We’re all familiar with the single use culture – i.e., we use something once and then discard into landfill.

Not just your plastic straws that ends up in the ocean but even the pair of jeans that you wore for 10 years and then discarded thinking no one else could wear it again.

You’re also well aware about the unsustainable growth of waste – whether it be plastic, food, electronic, textiles ending up in landfills that are at capacity – and you are making your best efforts to do something about it by working towards an zero waste lifestyle.


Like you, Organic Lifestyle is about finding solutions to these global, complex issues.

We believe in order to have radical impact, we need to move from a linear to a more circular economy .

i.e., to move away from a single purpose and then trashing it (linear) to a multiple use, circular economy.

As part of this transition, we’re going to feature our favourite upcycling projects that have inspired us.

Upcycling is the transformation from its original use to a new life

For instance, your 10 year old jeans could become home insulation instead of ending up in landfill.

Or, discarded cotton fabrics can be recycled into socks. We spoke with Esther Simera, Toronto based designer on why recycled cotton is important to her when sourcing recycled cotton versus growing (virgin) cotton?

Cotton is an extremely resource-intense crop in terms of water, pesticides and insecticides. This means that using recycled cotton can lead to significant savings of natural resources and reduce pollution from agriculture. Recycling one tonne of cotton can save 765 cubic metres (202,000 US gal) of water!


Clothing production can be re-imagined like Zero Waste Dan whose mantra is We make kick ass clothing that sends nothing to landfill.

  • New York, USA based

We make unique fashion pieces by applying the art of sewing to the scraps that abound due to fashion industry’s wasteful practices. by reimagining sewing we have also reinvented fabric

Nudnik: Children’s clothing made from recycled clothing.

  • Toronto, Canada based
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: Nudnik

What about waste hosiery?

Sans Soucie: is an award winning zero waste textile art + design studio specializing in transforming waste hosiery (pre-consumer manufacturing waste; castoff pantyhose, tights) into new textiles, garments, accessories and 3D forms

  • Vancouver, Canada Based

Regenerous Designs: Takes amazing designer fabrics, before they’re thrown away, and makes incredibly unique versatile accessories entirely by hand: Jewelry, scarves, and headbands.

  • California, USA based
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: Regenerous Designs

L/L Supply: apparel made from upcycled fashion industry waste materials.

  • Victoria, Canada based

Raeburn: clothing, jackets, and more made from surplus fabrics and garments.

  • UK based

Paganoonoo: Sells sewing instructions for home sewers guiding them through each step of upcycling garments.

Ecoalf: clothes made of recycled material.

  • Europe based


This is a topic near and dear to our heart given the love the ocean and it’s impact on marine life. We’ve written blogs on generating revenue from ocean plastic and happy to find industry finding creative ways of taking discard fish nets, high end furniture or plastic and give them value. I assume these would have a lower carbon footprint compared to making these same products from virgin materials.

Plastic Whale: The first professional plastic fishing company in the world. Makes high-end office furniture that is made from Amsterdam Canal Plastic

  • Europe based
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: Plastic Whale

Bureo: skate boards, glasses, clothes, games and more made from recycled fishing nets.

upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: Bureo

  • USA base

Sea2see: eyewear made of 100% up-cycled sea plastic.

  • Europe based


ecoBirdy– Children’s furniture made from 100% recycled children’s toys

  • Europe based


Recork: shoes, insoles, and more made from recycled corks from wine bottles.

  • USA and Canada base
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: ReCORK

Just be Woodsy: Takes urban trees destined for the chipper and makes beautiful furniture instead

  • Toronto, Canada base
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: Just be Woodsy


Brave Soles: are handmade leather shoes and accessories made with recycled tire soles and materials.

  • Toronto, Canada based
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: Brave Soles

People for Urban Progress: non profit that makes upcycled bags

  • USA based

Looptworks: upcycled bags, packs, accessories & apparel.

  • Portland, Oregon based

The Upcycle Movement: bags, cup holders, and more made from recycled material.

  • Ireland based


SUGA Mats: Premium yoga mats made entirely from recycled wetsuits and inspired by the California lifestyle.

  • California, USA based


While upcycling food in Toronto deserves its own blog post, we wanted to feature

Feed it Forward: non profit that collect food from partners that would typically end up in the landfill and sells it in their pay-what-you-can grocery store and also creates meals for needy families.

  • Toronto, Canada based

The Spent Goods Company: part of the Organic Lifestyle, we’ve spun off a company that transforms viable food by-products from the craft beer industry to feed people locally. For instance, we take barley grains used to make beer and make Beer bread and Beer crisps that are available for sale in your local stores.

  • Toronto, Canada based
upcycling toronto

Photo Credit: The Spent Goods Company

If you’d like to be on this list or recommend a like-minded business, please comment below.

Final thoughts, courtesy of Lynn Haughton of The Upcycle Movement:

It’s only waste if we waste its potential


A big thank you to Esther Simera for her invaluable insight on this topic.