In a linear economy, raw materials are extracted from the earth and transformed into products that often have a short life span – causing the whole cycle to start again.
The circular economy, however, completely changes our approach and relationship to material items: nothing is treated as waste and instead is treated as a commodity that can be reused or remade into a usable item.
The Ellen McArthur Foundation defines the Circular Economy as ‘decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system’. This means completely rethinking our approach to materials and treating nothing as waste, instead creating products that can be reused time and again, until they can eventually be upcycled or recycled into something new.
We don’t need to wait for new durable items to be made to partake in the circular economy. This week, let’s look at some incredible local businesses that are upcycling materials that would otherwise go to landfill.
Originating in Perth, Western Australia, ONYA creates recyclable and reusable shopping bags, produce bags, backpacks, bin liners and household products. ONYA looks at multiple ways consumers can reduce single-use plastic from their lives. For instance, their Reusable Bulk Food Bag Set is made from BPA free, food-safe recycled plastic drink bottles, which can be taken to stores to fill up with flour, rice nuts or sugar, instead of purchasing individual plastic bags for each.
Deadly Denim was founded by Rebecca Rickard, a Ballardong Whadjuk woman from the Nyungar nation living and working in Perth W.A.. Deadly Denim uses recycled jackets to create new denim clothing pieces such as skirts, dresses, totes, short sleeve shirts and jackets. Each can be customised with a unique textile showcasing Indigenous artists and their designs. All of the smaller scraps of these stunning textiles are donated to a local sewing group in a local women’s correction facility. Where a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women learn to sew and create amazing storybook animals for a children’s program.
Byebyelove was started by Heike and Jeanine, two creative women based in Auckland. Their aim is to rescue unwanted items that have been collecting dust in garages, storage units or forgotten corners of the house. Heike and Jeanine take old furniture, and create one-off designs either on commission or on spec to give new life to the furnishings.
Upcycled Glasswear transform ordinary bottles that would be destined for landfill into bespoke pieces. Based in Sydney, and founded by a yogi and a local artist, Upcycled Glassware takes waste bottles and upcycles them into products which people would happily integrate into their homes, allowing the greater community to be a part of a “solution tribe”.
The ReCreators is a Social Enterprise based in Auckland, New Zealand, which promotes upcycling by learning to do it yourself (DIY) through community workshops. Re-Creators is run by a diverse collective of upcycling creatives who tutor, design and manufacture. There’s a variety of upcycling workshops for children, adults and corporates, as well as an online store.