Phelps in a Dress
With the 11th annual FINA World Swimming Championships just having come to a close, we thought it would be appropriate to share with you the exciting cross road that we've discovered between the swimming community and the upcycling community. You might be familiar with Michael Phelps’ astounding eight gold medal wins at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, China but do you remember what he was wearing? Speedo sure does. He was wearing the LZR Racer Full-Body and it was considered a revolutionary swimsuit technology. However, FINA banned the suit after Phelps’ overwhelming medal haul. Consequently, Speedo found themselves with an excess of unusable suits. Seemingly unusable suits? Seemingly unusable resources? Sounds like an upcycling challenge to me!
The London based sustainable fashion label, From Somewhere, recently took on Speedo’s challenge and created an entire high fashion line of dresses and gowns made out of the LZR Racer swimsuit. Most notably, From Somewhere, created the “Unity” gown, an exquisite and vibrant garment made from Speedo’s 2008 Olympic swimsuits.
I don’t know about you, but we're thrilled to see a worldwide commitment to sustainability. It’s exciting to see new materials being used in a fresh way. Who knows, maybe we will start cutting up old swim suits into headbands or braid the fabric into a rockstar statement piece even the Man Repeller could be proud of. The possibilities are endless …and that’s why we love upcycling so much!
I’m home for the holidays, which means that I’ve spent a good portion of the last few days trying to explain to my grandmother what upcycling is. I’ve shown her my post-punctured bicycle inner tube laptop case, bottle cap earrings, and scrap metal jewelry but all she keeps saying is, “Oh yes, we did that in the war, too.”
Upcycling is not new, we all know that. Upcycling is something that we have always done out of necessity or creativity but now, alas, it has a name. We call the act of turning trash into treasure “upcycling” and we have learned that we can make a living wage doing so. It’s an exciting time to be upcycling, it’s an environmentally conscious and positive contribution we are making to the world. However, my grandmother likes to remind me that her upcycling experience was not so glamorous.
During and after World War II upcycling was the way my grandmother could afford to have the products she longed for while living in a refugee camp. She told me of how she deconstructed a knit sweater and fashioned it into a bathing suit for the summer months. Then in the fall she would take her bathing suit and re-knit it into her winter sweater. What imagination! What innovation! It makes me think of The Sound of Music when Maria took old curtains and sewed them into play clothes for Captain Von Trapp’s children.
In the 1940s upcycling was an indication of social class. My grandmother said that making Christmas ornaments out of newspapers was embarrassing not an intelligent example of eco consciousness. Breathing life into post-consumer materials, my grandmother and I agree, no longer symbolizes a lack of resources but an abundance of resourcefulness and the upcycling aesthetic is one that we appreciate.
There are so many individuals who are taking upcycling into the future. I see small businesses emerging with such enthusiasm and drive who singlehandedly are making upcycling a magnetic industry and practice. Nothing makes me happier than to see people learning to consumer differently and more efficiently.
Up and out,
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define what it means to upcycle. Wikipedia defines it as: the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. We like to think of it more as the creative reuse of refuse, or, most simply, turning our garbage into something awesome!
So, we’ve defined upcycling, but what are our goals for Upcycled Online?
To start with, we want to leverage this site as an aggregate of all things upcycled, online. We will feature content from all over the web. If it’s being talked about on blogs, facebook, twitter or pintrest, we want to help you find it.
Secondly, we want to know about your do-it-yourself endeavors and we love to share our own. Have a guide you’ve created or one you just really like, send us a link.
Third, we want to make upcycling as available to you as possible. To do so, we have created a directory of upcycling manufacturers and upcycling friendly shops. With your help, we hope to continue to expand this directory to represent more places and to represent all place in more depth. In the future, we will be adding more directories for green trade shows and art fairs, crafters markets and upcycling related non profits.
Lastly, in our words from the nerds section. We will be talking about upcycling from all angles. We may comment on others content or post content ranging from upcycling history to local events, to new business ideas or whatever is interesting to us at the moment.
Eventually, we would like to host your words as well. Are you trying to earn a living upcycling? Share your successes and your foibles, and ask questions of the greater community. If you run a store or a booth, we would love to hear about that as well.
We are just in the process of becoming and exciting times lay ahead. Thanks for checking us out and please check back in soon.
Random musings, interviews and other prose...