Will-I-Am’s Upcycled Ekocycle

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of Will.I.Am? A slightly shorter guy who produces mega pop hits? Who was regularly seen tapping on his phone on The Voice  – live on air? Or do you think of a guy who is actively trying to make sustainable living infinitely cooler? To the latter, probably not. But that’s exactly what Mr. Am is doing at the moment. He’s teamed up with The Coca-Cola Company (probably not the first brand you’d think of as being very eco-friendly) to create Ekocycle, a brand initiative designed to support a more sustainable environment, by identifying today’s trash and figuring out a way to turn it into tomorrow’s treasure.

On Coca-Cola’s blog, they freely admit that a Coke bottle used to be just that – a Coke bottle. An elegant bottle, sure, but one look at it would simply make you think of ice cubes clinking in a glass and a ridiculously refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day. Now, Coke bottles are being thought of – amongst other things, like aluminium cans – in a completely different way: as a potentially limitless source of plastic with more uses than you could ever imagine, including in 3D printing.

One of the main take-away messages from Ekocycle is that upcycling can be chic. Not only that, but it can be super-chic, designer-esque, fashion-forward and all of the other adjectives you’d use to describe Karl Lagerfeld’s latest line. Upcycled stuff doesn’t have to look like upcycled stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, in seeing the journey of a product and being able to tell what it used to be from what it is today, but it’s good to know that upcycled fashion and jewellery can look just as fantastic as “normal” fashion and jewellery – and this could mean that it appeals to a wider audience, which is what Ekocycle are all about: making sustainable living cool.

Ekocycle have their fingers in a number of pies, so to speak. They’re involved in tons of projects and are doing a lot of really great things – they sponsored the recent Millenial Train project, whereby forward thinkers and the names-you-haven’t-heard-of-yet-but-soon-will brainstorm lots of clever things – and work with a number of brands and fashion houses to help them create products out of reclaimed materials. They even have a shop selling some pretty cool stuff, including sharp suits upcycled from 8 plastic bottles – yes, really – bowties, caps, Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and shirts with plenty of swagger. All containing material from plastic bottles.

Although we have no idea how they do it, the classic Coca-Cola stamp is on everything – not from branding, though, but through the colour choice: red, black and white. Perhaps our favourite futuristic product is the Ekocycle 3D Printer. We’ve been seeing a lot about 3D printers recently but what makes this one different is that it uses recycled plastic cartridges, so that you can repurpose old Coke bottles into a fabulous new bracelet, phone case or lampshade. In your very own home. Pretty cool, right?

As Will.I.Am says, maybe an end can be a new start.

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