Manila FAME spotlights Junk Not! ‘upcycled’ furniture

With a brand name giving away a hint on what it is about, Junk Not! definitely proves that there are more things you can do to trash than just throwing them away.

[caption id="attachment_278406" align="alignright" width="300"]Colorful napkin rings handmade by Laguna women using junk food and foil wrappers Colorful napkin rings handmade by Laguna women using junk food and foil wrappers[/caption]

At the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) regular Manila FAME exhibits, Junk Not! gained an introduction to local and foreign buyers, who marveled anew at the Filipino’s ingenuity.

“We asked the assistance of the local DTI offices in Laguna and Region IV in finding a venue to market our products, and Manila FAME gave us the exposure we looked for,” enthused Willie Garcia, the brand’s founder in an interview.

She added that their trade show experience was tremendously positive, with a good amount of inquiries from foreign trade buyers. In fact, the brand has lined up sale negotiations with buyers from the United States, the Netherlands, Italy, and the Middle East since being spotlighted by CITEM.

A small-scale brand hailing from Biñan, Laguna, Junk Not! promotes and produces eco-creative products through refashioned and re-purposed waste materials.

Gracia related, “Junk Not! is my little way to reverberate the belief that there is no such thing as waste, only resources that are out of place.”

[caption id="attachment_278405" align="alignright" width="300"]JunkNot’s ‘Bangko’ made from reclaimed woods and repurposed plastic waste JunkNot’s ‘Bangko’ made from reclaimed woods and repurposed plastic waste[/caption]

When the brand began in 2009, Garcia produced fashion accessories such as earrings, necklaces, bags, and purses made from woven foil wrappers and rolled papers.

Four years later, Garcia, who is an interior designer, decided to focus on home furnishing, and applied her practice of green interiors.

Junk Not’s upcycling method was borne out of a desire to address the plastic waste pollution in the country. The first step she took according to Garcia was to teach communities about proper waste segregation.

t4“Ninety percent of solid waste materials are recyclable, and we can profit from that,” Garcia cited. “Up to now, we teach the residents how to manually make braided strings and ropes, and woven mats out of junk food wrappers, sachets, and foil wrappers collected from community schools and sari-sari stores.”

She continued, “Those ropes are the base materials for Junk Not’s upcycled products, and we buy the materials from them.”

t1With pieces of reclaimed wood from old houses working as frames, the braided strings made of plastic waste are weaved into chair seat or back rest.

Besides plastic residual waste mitigation, Junk Not also advocates for community empowerment. As such, most of their products are handmade by a community of women from Cavite and Laguna.

“Junk Not! provides a means of livelihood for women by buying the raw materials from them,” Garcia shared, adding that she holds training and development program for these communities, in addition to the percentage of sales proceeds that they give back to the workers.

The enterprise showcased their upcycled furniture, home and fashion accessories in the 63rd edition of Manila FAME under The Artisans Village-Laguna Pavilion, and the OTOP Marketplace.