Turning tubes into trinkets, Cat Malette is grabbing Whistler's tire problem by the horns .
Have you ever noticed the overflowing bins of bicycle tires and tubes next to Fitz chair? Catherine Malette has, and after taking stock of the incredibly large amount of wastage in Whistler, she decided to take the matter into her own hands. Supported by her son Benny and best friend Pascale, she set about giving those floppy rubber guys a second lease of life. The trio became inspired by the eco-friendly movement and started Raven Upcycling right here in the Sea to Sky. Saving discarded materials from eternity in a landfill, they are now creating affordable, hand made accessories that make both a fashion and environmental statement.
The inspiration came after a trip to Portland, Oregon, where Cat and her sister visited a quirky artisan market and first witnessed inner tubes being up-cycled into accessories. She returned home excited and filled with a sense of purpose: To create and to help mitigate our garbage and recycling situation in the Sea to Sky corridor. The team of three then began creating accessories using primarily bicycle inner tubes, rescuing them from trash piles and extending their lifespan by years. The end product? Beautiful, durable black feather earrings that can be found exclusively in Blenz Coffee.
This process of recycling (or "up-cycling") inner tubes is fairly simple, and Cat strongly encourages everyone to give it a try. After collecting the used tubes, the team washes them thoroughly with dish soap and hot water, removing the fine powder that coats the inner edge. They are then dried in the sun for a few hours, after which they are cut into their desired shapes and assembled with metal pieces for their rebirth as jewelry. This process of reincarnation is done entirely by hand. Once they are ready, the earrings are sold at the bargain price of $10, making them affordable for most Whistler residents.
The bicycle tubes used to create their accessories collection have been organically sourced from multiple bike shops around Whistler village. Cat also welcomes donations of used inner tubes from individuals, and is in the process of setting up drop-off boxes around town so that the good folks of Whistler can contribute to her project. This will likely be near the recycling facilities at Nesters and Function Junction, but in the meantime, if you find yourself with some tubes to spare, get in touch the Raven Upcycling team and someone will take them off your hands.
Raven Upcycling's ethos is centered around the environment. Cat feels fortunate to witness the raw beauty and power of the Sea to Sky's natural scenery, and with that gratitude comes a sense of responsibility for the well-being of the environment. Her goal is to alleviate some of the waste burden created by our favourite outdoor activities; in this context, an excessive amount of bicycle tires that will spend an eternity in landfill.
Raven Upcycling's business practice is a model example of how we can take responsibility for our recreational impact on the environment. By tackling our waste head-on, Raven Upcycling is working towards making the biking industry in Whistler more sustainable. Using recycled (or "up-cycled") materials at every opportunity, it is one of the most innovative waste reduction processes in town.
These days, Cat feels even more motivated than she did in the early days on the business. Compelled by data and statistics coming from climate change scientists, she has joined the campaign to urge citizens to make significant changes, quickly, in order to minimize our footprint. She feels incredibly grateful to be part of a community that cares about making the world a better place for more generations to come.
Raven Upcycling is in the process of expansion; namely by opening an online store and adding more items to their product line. They create feather earrings, bracelets, keychains and are currently finalizing designs for their new pet collars and money pouches. By summer's end, you should be able to find their products in other locations around Whistler Village as well as other areas of B.C. If you are interested in showcasing some of their products in your store or gallery, get in touch with the friendly team at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, go check them out in Blenz Coffee, near Whistler's Marketplace.