Uplifting Local Communities Through Upcycling
For decades, individuals, groups, and businesses have struggled to lessen their contribution to the “trash crisis.”
With the continuous growth of our population, it would only be a matter of time before we reach peak garbage. But we don’t really have to go there, do we?
Many of you may be familiar with the 3 R’s of waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Well, upcycling is a different story, and it is said to have the ability to save our planet from dying soon. Upcycling is the process of using products we consider as waste and giving them a new life and higher value. Unlike recycling, this can be done without breaking down the components of a certain item, decreasing the amount of resources we need for production and the waste that we discard. By practicing this, we help heal our environment by cutting down on air and water pollution, landfill use, and even greenhouse gas emissions.
Nowadays, more brands are adopting this practice and we are incredibly proud to call them our vision partners:
Since it started in 2010, ANTHILL has continuously pursued a path to creativity and sustainability. Noticing the growth of textile waste from their end, they started practicing upcycling and circular fashion to champion ways to help the environment. With the Argao Weaving Community as their partner, they were able to upcycle 2.5 kilos of scrap handwoven fabrics for every meter of new upcycled or zero-waste weave. Honoring the beauty and craft of weaving and giving value to Mother Earth, they launched their first zero-waste clothing collection called “PAMANA.”
“From trash to treasure!” That is NVC Foundation’s battle cry when dealing with the big monster of garbage polluting the earth. Over the years, they have relentlessly worked to reduce waste by upcycling coffee capsules to produce earrings, ornaments, and mosaic napkin rings to utilizing broken ceramic tiles, pulverized eggshells, and sometimes broken capiz shells to create unique pieces. Recently, they also made use of scraps from 17,040 PPE gowns that they made and distributed to medical front liners to produce the “Star of Hope.” Time and time again, they have always proven that upcycling cannot only bring out the most charming and elegant pieces that you can wear and design your homes with, but it can also help the environment.
The upcycling journey of Zapateria began in 2019 when all-around designer, Maco Custodio, sought its help in creating his comeback shoe collection. Using materials such as hand-woven scraps of pre-consumed foil, the Lalapatos collection came to fruition. From then, Zapateria has continued to collaborate with shoemakers and designers to promote the importance of upcycling through the products they put out. One example would be their casual sneaker named “Gomer,” which was created with upcycled bicycle interior and cartier rubbers, all locally sourced.
Two Chic’s answer to the amount of waste created by the fashion industry was to dig into their inventory and reuse scraps of old fabric and extra materials they had on hand. From using upcycled raw bias strips sewn into different designs to cutting up and stitching lace together from both current and old embroidered patches, their upcycled concept makes for fun and innovative designs. Last year, they partnered with ArteFino and launched a collection of dresses and blouses made with fabric scraps and embroidery materials. Their items are all made by the brand’s community of sewers, all of whom are the breadwinners for their respective families.
A storyteller of design, Risque Designs went beyond creativity and adopted environmental sustainability with the help of numerous communities in the country. Each exuberantly colored and designed footwear from Risque Designs are handmade using woven fabric and upcycled thread by the artisan weavers from the municipality of Buhi, Camarines Sur, and assembled by expert shoemakers from Marikina. With quarantine regulations in place, they recently started accepting made-to-orders of their home/bedroom slippers, using scraps of their local weaves to make staying at home more comfy and trendy.
Typhoons usually leave us a feeling of hopelessness, but Pulido has found a way to bring light to the darkness. Aside from empowering women and artisans, Pulido never forgets to show its dedication in preserving the beauty of creation by using reclaimed or upcycled wood in all of their pieces. They turn fallen branches and trunks into classic and elegant home decor and other essentials. After the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, they immediately went to work and started cleaning, scraping, sanding, and carving wooden materials into intricate pieces like charcuterie or serving boards, which are all perfect for the holidays.
The value of sustainability has always been at the forefront of Commonsense Studio, and you can see that through their upcycled products. From placemats and trays to desk organizers and planters, they made sure to creatively bring life to materials most people already consider as waste. To minimize carbon footprint, they have used scraps and off-cuts of building materials to create their famous home essentials like the Bilo-Bilo placemats. They also made use of discarded fabric scraps from clothing factories in Manila to produce the Loli Planter for all the plantitos and plantitas of Manila!
Adante Leyesa is a fashion designer who utilizes indigenous fabric consisting of scrap pieces from ANTHILL Fabric Gallery and other weaving communities all over the Philippines. These are then crafted and hand-stitched by some of the most dedicated and passionate women artisans from a community in Lipa, Batangas. He recently launched his BORO Series featuring unique and varying bag designs which are all made from upcycled denim and mixed with vintage fabrics.
As early as pre-school, we were taught the importance of proper waste management. Now, we can teach our young the value of upcycling with the story behind TenTwenty Kids’ adorable soft mini toys. All their toys are made of upcycled materials handcrafted with the help of their artisan-nanays in Rizal. Each toy is made sustainable and eco-friendly using upcycled fabrics and textile cut-offs, and stuffed with organic kapok stuffing.
Hands on Manila
One vision of Hands on Manila is to become leaders of innovative solutions, and that’s what they strive to do through their earth-friendly gift boxes and tags. Each item is crafted from seed paper that can be torn up and planted in pots of soil and watered so they will blossom into spinach! The boxes are fashioned out of 100% recycled paper and all materials used are sourced in the Philippines. This just goes to show how things that seem useless can still grow into something more beautiful and even edible!
We see properly-labeled trash bins everywhere, but with how fast the time is moving, simply disposing our trash in the right place won’t cut it. We need brands and larger entities to join and lead the movement. Upcycling is not only an opportunity for individuals to fulfill their mission as stewards of creation, it is also a chance for brands to step up and do even greater things for the environment and society as a whole.
Moving towards a more sustainable and circular economy could deliver countless benefits for brands such as decreasing pressure on the environment, stimulating innovation and craftsmanship, and providing livelihood opportunities for local communities in need. We can always do more for the environment, for our culture, and for our people. Upcycling is the new way, join the movement today.