With materials scarce, Cuban designers master recycling chic


HAVANA (Reuters) – Olaff Alejo’s salt lamps are eerily pleasing and designed to freshen a air.

Yet a Cuban engineer contingency rummage by rabble bins and scour a sidewalks of Havana for bits of timber and archaic electrical inclination to make them.

In Communist-run Cuba, designers of garments and domicile products contend a deficiency of indiscriminate stores as good as a responsibility and nonesuch of tender materials have forced them to get creative. Many spin to repurposing and recycling a materials during hand.

These pioneers of a island’s fledgling private zone contend they are branch a rival waste into an asset, while agreeable unique, ecologically-friendly designs.

“It’s not easy to get a materials so we have to adjust and improvise a lot,” pronounced Alejo, 37, whose lamps enclose salt crystals. “Some 50-60 percent is recycled material.”

Alejo pronounced he asks carpenters for their leftover bits and uses a frames of rejected windows and doors in sequence to make a wooden bases for his lamps. He also salvages a switches, plugs and cables from aged electrical devices.

“They are intensely expensive, and there isn’t a unchanging supply in stores,” he said, adding his association Luzvi still contingency import some inputs – like lightbulbs with a softer heat than Cuba’s starkly white, energy-saving ones.

The new lamps sell for between $25 and $50, a comparatively vast sum in a nation where a normal monthly state income is around $30. Lower submit costs would capacitate Alejo to cut prices, he said.

The supervision has authorised some-more Cubans to set adult their possess businesses in new years as partial of a devise to refurbish a ailing, Soviet-style economy and cut a magisterial state payroll.

The series of Cuba’s self-employed some-more than tripled in 6 years to above 500,000 by a finish of 2016, central information shows.

Some entrepreneurs complain, however, that a supervision has not followed by on certain reforms. For example, a country’s small, private businesses still do not have entrance to a indiscriminate market.

Raw materials are mostly in brief supply and expensive, nonetheless Havana puts that down to a half-century-old U.S. trade blockade.

Caridad Limonta, whose family organisation Procle sells women’s attire and home goods, pronounced new textiles were dear so she mostly bought garments or hotel fate and sheets during state-run, used stores and recycled them.

“I renovate trousers for instance into bags,” pronounced a 60-year-old entrepreneur. “The backs of shirts don’t repairs as most so we cut them, hang them together and make patchwork quilts.”

Limonta pronounced Cubans are not in a robe of throwing things away, and find new uses for them instead. At Procle, shoulder pads turn sponges for a kitchen, while aged fate are reinvented as tablecloths.

While Limonta pronounced she wished it were easier to buy textiles, she also does not wish Cuba to adopt a same kind of “fast fashion” prevalent in consumerist economies where garments are inexpensive though mostly disposable, generating trash.

In a business district of Vedado, only around a dilemma from Procle, is a Vintage Bazar, a emporium that refurbishes aged lamps as good as designs quirky new ones with anything from plumbing pipes to H2O bottles.

“In other countries we would chuck divided a flare and buy a new one,” pronounced engineer Gretel Serrano, 32, who is now refurbishing a vast collection of lamps for a hotel. “Here people move them to a emporium and we revive them like new.”

Reporting by Sarah Marsh, modifying by G Crosse


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