Upcycling, Eh?

Photo by re-modern.com | flickr.com

Everywhere I go, I keep seeing more and more upcycled products. For those unfamiliar with the term, you’ve probably seen an upcycled good before. Upcycling is the process of taking a waste product and reusing it in order to make something of equal or greater function (check out my May 2011 post for more details!). People usually get these products as gifts from their cool aunt or best friend that went to an exotic trip in the summer. Upcycled bags, wallets, pencil cases, flip flops, door mats ... the list of this eco-chic merchandise is slowly growing. And lucky for us north of the border, some Canadian companies are joining in on the trend!

Inspired by upcycled bags she had seen from Switzerland, Melissa Richardson founded her company Totem, in 2009. Taking in used materials such as promotional advertising banners, vinyl transport truck trailer tarps, automobile seatbelts and bicycle innertubes from local suppliers, Totem produces multiple kinds of laptop sleeves, tote and messenger bags. Aside from their eye catching appearance, these products are also incredibly eco-friendly as they make use of highly wasteful materials like vinyl, rubber and nylon. Additionally, due to the variability in the materials that Totem takes in, each bag that is produced is individually created and unique. Richardson has also made a number of corporate relationships with companies looking to become more eco-conscious by donating materials and to enjoy the added benefit of an advertising boost! With bags being sold in Toronto, Oakville, Whistler and Montreal, these upcycled beauties have eco-wishlist written all over them. Check out http://www.totembags.ca/ for more details.

Established in 2001, Montreal based Atelier Entre-Peaux has a wide variety of upcycled wallets, card holders, laptop sleeves, placemats, purses and bags. Started by founder Maude Léonard, the company aims to produce the most environmentally responsible products by using a maximum amount of upcycled materials. Using old advertising materials as its supplies, Atelier Entre-Peaux has diverted over 8.5 tons of waste since 2008. Each good created is scrutinized for quality as the company believes that sustainable development requires sustainable products. Similar to Totem, Atelier Entre-Peaux currently works with 10 businesses and municipalities to take in supplies for its production. With a beautiful range of products being sold in over 30 stores across the province of Quebec, Atelier Entre-Peaux’s products are another must have for all the environmentally friendly fashionistas out there. For more information, see their website at http://aep-ecoshopping.com/.        

Graydon Simmons