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From a firehose to a trendy bag – the business taking upcycling to the next level

12/04/2017 4:15 PM

Image: Piers and Joanne, founders of Upcycle Studio, at their showroom in Sydney. 

Hi Joanne, how did you come up with the idea of selling upcycled and sustainable products?

Throughout my years as a Homewares Buyer I came to understand that many designers and manufacturers were producing products with the bottom line being their number one priority. In most cases there was no thought process that involved the environment, no researching alternative sustainable materials, eco-efficient production processes or shipping methods. It was simply a matter of ‘How can we make it cheaper?’ or ‘How can we increase our margin?’ I continued to become more and more horrified at the excessive waste and disregard of eco-efficient design and production methods.  I knew there was a smarter way, I knew that we didn’t have to continue to burden on our planet of our excessive consumerism and I became determined to do something about it. The day that I made that decision was the day that Upcycle Studio was born.

I started with purely upcycled products on a simple website which has since grown into a cool showroom space in St Peters Precinct 75, a small kick-ass team of like minded people, and branched out into some really cool natural and reusable products.

What’s the philosophy behind Upcycle Studio?

Essentially Upcycling is a design solution to a global environmental problem, a form of Eco Design that not only minimises landfill but eliminates the need for manufacturing and consumption of new materials.

We all know what recycling means – generally we are breaking down a material or product into something for the same use or sometimes something of lesser value.

Upcycling on the other hand is a creative transformation of useless or discarded products into an entirely new product of higher value. The previous use of the product is often visible rather than hidden which gives upcycled products an eclectic and unique style of their own.

So with this is mind our philosophy is to live and help others who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, by looking after yourself, others and the planet. We believe in innovation and supporting people out there with the same values.

What are some of the most surprising things you’ve found that can be upcycled

We love all our products but the firehose bags and wallets, as well as the ring pull bags, are pretty crazy as you could actually miss that they are made from materials that have had another life. It’s really nice seeing people fall in love with the products for their design and quality and then fall in love with them even more when they realise they are upcycled.

Images: Upcycled Firehose Bag and Ring Pull Bag

What are your top five zero waste tips?  

  • Obviously upcycling is cool so get into it! Think creatively and start making stuff for yourself! You will be blown away with what is possible. Check out our blog for some great DIY upcycling projects you can try.
  • Buy good quality products that last. Sounds obvious but it’s really nice when you start thinking this way.
  • A reusable coffee cup, reusable water bottle and reusable shopping/produce bags are a must.
  • Small in size but a big difference over a life time – use bamboo toothbrushes over plastic.
  • Eat in or bring your lunch to work. See if you can avoid disposable single use plastic from takeaway food.

Click here to find out more about Upcycle Studio.