Over the years we’ve seen some surprising materials being repurposed into products: Fire hoses into clothing, highway billboards into tarps, airbags into backpacks, seatbelts into bicycle pedal straps. The latest unexpected source is decommissioned commercial airline life vests. Women’s handbag manufacturer Tocco Toscano has partnered with Singapore International Airlines to turn each expired vest into six items: A zippered pouch, a clutch bag, a long wallet, a bi-fold wallet, a mobile phone bag and a coaster.
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The vests are cut to preserve the instructional graphics and text on them, and the resultant material is reinforced with apple leather, a leather substitute made from apple waste.
What’s kind of funny is the product copy stating that “the collection reinforces SIA’s commitment to sustainability.” Burning Jet A to move people across continents is a necessary component of the global economy, but it seems silly to think we’ll wipe the environmental slate clean by plucking some life vests out of the trash. Until we’re able to fly without using petroleum, we can’t really refer to those companies as being committed to sustainability, can we?
At the very least, perhaps this will inspire designers to overturn more stones in search of repurposable materials.