Tyre upcycling fashion brand Laura Zabo has seen 100x return on investment with fashion accessories made entirely from scrap tyre rubber.
Tyre upcycling, recycling and eco-friendly disposal is essential as the UK generates over 486,000 tonnes of used tyres (around 55 million tyres) every year. In the USA more than 70 Gigawatts of energy is wasted every year grinding up tyres. Grinding up just one trailer of tyres uses enough energy to power a home for three months; and 40,000 trailer loads are processed every year!
“We live in an age when upcycled items are more and more valuable,” Zabo says. “We all need more money to pay bills and maintain a happy and stable lifestyle. Upcycling gives us this opportunity. It also improves our self-confidence, reduces stress and gives meaning to our lives. It’s one of the most exciting and beautiful industries of our age.”
On a visit to Tanzania, Zabo found some brightly painted sandals made by the Maasai from used car tyres and saw an opportunity in tyre upcycling, as it not only offers free materials for a new business but also offers a business with a mission.
She started her business in 2015 by investing £40 in a small number of tools and collecting scrap rubber for free from local bike shops and recycling centres. Creating a visually stunning and environmentally focused selection of belts, statement jewellery and sandals within a few days she had sold her first collection to friends. It wasn’t long before her unique range was gaining sales from online customers throughout the UK and beyond. She now earns around £4000 a month through her Etsy shop, website and live events.
Aside from launching her upcycled fashion brand, Laura’s success has been the catalyst for helping others. Today, she is confident to share her knowledge and inspire others by teaching them how to make their own products and even launch their own tyre rubber upcycling businesses.
“This is a niche idea and I envision a future where tyre upcyclers can be found on every corner. As soap and candle-making become increasingly popular, I know that upcycling can help families and individuals live happier lives during this crisis. And it helps financially and mentally too.”
Anyone can join her online classes from any age and start to re-purpose rubber into jewellery and other items. She is already helping dozens of people and hopes to spearhead a movement towards reduced individual and collective tyre waste for many years to come.