In our increasingly consumerist world where items are purchased with rabid hunger only to be discarded as landfill in a blink of an eye – it’s wonderful to meet people like Erica Louise, co-founder of Recycled Market.
Q. What led you to feel concerned about modern society’s propensity for over-consumption and waste?
We are constantly bombarded with advertisements encouraging our thirst to buy new products, when the reality is; there is an abundance of products and materials already in existence.
|Zebra sculpture made from recycled flip-flops that have washed up onto the beaches of Kenya by Ethical Gifts|
I have been involved with wildlife conservation and community development projects around the world for approximately a decade, in which I have experienced first hand how developing countries and the environment are impacted by our fast-paced consumer driven society. Our seas are polluted with plastic, and our land is filled with litter, at a pace which is just not sustainable.
Being passionate about the environment, I feel it is important and necessary to utilise existing materials, or at least buy and find recycled products whenever possible, which reduces the need for us to continue to utilise our fragile natural resources.
|Button Dollies are funky necklaces made from recycled buttons by Button Design Arts|
Q. While registered in Australia, Recycled Market is open to sellers worldwide. Where are the majority of your sellers located? Why do you think this is the case?
Recycled Market sellers come from all over the world; Israel, Greece, Estonia, UK, USA, Thailand, France, Italy, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Cambodia, and many more which have registered their stores ready to sell their products. We do find a majority of sellers are Australian based at this stage, probably because most of our press coverage has been concentrated on local shores. We believe over time the demographic of our clientele will change, as more individuals become aware of Recycled Market, and its concept.
|Anja Boots in Blue Birds made from recycled Hmong embroidery and batik by Siamese Dream Design|
Q. The items you design and make yourself are absolutely gorgeous! Where do you look for creative inspiration?
Thank you! A lot of my own inspiration comes from:
- The internet – pinterest is a constant source of inspiration for craft ideas;
- Fashion trends worn on the streets of the world, which can be replicated using recycled materials; and
- Colours found in nature. Mother Nature’s eye for colour combinations work, so I like to try to replicate her colour schemes into my own designs
|Jungle Fabric Crayon Roll by Recycled Fashion (Erica Louise) – made from material created using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles!|
Q. What was one of the most surprising recycled items you’ve ever come across?
On our own site, we have neck bow-ties made from recycled soda cans, upcycled vinyl records cut into the coolest clocks, and jewellery made from bubble wrap!
|This bow tie made from recycled cans by Creative Thinking gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “looking sharp” ;o)|
Elsewhere, the most surprising recycled items could be a collection of dresses made from recycled, used Starbucks gifts cards, and iMac Macquarium’s; iMac units, repurposed into fish aquariums.
Q. What advice would you give to designers who are interested in becoming more sustainable?
Before heading out to your nearest craft shop, fabric, haberdashery or hardware store, head to your nearest Opportunity Shop (Thrift Store/Charity Shop), flea market, car boot sale, recycle centre, or join up with your local freecycle community. You will find an abundance of materials to work with, which are often a lot cheaper, and unique that what you’ll find in your mainstream craft supply store.
|“Downtown in Chinatown” upcycled and refashioned vintage top by Sans Pareil|
Q. Do you feel that Australians are becoming more aware of the importance of lightening their own ecological footprints?
On a smaller scale, yes. More people are conscious to recycle their litter appropriately, and individuals shunning away from larger chains, choosing to buy local produce, organic and fair trade is on the rise.
|Miss Mai purse made from upholstery fabric by Lydra|
However, on a larger scale, there is still a lot of work to do. Not everyone understands the impact just one person can have on the environment with their consuming choices.