There’s no denying it – America has a sweet tooth. According to the National Confectioners Association, retail sales of chocolate, candy and gum amount to approximately $28 billion dollars annually. All of that sweetness, however, comes wrapped up in a problem. Because candy-wrappers are usually made up of mixed materials, they are generally not recyclable.
The hybrid of paper, plastic and metal that is responsible for keeping your treats fresh and tasty also prevents them from being conventionally recycled. As a result, millions of candy-wrappers end up in our landfills and eco-systems each and every year. Without avenues to recycle the wrappers, we can either choose to reduce waste by buying bulk candy (or candy with more recycling-friendly packaging such as paper or foil) or we can upcycle the empty wrappers into new, usable goods. Here are some Etsy sellers who are doing just that!
Tracy’s passion for upcycling candy and snack packaging came after a recent vacation to the Croatian Islands. She was so taken by the beautiful and colourful designs on some chip bags, that she packed the empty bags in her luggage and brought them back to her Seattle home. It didn’t take long before Tracy found a creative way to use her “souvenirs”. Clever quilt blocks made from the hoarded chip bags were followed by a mini-wallet, which ultimately became the inspiration for her line of accessories. “After making the Croatian chip wallet, I thought about all the chip bags, soda wrappers, candy bar wrappers & coffee bags that get tossed into the garbage,” says Tracy. And so, Squiggle Chick Designs was born.
The mini wallet and luggage tag (both pictured above) are just two examples of Tracy’s “trash to treasure” collection in the Squiggle Chick Designs Etsy shop. Be sure to check out Squiggle Chick for more goods made from your favourite treats. You might even be lucky enough to stumble upon items made from Tracy’s special stash of UK snack bags, which are sent to her from friends abroad.
Atlanta-based Christy has been sewing her entire life and started Whimsy Stitch in 2003. Initially, she was creating costumes and “conventional” accessories, but a friend’s suggestion led her to trying her hand at upcycling candy-wrappers. Things have been on a (sugar) high ever since the launch of Christy’s candy-wrapper headbands and custom belts. The tasty accessories are flying off the virtual-shelves and their popularity just keeps growing and growing.
Christy’s colourful, elasticized headbands are not only comfortable and unbreakable; they are just as addictive as the candies that they depict. Like Christy says, “You won’t be able to stop at just one!” Watch the Whimsy Stitch Etsy shop for fabulous candy-wrapper bracelets, which Christy promises are coming soon.
New items are also constantly being added to the Ivy Lane Designs Etsy shop. Ivy starts with a seemingly-endless supply of discarded boxes and uses her talent and imagination to turn them into “crafty-licious, future-friendly, insta-collectibles”. Each eco-journal is created from colourful packaging diverted from the landfill and filled with a generous stack of acid-free, recycled paper – perfect for recording your thoughts, lists and doodles. Ivy’s original journals are gift-friendly and feature heavy chipboard backings and sturdy bindings. Not only functional, each one is a little piece of pop-art in and of itself!
Finally, take a look at what Jayme of Vancouver has in her Trashbaggs Etsy shop. Her adorable little pencil cases, change purses and iPod holders combine candy-wrappers with vintage findings for a double-shot of upcycling goodness. Far from disposable, each no-calorie cutie is designed to last because Jayme gives each of her creations, like the coin purse pictured below, a sturdy covering of protective vinyl and a colourful vintage fabric lining. Guys, gals and candy lovers of all ages will appreciate these unique little pouches…and so will the environment!
Thankfully, awareness for our current eco-crisis seems to be increasing hand-in-hand with our insatiable appetite for candy and snack foods. We still have a long way to go in terms of reducing waste (and waist), but in the meantime, what does this mean for the future of our intrepid upcyclers? As Sqiggle Chick’s Tracy puts it, “the possibilities are endless!”