November 2019

Upcycling’s Dramatic Uptick

Turning trash into art gains momentum, energizing a passionate market.

As concern for the environment becomes more serious and more mainstream, a growing number of consumers demand that companies and brands be held accountable for their actions. Brands have responded with creative ways to upcycle waste–creating artistic and useful products that not only help the environment, but also create jobs and inspire “feel good” creative expression.

Retail & Consumer Trends

Public awareness is driving consumer behavior.

  • 96% of consumers are “concerned” and 63% are “very concerned” about the amount of plastic waste going into the ocean.
  • Plastic in the ocean is estimated at 150 million tons and will outweigh fish by 2050 if nothing is done about it.
  • Over 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day.
  • The average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles a year that goes to landfills.
  • More than 2/3 of Americans consider sustainability when making a purchase and are willing to pay more for it.
  • Research from Pennsylvania State University suggests that showing consumers what recycled materials can become is more likely to increase their recycling habit.

Product Highlights

Alchemy Goods Ballard Belt
Where the rubber meets the…waist? This top-selling Ballard Belt is made from reclaimed bicycle tire inner tubes–four layers worth! The rubber stretches within the limits of the stitching, but won’t stretch out permanently over time.
Hamilton Perkins Earth Bag
Upcycled plastic from 16 water bottles never looked better. Plus, this sleek, earth-friendly bag is lined with nearly one yard of vinyl from reclaimed billboards–making each bag water-repellant and entirely unique.
Tokens & Icons Date Nail Cuff Links
Cuff links hand-milled from authentic railroad date nails–what’s old is new again. Railroad ties used to have installation dates nailed into them, making each tie unique with varying degrees of wear…for YOU to wear!
Tokens & Icons Instrument Bottle

Openers Retired guitar fretboards and piano keys make amazing bottle openers. Thanks to the uniqueness of the instruments, each opener varies in color, shape, and personality.

Repurposed Bike Chain Coasters

These wooden coasters are wrapped with upcycled bicycle chains collected from local shops and cleaned with a natural degreaser. Each bike chain has a story, so each coaster has its own color and texture.

Ankole Horn Cocktail Tumblers

Ankole cows are native to East Africa, and each horn is sourced ethically as a food industry by-product. Designed and produced by Ugandan artisans, each piece is made from locally sourced, recycled materials and varies in pattern and color, making each piece a work of art.

TrashAmps Mason Jar Speaker
This earth-friendly speaker fits inside any wide-mouth Mason jar. Listen to music from your smartphone by connecting via Bluetooth or auxillary cable (for older devices). Portable, compact speaker has 10+ hours of battery life and reaches full charge in about 3 hours.

Data Sources

Gartner Iconoculture;; CGS 2019 U.S Consumer Sustainability Survey; Council for Textile Recycling;;;


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