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Upcycling Industrial Solid Waste to Glorious Items


Industries all around produce large amounts of waste and do not always know how to deal with it, while artists and designers are always on the lookout of sourcing new materials for inspiration. So, what’s the best idea? Bring them together and create something that one could have never imagined.

When waste is transformed into art this is called upcycling. While recycling involves transforming materials, upcycling involves taking waste and changing its function.

As far as industrial waste is concerned we picture waste tires, tubes, scrap metal, furniture, appliances and vehicles, construction debris and so on. After use, these usually end up in landfill which as a result affects the environment. Therefore, upcycling these wastes would mean avoiding this and conceiving something creative with a new life!

Speaking about creativity, a lot of things can be crafted and produced from such waste that is visually stunning and practical as well. It’s only natural that companies and brands who care about the environment would be inspired to come up with out-of-the-box ideas of upcycling that save the planet.

For instance, if you ever thought that fire-hoses where only limited to bring down the fire, bicycle chains are just for the pedals, bike inner tubes for the tires, airplane tires for take-off and landing or skateboards well for only skating, then sorry to burst your bubble because these items when discarded after use can emerge as something else that is completely different from its previous look and role.

For over a decade Elvis & Kresse has been rescuing all of London's retired fire-hose by creatively handcrafting them into sustainable luxury bags and accessories. Every year since the brand has donated 50% of the profits from the Fire-hose Collection to The Fire Fighters Charity.

Among the popular pieces include The Weekend bag is made from genuine decommissioned fire-hose and the lining is made from material rescued from Burberry's Yorkshire workshop. As described, the wide mouth opening of the bag makes packing, unpacking and searching very easy and the generous sizing means you can take everything you need for a weekend away. The bag has an easy access external pocket, an internal zip pocket, and 3 further internal poacher-style pockets.

Another classy and standout piece is the Wrap-Around Cufflink. Handmade to order from genuine decommissioned fire-hose that was previously deployed in active duty for up to 25 years, fighting fires around the UK. This traditional cufflink looks great with all styles of shirt and the hand-stitched detailing brings out the best in the hose.

Sleek in design and practical, Alchemy Goods approaches the modern way of upcycling old materials such as bicycle tires and advertising banter into bags and accessories. Their top-selling Ballard belt has silver stitching and is made from reclaimed bike tubes. A bicycle tube, as described is mainly made of Butyl rubber which is a very elastic and airtight synthetic rubber that can stretch. The belt is created in such a way where one tube is wrapped around another to create four layers of rubber. The silver stitching on it allows the belt to stretch just enough for comfort, but at the same time, the rubber construction ensures the belt won't stretch out permanently over time.

“Compelled by objects that influence creativity,” Champ Co. uses recycled airplane tire and new rubber, to create unique placemats of various sizes and some very distinctive contemporary jewelry pieces such as bangles and earrings. And the best fact about these products is that if they bend, lay them on a flat surface in the sun for half an hour to get back the original shape!

The Hookey Bangles that come in two sizes, large and small are flexible to get onto the hand and have a firm or relaxed fit and the eye-catching earrings such as Eyes on YouTwo Tone Super Light HoopSunrise Hoops,  Goal Keeper HoopsDrop Earrings or the Simple Studs all have high-grade surgical steel posts and findings. While the geometric placemats from the same material function as trivets or coasters encourage tessellating shapes for everyone to play with.

Another quirky jewelry that is crafted from used and broken skateboard decks is the DWC Bracelet-Octagon from Deadwood Creative. The brand saves the many skateboard decks that end up in trash and handcrafts unique and usable objects. The eight cornered bangles are made with a water-based non-toxic clear coat to help protect and keep colors vibrant. 

Aside from jewelry ever thought that bicycle parts can be used to make clocks? At Tread and Pedals Upcycling Studio, something like a punctured bike inner tube, cog or a wonky wheel is collected and transformed into something quirky through crafting it and recycling it in an unexpected way. The products are diverse and range from highly polished bicycle chain cufflinks to delicately crafted inner tube jewelry and statement bicycle wheel clocks such as the Roter ClockDesk Clock-Bike Chain or even the Candle Holder.

On the whole, think zero-waste and begin to use such creatively thought out products where you don’t have to sacrifice quality to fulfill your responsibility in saving the planet!