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27 Oct 2015
Beirut, Lebanon
Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

Waste is a brand created by two Lebanese designers seeking to create innovative and sustainable fashion. The company specializes in handcrafting quality bags, accessories, and furniture from advertising banners — which would otherwise end up in landfill. As an eco-friendly brand, Waste develops smart products that add value and reduce the environmental impact caused by plastic waste.

The story of Waste began in 2006 when two eco-oriented entrepreneurs, Marc Metni and Waleed Jad, created their very first bag using non-biodegradable advertising banner material. The designers had originally wanted to reduce the overuse of plastic bags, but one of their team members had more knowledge about vinyl banners and the negative ways in which they were being disposed. That is how they chose their main fabric medium.

“At the beginning it was more like a hobby,” says Metni, co-founder and general manager of Waste. “In 2012 we thought of how we could further develop the concept.” Metni says one of their initial challenges was finding an artisan workshop large enough to fit the huge billboard banners. That was when they decided to take a small bank loan and start their own workshop, bringing together tailors and designers in a collaborative environment.

Creative waste reduction:

Reducing the amount of waste in landfill has always been Waste’s main goal.

“We really save the natural resources, as the material we are using is damaging for the environment,” says Metni. “By reusing the banners, we are increasing its life cycle by several years.” When designers work on a product, Metni says they are asked to consider the waste generated even by scraps. Identifying every last area of waste is how the company minimizes the amount that ends up as trash. They encourage their customers to do the same: “for instance, our current product tag is also a bookmark, so people don’t throw it away. We always think about these things when producing our products,” Metni elaborates.

When vinyl banners become fashion statements | The Switchers

Since opening the doors on their workshop, Waste has come to produce more than just bags. It also creates tablet cases, bicycle bags, stools, and other handcrafted items, all with a signature burst of color and style. “Each piece is individually designed and 100% unique — the recycled material can never be repeated,” Metni says. Soon, Waste even plans to open its website to international shipping. They have also expanded the materials used: Waste’s products now incorporate inner tube material from bicycles, old car seat belts, and other materials found around the city.

Waste’s products are currently sold in different concept and department stores, and even some museums in Lebanon. The business also collaborates with companies with active corporate social responsibility (CSR) missions to design products using their own banners.

Caring for the community:

In addition to its environmental impact, Waste also has a social element.

Apart from the designers and management team, the business employs several tailors, many of whom are refugees, immigrants, and Lebanese who have lost their jobs. “Our tailors are fully registered and they have all their rights in terms of social security,” Metni adds. “It’s very important for us, because we are all friends in the company. It’s not the typical hierarchy: we are a team and we all share ideas to make the best product.”

When vinyl banners become fashion statements | The Switchers

Members of the Waste team also attend many cultural events to exchange ideas and brainstorm about how to improve Lebanon’s economy and innovation scene. “We come from a country that is facing a lot of difficulties right now, and it’s always nice to see people removing the dust and building something,” Metni says of those meet-ups.

Our message is not to preach but to show that we can design and make better products while being sustainable.Marc Metni, co-owner and general manager of Waste.
When vinyl banners become fashion statements | The Switchers

Environmental awareness raising in Lebanon:

Metni acknowledges there are a lot of green and social initiatives in Lebanon trying to help the country, while also offering people a decent standard of living. But he says the majority of people are still not aware of ecological issues, as they are often lower priority. “Perhaps our initiative can show them that with a little bit of innovation and thinking outside the box, people can still work responsibly and ethically while also making a living,” he says. “We believe in what we are doing so much.”

Website: https://waste.studio/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/wastestudio
Instagram: www.instagram.com/wastestudio

Photos: Courtesy of Waste

Waste Sustainable Textiles & Clothing
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