Meraky: Upcycling Your Morning Cup of Coffee Into The Hottest Ethical-Fashion Accessory
Growing up I’ve always been a strong advocate for Mama Earth. I don’t know if it was watching Fern Gully (remember how good that movie was?) or planting trees with my third grade class (thanks Mrs. Gorena!) or what, but for as long as I can remember I’ve prided myself on being an eco-warrior. I lived by the eco-warriors code: reduce, reuse, recycle.
No matter the obstacles, I found a solution to live by my principals. I once carried 5 glass bottles and 3 aluminum cans home, by hand, while walking from one end of Brooklyn because I found out the restaurant we were eating at didn’t recycle. Your girl was legit.
For years I went along my merry way, not using straws, reusing old t shirts for rags, and most importantly recycling anything that could be recycled. Because as long as I made sure to throw my cardboard in the blue bin, I was good, right?
Oh man, I was so wrong about this. Turns out recycling isn’t some magic solution that will fix our waste problem. While I still love recycling and we should all continue to do it, the truth is recycling isn’t perfect and in fact can lull us into a false sense of complacency.
We’ve been taught to sort our waste by material and then quickly forget about it. But it’s not that simple. Like everything I explore here on the blog this shit is complex.
Just because you put something into the recycling bin doesn’t mean it gets recycled. Depending on your municipality only 60-80 percent of what you try to recycle is actually recyclable. This happens for a whole host of reasons.
Plastic bags for example are notoriously tough to recycle. While the plastic itself is technically recyclable because they’re so thin and wiley they jam up the sorting machines and force workers to stop the waste processing and clear the machine by hand. That kind of time lost is just not worth for these facilities who opt to throw out the plastic bags rather than have them clog up an entire system.**
Used food containers are another big problem with pizza boxes being the worst culprit. Even though every pizza box will have a recyclable symbol on it, if it’s used it can’t actually be recycled. The grease from the pizza soaks in and renders the cardboard useless. Such a bummer! I hate associating anything negative with pizza but thems the breaks.
Lastly, can you guess what foil coffee bags, juice boxes, and your chinese takeout box all have in common? None of them can be recycled. Why? Because they’re all made of mixed materials that can’t be separated. Juice boxes and paper food and drink containers are made of paper, but coated with a very thin layer of plastic to keep the water from leaking through. The foil coffee bag you buy at your local coffee shop or grocery store is a combination of tin foil and plastic. While both these things can be recycled separately, they become permanent waste when sandwiched together.
It feels fairly reasonable to ask people to stop buying single use paper plates and cups, but changing their coffee habits? I don’t feel like being shanked so I’m going to pass on that one.
While many companies are switching to paper bags at my local grocery store I spotted no less than 17 varieties of foil bags. That’s a lot of waste that’s going straight into a landfill.
So now what?
Bear with me while I go on a tangent for a sec, I promise it’ll make sense.
One of the things I love most and art is its ability to transform the ugliest of situations. That is the job of the artist. To transcend the meanness of life and come closer to the sacredness of the divine. Art is what makes the every day bearable.
This Italian brand takes the long history of Italian craftsmanship and uses it to transform foil coffee bags into a beautiful and heavenly smelling handbag. Each one is woven by hand and combines different colored foil coffee bags to create an intriguing pattern that catches the eye and makes the viewer pause to admire it.
I’m not being hyperbolic here, I know this from my own experience. When I use my Meraky bag people stop me and ask about. They’re curious about it’s sheen and texture, it’s familiar and yet foreign to them. They often ask me if they can run their hands across it. This is when with a smirk I ask them to guess what it’s made from.
It’s an understatement to say people are stunned when I say coffee foil bags, but their eyes practically pop out of their heads when I tell them why the designers chose to use foil bags in the first place.
“THEY CAN’T BE RECYCLED?!”
As we part, I can see their mind try to wrap itself around this new information. My bag has not only saved trash from going into a landfill it’s also changed a stranger’s perspective. They’re going to take this new insight with them and share this knowledge with friends and family. Just carrying my handbag down the street creates a ripple effect that will long outlive me. That my eco-warriors is art in action.
** take your plastic bags to a grocery store instead. They can recycle them for you