5 Ethical Style Projects That Might Just Inspire You To Reuse, Repurpose, And Reassess

Seen at Ambiente, an international trade show that showcases innovative designs and the latest trends in lifestyle products.

If you follow A Plus, you know we're passionate about brands with positive missions that aim to make the world a better, safer, and happier place. We're huge proponents of companies or individuals who advocate for sustainable development practices, safer working conditions, and empower marginalized groups. 

That's why when we checked out Ambiente, the largest consumer goods trade show in the world, this year, we were excited to see an entire category dedicated to ethical style. The category highlights products that are made sustainably with eco-friendly materials, employ fair production practices, are handmade, and/or use recycling in their design. 

The category was further indication that more and more people care about where their goods come from and how they're made. Whether you're producer or a consumer, it's time to focus on sustainable practices.

We wanted to do our part to highlight some of the ethical style brands that stood out at Ambiente this year.



1. The Punah Project

In Sanskrit, "punāh" means "again." The PUNĀH Project reassesses, reprocesses, and reworks waste into high-quality products. 

The project is run by Godrej & Boyce, one of the largest conglomerates in India, which produces over 20,000 tons of waste materials each year, according the project's website. However, the team at Godrej & Boyce is trying to reduce the waste materials they create by repurposing them. 

"These materials are generally down-cycled, sent to landfill and incinerators. Not only is this catastrophic for the environment but large quantities of materials that require highly sophisticated processes, copious amounts of energy and resources to get manufactured in the first place are wasted. Many of these materials have the potential to become a raw-material for other processes or products," the project's website says. "We look for simple solutions, keeping step-processes and energy consumption to a minimum whilst looking beyond conventional boundaries." 

They've transformed cotton gloves into chairs, jackets, and rugs, crimping pieces into shoes and bags, and synthetic graphite into tiles. The PUNĀH project shows how creativity and experimentation can result in developing something totally unique.

2. Little Tit

Using resin and acrylic on things like pine leaves and seeds, Little Tit's designer Agostina Laurenzano transforms natural elements into striking contemporary jewelry. Each one of her rings, necklaces, earrings, pins, and bracelets are statement pieces. Instead of completely repurposing the natural elements she uses as many other artists do, she works with the original piece and applies a glossy coat of resin or acrylic to enhance it. The resulting jewelry feels fairy-like like to us. 

"All of my pieces are born from a totally natural and organic base such as leaves, cereal, seed, wood, stones, etcetera. They are then painted by hand, with the intention of distorting their origin, confusing the viewer, and generating a kind of impressionism," she told A Plus. "Once painted, they are covered with acrylic, [making] them durable. Respecting its original dimensions enables the viewer to finally associate the element with its true origin."

Thanks to working with individualistic character of each natural element base, each piece of Little Tit jewelry is unique. Laurenzano has no intention of altering this handmade, 

"I always present them as a product which I do not think it is possible to industrialize. Working by a matrix would not be obtain the same result," she said. "My intention in working this way is to generate personalized pieces, to deal with unconscious, compulsive consumption, and the competitiveness of acquisition among consumers." 

3. QANANI Project

The refugee crisis in Syria inspired designer Anna Banout to start the QANANI Project. The project helps to Syrian refugee women to capitalize on their manual skills and work to achieve financial independence. 

Because refugee camps have limited resources, Banout had to look for materials that would be readily available for these women. The women who participate in the QANANI project use PET bottles remaining in the camp and simple tools to creatively upcycle the waste. The plastic bottles are cut up into strips and then weaved into a variety of patterns over a mold. The project gives these women the opportunity to use their creativity to design objects while also repurposing waste that would end up in a landfill for centuries to come. 

"The aim of the project is to empower Syrian refugee women culturally, emotionally and also economically by designing a process allowing them to manufacture simple crafted objects that could be sold in European countries," Banout told A Plus. "QANANI project offers these women a way to generate a minimal income, reducing their dependence on humanitarian aid and therefore raising their self-esteem and providing them with emotional support needed in this difficult situation they have found themselves in." 

The women work to product objects such as baskets, lampshades, and spin top toys. "The chosen items are an example of basic needs represented by objects used everyday. We need light to live, we want to own things and surround ourselves with them, and, regardless of our age, we need to play and have fun," Banout wrote on her website. 

4. My Jeans

In his project My Jeans, designer Angelo Verga recycles his old jeans into memorable and unique accessories such as rings, brooches, and bags. 

"The material used is mainly silver and second hand jeans, my personal jeans, pressed and made solid thanks to a special technique developed after years of experience," Verga told A Plus. "In my work, I am inspired by the little things in my everyday life, so that's why I started cutting all the precious details that I retain interesting in my jeans. I found it very special to undress my jeans and give them a new life, exalting this beautiful material." 

Verga finds inspiration in all kinds of materials, even those not traditionally thought of as precious.

"All materials are valuable, simply because they have suffered the natural process of life, and wear. Every object that has lived a story, that has within it a memory, has value for me," he said.



5. Magic Craft

Magic Craft transforms plastic bottles into googly-eyed monsters with zippable mouths and storage capabilities. Each of their PET Bottle Purses creates a new use for two used, non-biodegradable bottles with some silly flair. Of course, they're great for kids, but they can also be a playful gift for a fun friend in need of a coin purse or a reason to laugh.

The best part about these little monsters is that they ethically manufactured and offer South African women a route to financial independence. 

"In the developed world a living wage is a normal expectation. Unfortunately, in the developing world, it is not. We are seeking to change that. The South African women who produce our products are paid a living wage. This works a little magic in improving the quality of their lives and the lives of their families," the Magic Craft website states. "The bottles used to produce our purses are sourced from waste streams that do not efficiently or sustainably dispose of their waste. Through designing a new product using waste, we are also designing a better waste stream." 

Magic Craft also offers a free step-by-step tutorial online in English, German, and Spanish so that anyone can build a a PET Bottle Purse. We think it would be a great way to bond with your kids while also teaching them about upcycling and reducing waste. 

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