Recycling hasn’t completely caught on in the Philippines, despite the country being one of the leading sources of plastic trash. It’s a pity because sustainable living is one of the ways in which Filipinos can save the environment. Enter the owners of Siklo Pilipinas, a brand of upcycled bags made from tire innertube containers.
Siklo is the brainchild of Lyndon and Clarice Ecuacion, adventure-seekers who have been going around the Philippines since 2000. They were on a far-flung island when they first thought of Siklo.
Coconuts Manila caught up with the couple via e-mail. Here’s what they have to say about their unique brand.
How did you start the company?
It was an inspiring 2012. When we introduced upcycled innertube bags at the Legaspi Sunday Market in Makati, we were sold out. Market-goers who noticed our bags were excited to see more designs until we are compelled to create a brand name. To make it official, as well as requisite to become a regular vendor to this popular weekend market, we registered it at the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) as well as at the IPO (Intellectual Property Office).
Why did you use these raw materials?
The use of discarded tire innertube for our bags was primarily motivated by the attribute of the material. Innertubes are used for load-bearing vehicles like trailer trucks. It is designed to withstand pressure. It is thermal; it can survive a wide range of temperatures from frigid Arctic environments to burning hot inside the tires in the highways of the Middle East. No doubt, it is waterproof. If air cannot escape, how much so for water? And it’s all over the place; [it’s] a very sustainable material.
Tell us about your customer’s feedback.
Our customers recognized the magnitude of our endeavors. They are very appreciative of the ingenuity and functionality and throw support by using our brand and spreading the message. Inner tube rubber is an uncommon material for fashion and perfect to make a statement for an eco-ethical lifestyle. A large percentage of our customers have several Siklo bags in their collections. Their patronage helps us become sustainable.
What makes upcycling necessary?
Let’s put it this way. Upcycling is just an initiative for alternative trash management with its own vast limitations. It cannot solve the global garbage crisis. However, it can inspire anyone to look into one’s personal environmental footprint and say “Hey, how much did I really contribute to polluting this planet that survives me?” Creative ways of repurposing our society’s lifestyle trash are very powerful media. It can inspire us to improve our attitude towards the environment. It can make us be more conscious of the environmental cost of our personal lifestyle. Upcycling is responsible and using upcycled products has a greater sense of purpose beyond aesthetics. It is meaningful.
Any advice for fellow Filipinos?
Be with nature once in a while and if not solo, preferably in a very small intimate group of not more than three. Just get there, spend time, and admire. It is a very effective way in reassessing our values.
We learn from all the years of our trips to secluded places that if you appear vulnerable, everyone is there to offer help. Filipinos are very nurturing. It is in our genes to take care of strangers. People in remote places are exceptionally warm and welcoming and the best part is you find Nature there.
This interview has been slightly edited for grammar and clarity.
This article, The Art of Upcycling: How Siklo’s bags have made quite a splash, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.