Small business editor Caitlin Sykes this week interviews a handful of small business owners about upcyling.

Helen Copplestone and her husband Samuel Wyrsch founded KARKT, which makes bags from upcycled materials, late last year.

Can you tell me a bit more about what you do at KARKT?

KARKT is a company my husband and I set up that blends together various materials destined for landfill into messenger and gear bags. The bags are primarily made by reclaiming expired or damaged truck curtains, but we also use seat belts, bike and truck inner tubes, and street flags in various aspects of the bags.

We see what we do as a double eco-whammy because we're diverting quality reusable materials from the landfill plus we're creating high quality products from them that will last and won't need throwing back in the landfill or replacing any time soon.

Where did the idea for the business come from?


My husband is from Switzerland and we lived in Europe for three years, and that's where we originally saw the concept. A Swiss company and a German company started out repurposing unwanted truck curtains into bags about the same time 20 years ago, and since then companies in Canada, the UK and South America have been doing the same. We guessed no one was reusing truck curtains in New Zealand and that they were ending up in landfill, and when we came back to live here and investigated we found we were right.

We're a green-at-heart bunch. To locally manufacture something that's reusing materials no longer wanted, rather than putting more pressure on new resources, aligns with our personal beliefs.

When you buy lasting quality, it will withstand several cheaper versions.