Many companies are trying to bring sustainability into their business model, but few have achieved a level of seamless recycling processes on par with that of Elvis & Kresse — the company that has rescued every fire-hose in London from landfill since 2005.
Waste occurs everywhere, it’s an unavoidable byproduct of life. But, centuries of rapid technological advancement, consumerism and the ever-expanding population is bringing the planet to the brink of collapse as our unwanted whims and the packaging they come in pollute our lands, seas and sky.
Most of us are aware that recycling product packaging and reducing everyday waste is imperative to making a dent in the mammoth amount of reparation there is to be done to ensure the earth’s existence for future generations — but what about the waste that occurs elsewhere, outside the realms of consumerism?
For example, in the UK the National Health Service produces 600 tonnes of medical waste per year while the construction industry produces over one hundred million tonnes.
The Fashion industry, however, is said to be the most polluting on earth after oil and is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon footprint and nearly 20% of global wastewater according to the United Nations.
Companies operating in usually wasteful industries that are finding creative ways to reduce waste in areas that the rest of the world is not focusing on have the potential to have a real impact.
One such company is Elvis & Kresse. Back in 2005, Kent couple James Henrit (Elvis) and Kresse Wesling had a chance encounter with the London Fire Brigade where they learned that all of London’s damaged and decommissioned fire hoses were destined for landfill. Seeing the potential in the pillar box red heavy-duty material that the hoses were made from, the duo cut a deal with London Fire Brigade and set up Elvis & Kresse and started turning London’s fire hoses into luxury handbags. To give back they pledged to donate 50% of all profits from the Fire-hose Collection to The Fire Fighters Charity.
“This heroic material, once used to save lives, gets a second chance to keep giving back.”
For over a decade, none of London’s fire-hose has gone to landfill and over 175 tons of material has been reclaimed and counting.
The Fire-hose collection consists of a range of beautifully made handbags and accessories cut from the re-engineered raw form of the red hoses. Designs also come in rare yellow for a slightly higher price as yellow fire-hoses are few and far between. For the bag linings, they use reclaimed parachute silk and all product packaging is made from recycled materials.
As they expanded, Elvis & Kresse started to create products from reclaimed leather and had agreements with numerous manufacturers to save their leather cut-offs.
Then in 2017, they partnered with the Burberry Foundation to tackle the great global problem of leather waste.
According to their website, this Five-year partnership will see “at least 120 tonnes of leather off-cuts from Burberry recrafted into new luxury items, designed and sold by Elvis & Kresse.”
This partnership with a global fashion giant highlights the industries newfound efforts to reduce waste and the much-needed move from ‘fast fashion’ to sustainability.
Still, luxury fashion brands have a long way to go and must reduce wastefulness in all areas of business. While the Burberry Foundation may be leaders in the area of leather waste, it was reported last year that the fashion house burned around £40 million in unused stock rather than selling it off cheaper to maintain the brand’s exclusivity and value.
Kresse Wesling MBE
Elvis & Kresse