William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle, defined “upcycling” (a term coined by Swiss archtect Walter Stahel) as creating useful products from waste materials. Upcycling helps to lessen the use of new, raw materials when making original products and, in turn, reduces energy use, air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Anyone can go to the store and buy the latest fashion craze or make something out of fresh, unused materials. But it takes artistic insight and a heart to save the planet, and to make beautiful items from things lying in a recycling bin or landfill. St. Louisans Samantha Miller and Rachel Shelton both display that creativity and passion… right here in the Gateway City.
Upcycled Accessories and More: Everything… S.A.M.
Samantha Miller’s love for upcycling all began at an Atlanta airport when she purchased a vibrant, multi-colored wallet made from candy wrappers. She was drawn to the inventive style of the accessory and wanted to do more. Miller combined her keen fashion sense and experience in business management and marketing to create her first upcycled handbag and business, Everything….S.A.M., which stands for Save All Materials.
“Fashion has always been a lifestyle (for me) not a learned trait. I believe you’ve reached a new level of ingenuity and style when you can take an used product that served its initial purpose and transform it into something completely different and fashion-worthy,” said Miller.
Everything…S.A.M. is an excellent showcase of common things reinvented into stunning, chic products. For example, Miller and her team hand-crochets over 1,600 recycled aluminum pull-tabs from soda cans to make lightweight messenger bags and create pillows and wine carriers from disregarded newspapers. Some of her other favorite materials to work with are pre-consumer (misprinted or defected) candy wrappers and seat belts.
“Our planet and its resources aren’t expendable and everlasting, and we can collectively become a huge force in teaching the next generation to save, refurbish, reuse and recycle used materials,” said Miller.
Everything…S.A.M. offers several convenient options to help do-it-yourselfers upcycle used items into something one-of-a-kind. They can custom make a handbag or accessory from materials of your choice, or you could buy product patterns and instructions to make at home. Or you could participate in a workshop to learn the entire process of upcycling materials. Lastly, Everything…S.A.M. and its team will come to your home or other location to host a party to give you and your friends exclusive tips and tricks to design and produce your own upcycled collection.
Look for part two of this series to read about another sustainable fashion designer and more creative ways to upcycle.
Image source: Everything…S.A.M.