BRAND BUY-BACK: A Look at Eco-Cycology

Photo from Creative Commons; Lydia_Shiningbrightly

In a culture of consumerism, the lifespan of a product tends to be short and linear. It is made, sold, bought and then very unceremoniously tossed in the trash when it has been determined unusable or simply unnecessary. That is why we are thrilled by a growing trend towards eco-cycology. has listed eco-cycology as the 4th biggest trend of 2012. While the concept isn’t necessarily new, its rise in a time of economic woes reveals that consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of the financial value of their goods beyond their typical lifespan. Brands are taking this sentiment to heart.

So, what is eco-cycology anyway? It is best described as the recycling and repurposing of old products by its original manufacturers. Way back in 1990, Nike broke ground on this scheme (somewhat literally) through its Reuse-A-Shoe Program. To date, Nike has collected over 25 million pairs of run-down shoes, which have then been ground up to create a material that is used to make athletic and playground surfaces, as well as fresh, new shoes.

One of our clients, outdoor goods brand, Patagonia, has reclaimed 45 tons of old clothing to make 35 tons of new products through its amazing Common Threads Initiative. Their commitment to this philosophy is also evident in their general business purchasing as well. Fairware developed custom USB drives for Patagonia out of recycled wood pallets to help the company cut down on its paper usage and share video product knowledge with its dealers.

In fact, we’ve been happy to work with numerous brands that are moving towards reusing old products. To promote its Environment Foundation, Aspen Snowmass had us use pre-loved employee ski uniforms to make fun ‘up-cycled’ totes and messenger bags. And for Aveda, we used bicycle inner tubes to make durable, recycled (and cool) makeup bags.

It is our hope that eco-cycology becomes the norm rather than a fleeting fad. The possibilities for repurposing old products are endless, and it’s a movement that really makes sense from every angle. Brands can cut down on their environmental impact and material costs when developing new products that are designed to be re-purposed. Customers can really feel good about what they are buying, knowing that their purchase has given new life.