, bid for the wood. After a quality check we bring it to our facility for crafting,” he adds.
Most Popular Products: From their DIY range - Elly (tray shelf), Bloom (coffee table), Pride (center table) and Ease (easy chair). And from the pre-assembled catalog - dining sets, range of affordable cots and chests/trunks
Find Them Here: www.fb.com/uByld, firstname.lastname@example.org