Siklo Upcycle GSNow here’s a fashion statement  with a worthwhile message of: “Save the Earth”.  Using garbage, toxic garbage at that, and turning it into a thing of beauty, worthy to be displayed and called fashion is a stroke of genius with a heart.  Bags, belt bags, back packs,  jewelry, belts for Indie chic or bohemian fashionistas are now available thru Siklo Pilipinas. You can find their cool products at Legaspi Sunday Market every Sunday from 7am to 2pm located at Legaspi St., Legaspi Village, Makati City.   GThey are also available at the DTI-NCR Metro Festival 2013, Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm which will be held until March at the DTI Bldg., BDT Showroom, Buendia Ave. Ext. corner Makati Avenue besides Petron Gas DTI, Buendia.

GWhen companies do their part to help the environment is one wonderful thing but when companies are created  to help the environment then profit from it is a whole new ball game.  Siklo Pilipinas was conceptualized on that basis.  Why not do business and help the environment at the same time?  That’s what business couple, Lyndon  and Clarice De Villa- Ecuacion decided to do with their artistic talents and their love for nature.  Both happen to be avid mountaineers whGo appreciate the earth’s beauty and the value of its preservation.  Aside from making use of difficult to dispose of toxic materials such as tires, the company is also providing jobs for undergraduates.  Clarice De Villa- Ecuacion, co-owner of Siklo Pilipinas, openly shares her company’s beginnings and vision for the future:

Did you position your company to be pro-environment when you started?  What inspired you to take on environment as your advocacy?

G“Wherever humans trudge there will be trash, or put another way,  humans trash the environment.  We are avid backpackers, since college days, where we learned to respect nature.  The mountaineering slogan “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” has  become our habit wherever we go . . . from the mountains of Mindanao to the remote islands of Polillo.  When we get home, our backpacks were always filled with personal trash instead of souvenirs. Doing that for more than a decade, I can say we are pro-environment and so is Siklo Pilipinas“.

How did you learn about using old tires as part of your designs?

G“We started this upcycling venture in 2011.  In my research for an eco-project for our local store,  I came across  tire rubber which is a stubborn trash to decay. We shared ideas with my designer husband on what we can do with this material.  Every night, for like a month we brainstormed then finally we got excited over the feasible ideas we came up with.

The first time we tested our product in Legaspi Sunday Market, we were asked if we could export our designs to Europe.  We were encouraged and  inspired to work harder.

GWith a designer available 24/7, we begun accommodating customer suggestions and personalized their specific needs. We started with bicycle panniers until our product line grew into bags.  My husband would comment  that the work was  enslaving and very demanding but yet it was a welcome creative challenge.

We were also elated to finally find a solution to waterproofing and gear protection for our backpacking adventure trips to the 7,100 islands.  It’s more fun going green!”

Could you explain the difference between upcycling and recycling?  Does it cost more to upcycle than recycle?

G“If I am to differentiate between Upcycling and Recycling in my own terms: Upcycling has very low carbon footprint in manufacturing a product and usually involves more people in the process.  Recycling, on the other hand, has usually more carbon footprint in the process  of making a new product with more energy and machines.  But I think recycling has lesser cost involved as the process of extracting raw materials from nature (logging, mining) is significantly reduced.  Upcycling and Recycling have totally different manufacturing processes: in Recycling,  you dictate the materials but in Upcycling the material dictates you.

GSiklo Pilipinas maintains the innate form of the raw material but we learned from experience that  used materials are never the same so  we need to subjecting it to standard manufacturing processes. Since it does not yield 100% success, we translate this to cost.  I guess that’s why Upcycled products are low in supply compared to Recycled ones.  Recycling is like a tricycle whereas Upcycling is more of a bicycle.  Imagine how much more  effort  you put  to ride uphill, that will translate to added labor cost.”

What other waste products will you consider upcycling in the future?

GTire rubber is a sustainable material for upcycling.  A customer who is a retired Australian World Bank official shared to us that in his several years of work at the Waste Management program in South East Asia,  he believe tire trash is more problematic than plastic.  He said that if you bury it 2 meters underground, it will always pop-out  after some time and still be a tire.   With this encouragement from him  and many others, our conviction to work on this stubborn material remains strong.  However, we will continue exploring for other non-organic materials that are preferably tougher than tire rubber yet health-safe for the lifestyle industry.   Who knows, we just might be able to do justice to scrap plastic as well.”

What are your top selling products?

G“We were truly amazed by how people reacted to our products.  Several government  officials, as well as private institutions, offered  financial support to our endeavors.

It’s funny to think that the most sought after items we have is my calling card.

Seriously, we have observed the following buying trends of our customers:   Most Filipinos are attracted to our Indy satchel series, usually from young sports-minded professionals down to younger teens and even kids!  But there were more foreigner kids though than local Pinoys.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAMost foreigners and balikbayans prefer our inner-tube bag series.  Filipinos from the upper income bracket are also strong buyers of our inner-tube bags.  We speculate that perhaps they are more environmentally aware.  One thing we are so pleased about  is that people from all walks of life and stature always express appreciation over what we are doing.  This simply means that Siklo Pilipinas is able to connect to the call of our times.”

Being creative with disposable materials, applying it in business may just be the new business trend.  Making profit where everyone will benefit in the long run is not a bad way to do business.  Take it from Siklo Pilipinas.