Old Banners Given New Life
Every year, about 15,000 tons of banners end up in landfills, where they will decompose for 500 years. An alternative solution was devised by a student ecologist
Daryna Antonenko, a student environmentalist gives a second life to banners. She sews backpacks, laptop cases and passport covers from the used fabric. She shows us how shopping bags are made.
“You can’t recut banner fabric. You can use the sewing machine only once. Ordinary fabric can be recut and resewn, but with banner fabric, you have only one chance,” seamstress Halyna Sukachiova said.
“My father has his own printing business. He prints banners. I have been watching this process all my life. I began to learn where to put them, how to dispose of them, what can be done with them, what is done with them in other parts of the world. And in fact, there is no obvious answer. They are simply brought to Turkey and then burned,” the eco-business founder said.
The workshop for things made of banner fabric is a family business. Her father helps with design, logistics and transportation, and her mother looks after communication and business strategy. Before using them, the banners are checked for mechanical damage, washed and dried thoroughly, and only then the cutting can start. Although, not all materials are suitable for reuse.
“We studied this fabric and realized that some of them are absolutely unsuitable for sewing or reuse because they will not be high-quality products. We immediately reject these,” Daryna said.
Most often, raw materials are brought by the customers themselves. For example, they ask to make corporate bags from their banners.
“We choose aesthetically pleasing elements to become the main emphasis on the bag or other items. Each of our products is unique. You can be sure that you won’t run into anyone else with it – because the banner has been used up,” she said.
Over time, exhibition centers began to bring in their banners. Each client can customize the product: add or remove an additional pocket, choose accessories – or just order something unusual. The latest orders are saber and gun cases.
“Recently, we began to sew new banners from pieces of old banners. We just apply a new company logo. It’s done in order not to print a new one,” she said.
The company does not have its own factory. Five seamstresses sew things in different parts of Kyiv. The first six months they worked at a loss, soon they were breaking even and now there is even a small profit.
“We understood that this business would not bring us a large profit. It is more focused on changing each of our lives,” she said.
In the future, Daryna plans to establish a school of recycling and upcycling.
“Let’s say this will be an eco hub with a lecture hall for various classes on eco-topics. We really want to open a shop with products by Ukrainian eco-companies. We want it to be a large workshop with our own production facility,” Daryna said.
They also plan to hold corporate workshops and tours about the production of things made from used banners.