I love giving and receiving experiences but it’s not always the most suitable thing to give someone, and we need to have a diversity of waste reducing solutions because my preferences for a sustainable lifestyle are not going to be the same as the next person’s preferences for a sustainable lifestyle. So, why not give a gift made from ‘waste’ materials to reduce the environmental impact of owning stuff and support businesses transitioning to a circular economy?
Earlier this year, at Waste Expo Australia, I learnt about some circular economy businesses producing products that I thought would make great Christmas or birthday presents. Since then I’ve been looking around for more gift ideas made from discarded resources to share with you. Supporting businesses like the ones listed below is a good strategy for slowing down the current ‘take, make, dispose’ linear economy, meaning we can do more with less virgin resources. It will also drive innovation and aid the development of retrieval systems for ‘waste’ materials, and help build the mindset that there is no such thing as waste, only resources to tap into. But, what I really like about these examples is that they are actually things people want to use in their day to day lives. Take a look at these 14 waste-busting products and never forget you vote with your dollar (and that includes by limiting consumption).
1. Bureo Skateboard
Discarded fishing gear accounts for an estimated 10% of the oceans’ plastic pollution. The team at Bureo collect discarded fishing nets from the coast of Chile and recycle it into skateboards.Their recycling program, ‘Net Positiva’, provides fishing net collection points to keep the plastic fishing nets out of the ocean, protect wildlife and support local fishing communities through financial incentives. It’s a great story so check them out.
2. Bureo Sunglasses
Bureo also make sunglasses from recycled fish netting, using the same process described for their skateboards.
3. Samsara Surfboard
Since the 1950s, when people moved away from using local wood, making surboards has involved polyurethane foam blanks, fiberglass, and polyester resin. These materials are potentially hazardous to the individuals working with them, can contaminate the environment, and results in a product that goes to landfil at the end of it’s life. Samsara Surfboards in Warragul, Victoria is one of the first board makers in Australia to create more eco-friendly surfboards by using both bio-resin and recycled polystrene foam blanks. This combination dramatically reduces the amount of petroleum used in surfboard manufacture and recycles polystrene (the stuff that your TV, computer, or furniture comes packaged in).
Read more: Why Asking for a “Greener” Surfboard Really Matters and a Guide to ECOBOARD surfboards
4. BeeKeeper Backpack
Koky Saly came to Australia as a refugee when he was a child and has now created a business in Melbourne called BeeKeeper which makes and sells backpacks to help fund education and schools in Cambodia. BeeKeeper tackles the world’s massive textile waste issues by using high quality discarded shirts and textile before it reaches landfill to make the durable eco-friendly backpacks. People can also send old or unworn shirts to BeeKeeper to have the cloth pattern transformed into a backpack.
5. BeeKeeper iPad/Tablet Case
BeeKeeper also make iPad/Tablet cases using discard fabric and use the profits to enable students to access solar lamps for further study.
6. Adidas Sports Shoe
Adidas have partnered with an environmentalist organisation; Parley For the Ocean, to create a sneaker made from discarded fishing nets and plastic waste taken from the ocean. Some of these nets were actually confiscated from arrested illegal poachers. The lace, heel, cap base, heel webbing, heel lining, and sock liner cover of the shoe is made of 100% PET. Adidas are committed to creating a minimum of 1 million pairs by the end of 2017.
7. Looptworks Laptop Sleeve
Looptworks make a range of premium upcycled goods including neoprene laptop sleeves by rescuing excess premium materials from other businesses, like those that make wetsuits.
8. Looptworks Phone Case
Looptworks are also creating things like leather phone cases, clutches and bags from rescued leather.
9. Recycle Creative Wallet
Recycle Creative produces a range of accessories for men and women made by local artisans in northern Thailand from repurposed materials such as inner tubes from tyres, fabric offcuts and plastic packaging strips.
10. Recycle Creative Bags
I really am impressed by the range of beautiful carry bags and toiletry bags produced by Recycle Creative using inner tubes from tyres, fabric offcuts and plastic packaging strips.
11. MUD Jeans
MUD Jeans is based in the Neatherlands and is an inspiring example of how a business can close their own loop.The company has won several awards, including the Sustainability Leadership Award and the Peta Vegan Awards, and claims to be the only brand that works completely according to the principles of the circular economy. A key feature of MUD Jeans is that you don’t own your jeans, you lease them, and then return them when you wear them out or want to change styles. MUD Jeans sort the returned jeans to determine which can be directly re-leased, added to the vintage jeans collection, or have the cotton fibres recycled into new jeans. Additionally, the buttons are made from cotton, the tags are made from recycled paper, and they dont use leather tags. They also send their products with RePack, a returnable and reusable packaging.
12. Recycled Floor Mats
Recycled Mats sell rubber door mats made from discarded car tyres and recycled plastic floor mats are made from recycled Polypropylene, a plastic polymer found in medicine bottles, shopping bags, drink bottles, and carpet fibres. Recycled Mats use non toxic dyes, support their artists, and run their family business with sustainability in mind.
13. Local crafters and artists
Be sure to look around for local talent. There are many people out there with a passion for creating with recycled materials like wood, metal, fabric and more. Here are some examples by Mark Olsen Metal Creations located close to me.
14. Create your own circular economy gift
There’s nothing stopping you from creating your own upcycled gifts this Christmas and the opportunities are only limited by your imagination. There’s even a few upcycling projects on this blog that you might like to try:
- Homemade beeswax wraps
- Bread bags
- Produce bags
- Mop covers
- Cutlery wraps
- Homemade Paper Products
Please note I came across a number of clothing and swimwear brands using recycled plastic but after much thought I decided not to include them due to their potential to poison the food chain. Studies show that synthetic clothing releases synthetic microfibres with each wash and much like microbeads, when these end up in our waterways they can be easily consumed by wildlife and pass contaminants up the food chain, accumulating in concentration.
Read more: How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply
I’m really keen to discover more businesses upcycling materials and operating according to circular economy principles (especially Gippsland businesses) so please share what you know in the comments below.
For more tips on reducing waste this Christmas, read: 10 Tips for a less wasteful Christmas