Upcycling opening doors for new green businesses

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We've all heard it a million times, but is there a better option? Traditionally, materials that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill have been mostly recycled as a less significant part of something else. There's a new eco-friendly trend in town though, and with it, old products are turned into new and improved goods by what's come to be known as "upcycling."

While recycling is a great way to reuse a material, the process of breaking it down requires a lot of energy. On the other hand, upcycling is the process of converting an item into something much nicer with far less energy consumption, and it's opening the doors for a lot of new businesses.

One of these start-ups is the Portland, Oregon-based Looptworks, which was founded in 2009 by Gary Peck, Jim Stutts and CEO Scott Hamlin, whose email signature reads, "Did you know that it requires more than 400 gallons of water to make one organic cotton T-shirt? Upcycle," according to Entrepreneur Magazine.

And because of that, he and his partners found a way to make eco-friendly apparel and accessories using what they call "pre-consumer excess," or extra textile material from other manufacturers that would have been thrown out. With these scraps, they've made environmentally friendly products that range from laptop cases to hoodies and skirts.

"Our goal is to influence consumer awareness and figure out a way to promote this non-mass-produced approach on a large scale," Hamlin told the magazine.

Looptworks' CEO added that his business has avoided using some 16 million gallons of water that would have been needed to produce the clothing and gear in tradition factories.

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