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  • Writer's pictureJoJo

6 Brands Using Recycled Materials

I can’t lie to you gentle readers (mostly because I’m a terrible liar), my making activities have been somewhat dull of late. Since my last ‘makes’ post I have been making batches of scrubs for the Scrub Hub charity that has been providing scrubs to places that have struggled to get them during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s worthy stuff but not the most fascinating in terms of exciting blog posts about sewing interesting things.

So this week I thought I’d take the time to shout out some other makers, who are also being creative with materials and turning trash into treasures. It’s really inspiring to me to see other people choosing to create their products from materials that would otherwise go to waste. In this short list you’ll find innovative ways to use everything from old climbing ropes to discarded windbreaks. I’m not sponsored by any of these (honestly, what a waste of money that would be) and I’m not getting any freebies for including anyone. The motivation behind this is simply to give an encouraging round of applause to people using their skills and creativity for good. And maybe inspire some of you to make your new year’s resolution to be more conscious of what you’re buying and throwing away. It's worth considering whether what you're about to chuck in the bin really is totally useless after all.

The obvious themes in this list are climbing, dogs, and gin. I’m nothing if not predictable. Below you will find the Instagram account and website for each company as well as my favourite item from their selection. Let’s get started!

Dirtbags (@dirt_bags)

Like me, Dirtbags was born and raised in the Lake District. They do wonders with old climbing gear, especially rope, that has reached the end of its time on the rock. They’re mission is to reuse things that would otherwise have been thrown away and teach people to think differently before putting stuff in the bin. Dirtbags’ shop is chock full of beautiful chalk bags, bouldering buckets, belts, bracelets, and little rugs predominantly made from old climbing rope but also repurposed fabric and other bits of climbing and outdoor gear. If you're interested in learning more about how they make their products, there's an extremely interesting section on their website detailing their partnership with Berghaus. Here they talk about how many items they can make from each beyond-repair jacket or pair of trousers that Berghaus sends them and exactly how they use all the different bits of these garments. The nerdy seamstress in me found this absolutely fascinating.

JoJo's favourite:

Butterknife chalk bag because it looks like a cute little bee.

Dirtbags climbing chalk bag made of old rope

Dyno Dog Gear (@dyno.doggear)

These lovely leads are so simple but really pleasing to the eye. At first, you just think it’s a standard dog lead and then, oh heck, what’s that, it’s a climbing rope! They also make collars but it’s the leads that I think are really lovely. Rest assured, as soon as Amber’s current lead falls apart (or we get another galgo) I will be buying one of these. Based in Scotland, each lead is made to order in your own personally chosen length and colour so your doggo can look outdoorsy and handsome at the crag while supporting an eco-friendly business.

JoJo's favourite:

Recycled rope lead with a carabiner because who doesn’t love a chunk carabiner?

Dog lead made of a climbing rope by Dyno Dog Gear

Oh Give Me A Break (

OK, this one caught my eye because they have a pointy dog called Monty and, as we all know, I’m a sucker for a pointy dog. But it's not just about the cute dog in the dinosaur costume. The material of choice for this brand are discarded windbreaks. I will be honest again and admit that I didn’t know that ‘windbreak’ was the word for those usually brightly coloured sheets of plastic that people prop up on sticks around their claimed area of the beach. I’d seen the item but never known what to call it. But it’s a windbreak and Oh Give Me A Break turn them into lovely bags for your days out at the beach and generally adventuring. They’re based in St Ives, Cornwall and began after the influx of staycationers that descended on the beaches of England after lockdown left a load of crap in their wake. This really is an inspiring way to clean up our beaches and they also donate 10% of their profits to the Sea Life Trust.

JoJo's favourite:

Chubby west travel/beach bag because I love a bag that’s chunky enough to carry a lot of stuff, including a small pointy dog.

Beach bags made from windbreaks by Oh Give Me A Break modeled by Monty

Paguro (@paguroupcycle)

I can definitely vouch for the excellent quality of this brand as I’ve been casually trashing one of their bags for a couple of years now. Their main items are bags of all shapes and sizes, but they also make jewellery, belts, dog collars, and homeware. Materials of choice include discarded inner tubes, army tents, electrical wire, and even whiskey barrels. They have a small group of designers working together to showcase their wonderful individuality and craftsmanship and I can definitely recommend their work.

JoJo's favourite:

Ranger duffel gym bag because I bought it and I love it. Mine is a slightly different colour to the one in the link above but it’s very tough, has plenty of pockets and space for all my climbing gear, and is pleasingly resistant to chalk, which is my main criteria in a climbing bag.

Duffel bag made by Paguro

SmoothEdge Upcycling Company (@smoothedge_)

Many of you may know that my drink of choice is a gin and tonic. This brand caught my eye because they turn empty gin (and other drinks) bottles into jewellery and glasses. Gin seems to have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years (I certainly jumped on that particular band wagon) so there’s been plenty of bottles around to use in innovative ways. I like it when the upcycled items clearly look like the original materials so you can see what they used to be and the glasses in this shop are unmistakably beautiful former gin bottles. This shop shows that you can turn even the most ordinary day to day items into lovely upcycled things.

JoJo's favourite:

Bombay Sapphire gin drinking glass because that shade of blue is just lovely and synonymous with the joy of gin.

Recycled gin bottle glass made by SmoothEdge

Buttress and Snatch (@buttressandsnatch)

I have been casually perusing this website for quite some time and will eventually make up my mind about which beautiful pair of pants I want to bring into my life! But it’s pretty hard to choose from all the amazing stuff they make in their lovely Hackney workshop. Everything is made to order and to whatever size you need. They source their materials locally and have specific collections made from recycled items, including their Cut The Cotton line of bras and pants made from discarded shirts. The fast fashion industry is crap in so many ways, especially in terms of workers getting paid a pittance. I love that Buttress and Snatch are very upfront about the fact that they pay makers well and that they’re interested in doing things properly and charging appropriately.

JoJo's favourite:

Deeluxe detail extra fine recycled shirt boxers because I love a bit of patchwork and they look so frickin’ comfortable!

Recycled boxer shorts made of shirts by Buttress and Snatch

All the images used in this post are from the companies' websites/Etsy shops. Please check them out for more information on the photos and the products. Also, go buy their stuff.

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Jan 04, 2021

Cut the legs off and make shorts. You can hem the bottoms if you want to but everyone seems to be wearing artfully distressed jeans these days so you probably don't need to bother! Unless the existing holes are in regions that need covering up. In which case, makes shorts anyway then use the excess fabric as patches.


Dec 31, 2020

Any tips on what to do with torn up jeans when you are at most able to artfully patch a sock? And by 'artfully' I mean 'badly'

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