1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Plastic Works in Indonesia
Ed Wray  /  AP
Used detergent labels and toothpaste tubes from Indonesia are going from landfills to fashion frills on bags and wallets sold in Singapore, Australia and the United States.
updated 7/2/2008 12:53:31 PM ET 2008-07-02T16:53:31

Used detergent labels and toothpaste tubes from Indonesia are going from landfills to fashion frills on bags and wallets sold in Singapore, Australia and the United States.

The fad known as "trashion" has gained mainstream acceptance with chic, urban designers worldwide now posting big profits by using leftover, discarded and found materials to create jewelry, clothing and housewares.

But in Indonesia, where half the population of 235 million live on less than $2 a day, homemakers, disabled workers and local entrepreneurs are the ones embracing the eco-friendly fashion. The goal, they say, is to reduce pollution while providing jobs to the poorest of the poor.

Aswin Aditya, founder of the Jakarta-based company Plastic Works, buys plastic packaging from trash scavengers for $0.30 a pound ($0.66 a kilogram). His nine employees cut, sew and craft it into wallets, umbrellas and shower curtains that sell for between $25 and $85.

One of the destinations is Monsoon Vermont, an Internet-based eco-shop in the United States that receives around 1,000 products a month, he said.

Recycling facilities are virtually nonexistent across most of Indonesia, where landfills are spilling over and where uncollected rubbish is often burned or ends up clogging streets and waterways. For some, the trashion industry is seen as a tiny but viable solution to unmanaged, growing consumer waste.

"What we do is small, but every little bit helps," said Aditya, who trains homemakers to produce goods suitable for export.

Indonesian designers, meanwhile, are showing their support for eco-fashion on the catwalk.

Computer-chip dresses and frocks made from plastic wrap wowed audiences in March, when models strutted their stuff during Eco Chic, an Asia-wide fashion show launched in Jakarta to help transform trash into haute couture.

Ann Wizer, director of the Jakarta-based nonprofit design venture XS Project, says her goal is to raise awareness about waste production and environmental degradation. But as the potential for profits increase, prominent designers and corporations also are adopting earth-friendly measures.

She urged consumers to be aware of businesses that appear green but are actually business ventures.

"This isn't about making money, it's about positive change," the former designer said.

That means providing jobs to a country suffering from widespread unemployment. Regardless of the model, the money from the sale of trashion products goes back to the communities that craft them. Both Plastic Works and XS also support local projects in health and sanitation.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. @StormCoker/Twitter

    Yosemite wildfire swells, threatens giant sequoias

    7/30/2014 11:19:18 AM +00:00 2014-07-30T11:19:18
  1. 7 things you’re not doing to prevent skin cancer

    Here’s a scary fact as you plan another sun-soaked vacation this summer: Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is on the rise.

    7/29/2014 9:12:37 PM +00:00 2014-07-29T21:12:37
  1. Bren Herrera

    Join Fresh Cooks Live! Make skewered veggies, fruits and more

    7/29/2014 11:16:14 AM +00:00 2014-07-29T11:16:14
  1. Alex Miller via YouTube

    Sister loves brother too much to let him grow up

    7/30/2014 1:26:08 AM +00:00 2014-07-30T01:26:08
  1. Javier Pesquera / ABC

    'Bachelorette' superfan: Stop the shame game!

    7/30/2014 12:27:07 AM +00:00 2014-07-30T00:27:07