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Recycle, Upcycle, and Repurpose: A Designer’s Inspiration

repurposed jacket from remadeUSA

Repurposed Jacket from RemadeUSA

One leather jacket – torn, stained, unwearable. Maybe it’s even missing a sleeve. What do you do? Throw it in the garbage, right?

I mean, you would NEVER donate it because WHO would wear it? The same goes for one glove, one shoe, (lost, who knows where) an ink stained purse, a worn out satchel, etc…

Not so fast.

Before you condemn those leather goods for the trash pile, take pause. And get inspired by some of the most innovative repurposing designers out there today.

What is repurposing?

Repurposed Wallet by Peg Dry Goods

Repurposed Wallet by Peg Dry Goods

A modern term for an ancient practice, repurposing is finding new use for old items, or transforming something so that it can be used for a new and different purpose. There are thousands and thousands of inventive designers around the world who repurpose or “upcycle” by using found materials.

Let’s look at one leather jacket, for example.

One large jacket can be cut and made into a combination of:

Upcycled Leather Cuff by Long Shots Leather

Upcycled Leather Cuff by Long Shots Leather

  • 16-20 wrist bands for watches or leather bracelets (from just the sleeves)
  • 1 large leather purse (from the back) OR 3-4 clutch bags
  • 1-2 pair of leather shoes or slippers
  • 4-6 wallets (from the front panels)
  • 3-4 belts or sashes
  • 3-4 leather bindings for journals
Repurposed Leather Journal by Green Bird Press

Repurposed Leather Journal by Green Bird Press

And that’s just the obvious. Designers at companies like RemadeUSA ,or on Etsy and Pinterest, can testify to the inspiration one leather jacket can give to a host of imaginative artisans.

So…when you recycle, you are not just saving something from the landfills, you are UPcycling and giving raw materials to artists around the world. Go ahead, put that one shoe into the collection bin — it’s like giving clay to a sculptor.

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