Upcycle Hawaii turns other people’s trash into beautiful (sometimes wearable) treasures

Updated: Jan. 3, 2020 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In her Big Island office, Mattie Mae Larson sews, sorts and sifts through cast-offs like ropes and nets to find consumer waste she can re-use.

“I like to say I’m half mad scientist and half artist,” she said.

Through her small business, Upcycle Hawaii, Larson turns trash into colorful products like earrings, wallets and small totes, just to name a few.

They are amazing transformations considering the source.

"Our main materials are inner tubes, bicycle inner tubes, reclaimed rubber, the melted marine debris and those plastics that come in all shapes and sizes," she said.

Larson has re-purposed items others have thrown way for most of her life. It blossomed into a lifestyle effort to protect the environment.

"Today I'm going to talk a little bit about Marine debris, mostly ghost nets and ropes," she says in the intro to one her video blogs.

On them she freely shares her techniques for transforming throwaways and encourages others to do what she’s doing.

"I'm really driven to look at things that don't get that second chance and to try to give them a much more appreciated second life," she said.

Besides running her company, Larson helps with beach cleanups on the Big Island. Through her business she’s kept thousands of square feet of discarded plastic from winding up in the landfill.

She estimates last year she recycled more than 100 pounds of plastic.

“This year we are hoping to double if not triple what we did in 2019,” she said.

Larson came up with 20 different products for her Upcycle Hawaii line and she’s always looking for more creative ideas. Her goods are sold in stores statewide and she’s looking beyond Hawaii.

"We're super excited to do our first international show in Japan in July of this year," she said.

To learn more about Upcycle Hawaii, click here.

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