The first time I saw upcycling in action, I did not know the word. It became part of my vocabulary in 2012. And then I started seeing it more frequently, but only years later before I would see it in relation to food. Now it is more mainstream, but this PBS news segment shocked me anyway, with the revelation of how much waste there is in the production of tofu. In my experience growing up in the USA, tofu was one of the first “green foods” on the market. Little did we know. Shock is sometimes followed by awe. Case in point: Renewal Mill is providing solutions to tofu production waste and other forms of food waste that seem obvious once you see them do it. But first, someone had to do it. I have not tasted their products yet but I am confident I would savor it on multiple dimensions.
The concept of upcycling has become a movement thanks to innovative and sustainable companies that divert our wasteful habits and produce other goods in order to recreate the cycle in nature: nothing goes to waste. An example of one of these companies in the clothing industry is Looptworks. The company only uses excess materials that would have otherwise been incinerated or ended up in landfills to create high-quality bags, accessories and apparel.
Co-founder Scott Hamlin noticed the issue of clothing material waste in the manufacturing process during the time he worked for a large outdoor apparel company.
“Thirty percent of our materials never actually got used in manufacturing,” Hamlin said of his prior work experience with an outdoor gear company. “To me, that was a huge issue that nobody was talking about. It was dealt with as ‘business as usual.’”
Our newspaper bag unit is a permanent, exciting work-in-progress. Using upcycled newspapers provides us with an alternative to plastic bags in our two shops at Cardamom County– the Raxa Collective store and the via kerala shop. It is also a way to work with more people in our community. We have been working at making this unit a sustainable entreprise with many collaborators since the beginnings of Raxa Collective in 2011.