January 20, 2010

The Upcycle, Recycle Business

 via: Flickr 

As much as we love technology, sometimes it's nice to just go back to the simple life of making use of what already exists. In consideration of how much waste we produce, whether it be food, clothes, packaging, or office supplies, recycling is something that we can all do a lot more of. And Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle, shows that you can also make a successful business out of it, too.

While as a business student at Princeton University, Szaky took leftover food from the school cafeteria and fed it to worms. Turning waste into rich fertilizer, he then sold it in discarded soda bottles. Flash forward five years, his humble business has turned into a global food and packaging recycling program with five warehouses across the US, and more in Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, and the UK. Working with some of US' biggest consumer companies, including Kraft, Mars, PepsiCo, Kimerly-Clark, and General Mills, TerraCycle boasts with over 100 products made from recycled trash. Circuit boards are redesigned as picture frames, juice packs are collected into making backpacks, and cookie wrappers are reworked as pencil cases.

As all industries strive toward greener practices, the future of recycling has become more innovative in developing creative, sustainable solutions. As we look even in the fashion industry, the exclusive Parisian fashion house, Maison Martin Margiela, has been doing it since the beginning of its career through the Artisanal Line, transforming every day objects into high-end couture. And the more commercial brand, Urban Outfitters, has offered reworked vintage clothing through their Urban Renewal line for over twenty years.

As environmental consciousness continues to rise in importance, the fashion industry has been more keen on the idea of recycling. Last April, Fendi threw a performance art-like event "Craft Punk", challenging designers to create objects, art, and furnishings using materials discarded from the Fendi production process. And just last month, Stefano Pilati of YSL released his second edition of the capsule collection "New Vintage", offering his classic silhouettes made from recycling unused fabrics from the YSL archive. There are also more smaller boutiques, like Clothespin and Reformation, both of which have opened this past year, offering a unique, stylish assortment of reworked vintage clothing.

From the runways to the shopping malls, recycling is becoming a common thread in the fashion industry. And as sustainability is essential to it's future success, we have no doubt that in the years ahead, the concept of recycling will continue to grow as it is taken to the next level. As for any industry, innovation does not necessarily mean high-tech; sometimes brilliance can be discovered in the ordinary.
Creative Commons License
MBF Trend Talk by MBF Trend Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at mbf-trendtalk.blogspot.com.