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Upcyling: Cool New Products Made From Reused Materials

By May 30, 2018Sustainability

With consumers becoming more conscious of eco-friendly products and production, more companies are offering goods that have been upcycled—made from byproducts or unwanted materials that have been creatively reused. A phrase coined by William McDonough in one of my favorite books aptly titled, “The Upcycle,” Upcycling is a great way to practice sustainability, and in some cases, it even results in better supply-chain methods. From home furnishings to clothing and jewelry to the upholstery on car seats, upcycled products are available in a wide range of markets, and knowing about them can help you become a smarter consumer. Here are just a few:


The Swedish design company Offecct is passionate about sustainability, and its Lifecircle philosophy aims for a sustainable life cycle for its furniture, including complete control of its production process. Notes, the company’s colorful panels that serve as sound absorbers or room dividers, are made from scraps of textile waste.

sustainable recycled acoustic panels

Sound panels made from textile waste by Offecct.



The company Sword & Plough, owned by Veteran sisters, offers American-made products, many of which are repurposed from military surplus materials. A brass-bar necklace is hand-hammered from .50 caliber shell casing; the compact travel kit is constructed of 15 oz canvas and lined with the same waterproof fabric used in military patrol packs. Sword & Plough also uses recycled materials in its packaging, and 10% of profits go to veteran organizations. Supply-chain smarts: S&P accepts donations of old uniforms for its Limited Edition Uniform Tote.


A number of brands use upcycled materials that you may not even know about. Repreve, for example, is a material fiber made from plastic water bottles (#1 plastic—like a water bottle—shares the same chemistry makeup as polyester!). Ford Focus Electric and Ford Fusion cloth seats use sustainable fabric made from Repreve. Bottles recycled for the Fusion hybrid: 42.

The fabric used in the Ford Focus Electric is made with Repreve fiber.

Lovesac plans to utilize Repreve fiber in 100% of its Sactionals upholstery before the end of 2018…effectively rerouting millions of plastic bottles from the landfill, into Designed For Life furniture upholstery that can last decades.


Check out for more products and for ideas on how to upcycle yourself.


William McDonough’s, The Upcycle, is amongst three books that most inspired my development of the Designed For Life philosophy. I feel absolutely inspired by not only the book itself, but by Bill’s ongoing commitment to the cause, as he continues to provide consulting and design services complete with “Cradle-to-cradle” certification. Keep your eye out for official and unofficial upcycled products. Buy less, buy better.


About Shawn

Founder & CEO of Lovesac, a Designed For Life furniture company. I have a goal of building products that are truly sustainable. Would you believe, I won a $1 million investment on Fox’s “Rebel Billionaire” show in 2005 and became President of Virgin Worldwide with Richard Branson’s companies for a time. Since then, I've grown Lovesac into a national brand with over 150 showrooms and more than 1000 employees, recognized in Furniture Today as America’s fastest growing furniture retailer. I'm becoming known for my invention of Sactionals® Lovesac’s industry-disruptive sofa invention. Check out my vlog on YouTube! Get Off The Couch, with Shawn Nelson of Lovesac

One Comment

  • Laura Sommers says:

    Shawn… nice blog. I’m sharing this with our digital and social media team. Enjoyed our interview yesterday. Thanks, too, for the REPREVE shoutout! Laura Sommers

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