What is upcycling?
Upcycling has become one of the leading trends in the circular economy in recent years. This technique is based on the recovery of used materials to create higher quality pieces from them. Simply speaking: we take something that’s old and useless and turn it into something new and useful.
Due to the limited availability of used materials, and the limited ways they can be upcycled, each upcycled product is essentially authentic and often one of a kind. It is a counter movement to the mass produced and industrialized products that are flooding the markets and causing immense damage to our environment. Upcycling is a statement for a more holistic way of living.
Through upcycling and recycling we can connect the end of one product's life with the beginning of another product's life. This creates a circular motion to our economy and mimics life cycles that we know from nature, because in nature there is no waste! Everything gets decomposed, reused and recycled.
Circular economy is hence much more than an economic model, it is a philosophy. In order for us to step into a circular way of life we’d first need to build the necessary awareness. We’d need to understand that everything we produce comes from somewhere and needs to end up somewhere. Hence, we’d need to build structures that close the gap between beginning and end, taking inspiration from the natural world around us. Finally, creating a fully sustainable cycle of (product-) life.
At EMEKA we have integrated methods of upcycling to create clothing that is truly circular. We start where other clothing ends and we bridge the gap between waste and the reinvention of waste. In many ways, our outfits are trash, and we are proud of that.
Simultaneously, we are creating job opportunities for local craftsmen in Kenya and Ghana. Producing in Africa is not always easy, but we firmly believe that the continent and its people have a lot to offer to the world; even more than that, we think the global north can learn a great deal from the global south when it comes to sustainability practices.
All in all, sustainability is a vast field. Currently there is no way of being fully sustainable and fully circular. Products are being shipped around the world, chemicals are being used, carbon is being emitted. No matter how hard you try, it is very likely that your actions are having some form of negative footprint on the world. And it will take some time until we have collectively come to a state of environmental equilibrium. But it is necessary for us to keep inventing new methods, new enterprises, new ways of living that lead us towards a more sustainable and greener future! It is a long way, but at least we are heading in the right direction.