Recycled with Style

July 10, 2008 at 11:29 pm 1 comment

Earrings from Bottled Up Designs- Made From Recycled Glass

Why designers and artists are eager to utilize recycled materials

Stylish Escama Clutch Bag- Made from Recycled Aluminum Tabs

Stylish Escama Clutch Bag- Made from Recycled Aluminum Tabs

America Ferrera as "Ugly Betty" carrying a Rebaz Tote

America Ferrera as "Ugly Betty" carrying a Rebaz Tote


Recycling materials and transforming them into fashion accessories is a win-win situation.  Designers and artisans who work with recycled materials are taking a product at the end of its useful life and turning it into a usable raw material to make another product.   As a consumer, you are helping the environment when you support businesses that manufacture clothing and accessories made from recycled materials.

How are you helping?  Scientists are noting our planet’s landfills are filling at an alarming rate; many of the materials filling these landfills will remain for thousands of years.  And the consequences will be disastrous if we do not follow basic recycling principles.  Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials- and preserving our resources.   It reduces air and water pollution along with energy usage. 

The consumer in turn is rewarded by acquiring a quality product that is unique and well made.  Products made from recycled materials are often handcrafted and manufactured by a fair trade organization that provides a fair wage and favorable working conditions for their workers.  

Celebrities and fashionistas alike are spotted everywhere donning everything from bags made from recycled juice boxes, plastic bags or rubber tires to earrings made from old mason jars and Clorox bottles. As more and more of us are beginning to follow the green movement, designers are creating fantastic well crafted pieces fashion consumers will enjoy for generations to come.  Making treasures out of trash has come a long way. 


Here are some of my favorite recycled fashion pics:


Vy & Elle Bags– Made from PVC Vinyl (Recycled Vinyl Billboards)

An average person will spot hundreds of billboards with advertisements made of PVC vinyl each day.  When these billboards are no longer needed, they are discarded into landfills where they create toxic pollution. Upset by this wasteful practice, Nicola Freegard and Robin Janson founded Vy & Elle in 2002 in order to transform this landfill-bound material into durable and vibrant products. The strength of PVC vinyl makes it an ideal material for reuse, and because of the different images printed on the vinyl, it’s even more interesting as a fabric. The material offers colorful graphics that take urban art into everyday living. Each bag and accessory item Vy & Elle makes is unique: with random colors and designs, every product made is different, offering a chance to carry a piece of art on a shoulder, in a pocketbook or in the home.


Rebagz from Half the Sky DesignsMade from recycled juice boxes

Moms everywhere love the convenience of disposable juice boxes. The square boxes used for liquids are called “Aseptics”.  Aseptics are made from complex layers of plastic, metal and paper. The aseptic industry has spent millions in public education on the issue of aseptic recycling. However, the actual recycling process is very expensive and awkward, and is therefore only available in a very few places.  Fortunately, a group of enterprising women in the Philippines have found a way to incorporate this awkward material into fabulous designs.  They cut the juice packs into strips, fold and weave them together to create some very cool stuff! Well-made, vibrant, fashionable and functional are just some of the ways to describe these water-resistant handmade creations. Rebagz is a line of bright durable totes, packs, handbags and wallets made from recycled juice packs and nylon rice sacks.

Escama Bags- Made from Aluminum Tabs

These elegant and eye catching pieces are all made from recycled aluminum tabs. Based in San Francisco, Escama Studio works directly with two Brazilian craft cooperatives – Cia do Lacre and As Panteras do Lacre – to design and produce these sleek, modern pieces using traditional crochet techniques and recycled aluminum pull-tabs. Escama Studio believes that the world’s abundance of ‘junk’ offers a lot of creative potential.  Did you know that recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy cost of processing new aluminum?

Sold at

Bottled Up DesignsJewelry made from recycled glass

Why use recycled glass?  The manufacture of glass uses energy in the extraction and transportation of the raw materials, and during processing, as materials have to be heated together to a very high temperature. Large amounts of fuel are used and the combustion of these fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas. Glass can be recycled indefinitely as part of a simple but hugely beneficial process, as its structure does not deteriorate when reprocessed.

The artisans at Bottle Up Designs polish and mold the recycled glass to eliminate any sharp edges. The glass is then skillfully mounted in delicate spirals of sterling hoops to produce enchanting pendants and earrings that catch the light with every move! Each pendant is strung onto a simple contemporary round neck cord made from recycled rubber tires. Each piece comes with the Story of the Glass, so the artist includes a card with each selection relating the approximate age and original use of the antique glass. The Amber Square Pendant & Earrings hail from the broken remains of antique Clorox bottles!  The vivid deep blue color of the Antique Cobalt Glass Square Pendant & Earrings comes from the broken remains of old Noxema bottles!


Maasai Beaded Necklaces– made with recycled paper beads

The young women from the Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya (TEMAK) use a combination of handmade paper beads and Maasai glass seed beads to string fun, colorful jewelry. TEMAK, a Fair Trade organization, trains young women in life skills and craft making to support themselves and their families. Using recycled materials such as magazine, calendar & brochure pages, tin cans and wire taken from car engines, each artisan develops her own unique style that is apparent in each piece of jewelry. The paper is cut into triangles then rolled to form the beads—wide, short strips for narrow beads & long, thin strips for chunky beads. Applying a high-gloss varnish as a finish, each recycled paper bead looks like polished stone or wood! It’s amazing! Some necklaces have matching beads but most are mixed with an array of muted colors as you can see by the images.


Entry filed under: Eco Fashion.

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