Because throwing away would be a waste, German outdoor outfitter Vaude recently launched its Upcycling Community: a marketplace that facilitates the exchange between creatives and "resource producers" who want to jointly develop new recycling options for raw materials. The project is funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU).
For the launch of the Upcycling Community, Vaude invited about 80 guests from corporates, schools, colleges and numerous creative people to the company headquarters in Tettnang, close to Lake Constance. The Upcycling Community was presented by Vaude and by partner companies from various industries: Tarienna (a product service provider), mbk Maschinenbau (mechanical engineering), advertising agency FFI and trade fair construction company e.Konzept. The event also aimed at the exchange between creatives and companies that produce valuable recyclables on a daily basis.
As a first step, the initiative started with the procurement of waste material boxes on Facebook. Here, the Community also displays information about the topic of upcycling in order to inspire others to become sustainable as well. In the long term, the founders want to develop the platform further to be able to respond to user needs better. According to the initiators, ideally this would mean the creation of a cycle, beginning with the supply of waste materials. The buyer would then makes new products out of them to finally show them to other community members who in turn could then purchase them.
The idea for founding an upcycling community arose after the opening of the Vaude Upcycling Workshop, in which refugees sew fashionable shopper bags in Vaude’s factory.
Even before the project launch, Vaude joined forces with other companies that are passionate about "upcycling" and that want to campaign together for lower waste volumes. The main idea is a material exchange project that should also serve as brainstorming platform for new upcycling products and cooperations. Antje von Dewitz, Vaude’s CEO, emphasised in her welcome speech the importance of closing product cycles and increasing the life span of each product. The Upcycling Community is part of Vaude’s holistic sustainability concept and shows the company’s responsibility toward human beings and nature, she said. But this is not easy. "Sustainability is a team sport! To close cycles and take full responsibility for future generations, we have to work together, exchange ideas and develop alternatives together!"
Mark Joachim of Tarienna also emphasised: "Our vision of an upcycling community is to bring those together who want to improve the world, ensure a simple and cheap exchange of resources and to facilitate the establishment of sustainable start-ups!"
This article was originally written for FashionUnited.de. Translated and edited by Simone Preuss.