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The Recycle Warehouse- Business against climate change 28.11.08

Recycled Beds

The Recycle Warehouse is an online department store that is championing the environment and fighting climate change. Their object is to be the next John Lewis, except that every item at The Recycle Warehouse is made from recycled materials says founder John Halladay.

John who launched the Recycled Warehouse this year is a local green activist in Surry and a Board Member of Friends of the Earth, Thr Recycled Warehouse is a natural entrepreneurial extension of his commitment to ecological principals.

‘By buying from us, you are relieving pressure on the world’s diminishing resources. Our inventory includes chairs made from recycled cardboard, shoes from recycled tyres and whole dining services made from recycled glass and much more.’

Six months after its launch The Recycle Warehouse displays hundreds of items –

‘…about 400 at the moment, still increasing, all of which are made predominantly or wholly from recycled materials. We have a rule that the items must have at least 50% recycled content but most are much higher.’

Although it is a distinction that John doesn’t make on the website his goods fall into two categories. On the one hand it is easy to see what some of his things originally were. Take a footstool made from recycled tyres, the tread is clearly visible around the edge. It’s funky and loud and a real conversation piece.

‘This is taking something which had a defined use and subverting it into something that is functionally completely different. On the other hand, some of our furniture or our tableware bears no relationship to the original use to which its raw material was put. People can make a statement – I’m a hardcore environmentalist: look at my wastebin, it’s made from crisp packets! But they can buy a bed or dining table that’s made to their own design from reclaimed timber by a professional craftsman, that doesn’t look any different to a conventional, well-crafted piece.’

‘Our goal is to show that every day goods can be made from recycled materials and that they are just as good as new. As well as the quirky – bags made from chewing gum wrappers or ringpulls, bowls made out of remoulded LP records – we have beautiful, functional furniture that is handmade from reclaimed wood, including oak and teak which you just can’t buy any more in a sustainable way; designer clothes made from recycled fabrics, that can’t be bought in any High Street shops.’ Many of the goods on sale through The Recycle Warehouse are made by charities.

‘Doy Bags are one of the best known manufacturers in the recycling market. Made by a women’s collective in The Philippines, their bags are colourful and exciting, woven from reclaimed fruit juice packs. We supply garden furniture made by a charity in Oxford that employs people with learning disabilities, and we support other charities in various parts of the world.’

It’s a quirky site that makes its environmental message clear on every page and it isn’t above being dogmatic about climate change. This isn’t just about profit.

At The Recycle Warehouse they have simple principles:

• sustainability comes first, profit comes second;

• business has to lead the way in the war against climate change;

• recycling is an alternative to the exploitation of the world’s finite resources

• this isn’t commerce, this is a Crusade.

Peter Shield

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