Ukrainian brand Re-beau makes ac­ces­sories from used plas­tic, pro­motes re­cy­cling

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - WITH DARIA SHULZHENKO [email protected]

Trans­form­ing vinyl records into ear­rings, plas­tic sham­poo bot­tles into brooches and bot­tle caps into pedants — the Kyivbased brand Re-beau has found the key to make re­cy­cling not only good for the en­vi­ron­ment, but also fash­ion­able.

Launched in April 2018, the brand has al­ready re­cy­cled up to 10 kilo­grams of plas­tic to cre­ate its stylish ac­ces­sories and has sold nearly 150 of its items to the cus­tomers from all over Ukraine. Apart from that, sev­eral months af­ter its es­tab­lish­ment, Re-beau par­tic­i­pated at Ukrainian Fash­ion Week, pre­sent­ing its first col­lec­tion of ear­ings made from used plas­tic.

Maria Sorokina, 27, the founder of Re-beau, says that the idea of her brand is not to re­cy­cle as much as pos­si­ble, but to show peo­ple why plas­tic is a dan­ger to the en­vi­ron­ment, and why peo­ple should re­duce the amount of it they use in their ev­ery­day lives.

“Plas­tic is alien to the world, as it is an ab­so­lutely syn­thetic ma­te­rial that was in­vented by hu­mans,” Sorokina told the Kyiv Post.

“So the pros and cons of this ma­te­rial are that it is durable, and if it is not re­cy­cled or dis­posed of, it takes a very long time to de­com­pose, there­fore con­tam­i­nat­ing wa­ter and soil,” she said.

Sorokina says the name of the brand means “re­spon­si­ble beauty” as she be­lieves that the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion with the en­vi­ron­ment should push peo­ple to­wards re­spon­si­ble con­sump­tion, up­cy­cling and re­cy­cling ma­te­ri­als.

“It has be­come pos­si­ble to fol­low fash­ion and, at the same time, to buy goods made by brands that do not pol­lute the en­vi­ron­ment, but rather try to make it cleaner,” Sorokina says.

Re-beau cur­rently of­fers nearly eight types of ear­rings, each of a dif­fer­ent shape and color, as well as four types of brooches, and is about to launch the pro­duc­tion of pen­dants and neck­laces made from re­cy­cled plas­tic. All of the items are avail­able for pre-or­der, with prices rang­ing from Hr 100–300.

Other than that, Sorokina re­cently an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of “Wasted Val­ued,” an

on­line store, where she plans to sell only re­cy­cled and up­cy­cled prod­ucts, in­clud­ing ac­ces­sories, home decor and sou­venirs.

“I want tourists to be able to bring some­thing fun, beau­ti­ful and eco-friendly back from Kyiv,” Sorokina says.

Early steps

Hav­ing left her home­town in Donetsk Oblast in 2014 be­cause of Rus­sia’s war on Ukraine, Sorokina moved first to Kropy­vnyt­skyi, a city 330 kilo­me­ters south of Kyiv, and then to Ukraine’s cap­i­tal, where she started to sort her garbage, and no­ticed the huge amount of plas­tic bot­tles and pack­ag­ing she put into the trash bin.

“I thought it would be great to show that this ma­te­rial (plas­tic) can be re­cy­cled, and thus used in the econ­omy again,” Sorokina says.

Sorokina says she was in­spired by the say­ing “trash is trea­sure,” and a year be­fore es­tab­lish­ing her brand, she ex­per­i­mented with melt­ing waste plas­tic her­self, in or­der to ex­plore the process and how the ma­te­rial re­acted.

Even­tu­ally, Sorokina found a place she could trans­form into a work­shop, bought all the equip­ment needed to melt the plas­tic safely, and cre­ated her first eco-friendly ac­ces­sories — a pair of ear­rings in the shape of rain­drops.

Sorokina says, she picked a rain­drop shape for a rea­son, as she be­lieves that all the small steps peo­ple take to­wards mak­ing the en­vi­ron­ment cleaner are sim­i­lar to “drops in the ocean.”

“But ul­ti­mately, the ocean con­sists of drops, and our ev­ery ac­tion leads to what this ocean will be in the fu­ture,” Sorokina says.

Nowa­days, the rain­drop ear­rings, which come in dif­fer­ent col­ors, are one of the most pop­u­lar prod­ucts of­fered by Re-beau. But the brand also of­fers ear­rings in the shape of the light­ning flashes, semi­cir­cles and other ge­o­met­ri­cal forms, as well as brooches in shapes of uni­corns and tree leaves.

Re-beau cur­rently co­op­er­ates with three free­lancers, who help Sorokina pro­duce the ac­ces­sories. Sorokina says that the whole process of melt­ing plas­tic is fast and takes only about two hours. How­ever, she can spend hours look­ing for the right plas­tic to re­cy­cle, as not all types are com­pletely safe for re­cy­cling.

Re­spon­si­ble beauty

Sorokina says she does not add any col­or­ings to the plas­tic, as they may con­tain tox­ins. In­stead, she “hunts” for plas­tic bot­tles, caps and vinyl records that match the color she needs.

With the es­tab­lish­ment of the “No Waste Ukraine” re­cy­cling sta­tions, which ac­cept plas­tic, metal, wood, glass, clothes and pa­per, Sorokina’s work has be­come much eas­ier, as she can easily find color­ful bot­tles and other plas­tic goods there.

Sorokina, who is a strong sup- porter of a “green life­style” em­pha­sizes on the im­por­tance of sort­ing waste, point­ing out that Ukraine still does not have an ef­fec­tive waste man­age­ment.

“In this re­gard, the men­tal­ity of Ukraini­ans does not re­ally dif­fer from Eu­ro­peans or Amer­i­cans. If in Euro­pean coun­tries there were no con­di­tions and leg­is­la­tion on waste sort­ing, peo­ple wouldn’t sort their waste ei­ther,” Sorokina says.

Sorokina be­lieves that the au­thor­i­ties should in­crease garbage dis­posal tar­iffs or im­pose fines on those who fail to sort their garbage, there­fore mo­ti­vat­ing the pop­u­la­tion to do it.

“Only clear rules, which are set out in the law, can mo­ti­vate the pop­u­la­tion to sort their garbage,” Sorokina says.

That would make Sorokina’s job a lot eas­ier, while help­ing the en­vi­ron­ment as well.

And while Re-beau’s prod­ucts only re­cy­cle a small part of the city’s plas­tic waste, “the more brands that cre­ate goods from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, the bet­ter it be­comes for the en­vi­ron­ment,” Sorokina says. ■

Maria Sorokina, the founder of Kyiv-based brand Re-beau, which makes ac­ces­sories out of re­cy­cled plas­tic, poses for a pho­to­graph in Kyiv on March 13, 2019. Sorokina holds a vinyl record, which she used as a ma­te­rial to cre­ate the ear­rings she is wear­ing. (Oleg Pe­tra­siuk)

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