Craftivism Upcycle Can City

Published on November 20th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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Upcycle Scaled Up: Can City Turns Waste into Art

Upcycle Can CityWhat if you could upcycle hundreds of discarded tin cans into beautiful furniture?

As ethical crafters, we try to upcycle reclaimed materials wherever we can, and that adds up to a big impact. But wouldn’t it be gratifying to upcycle on a larger scale? That’s what the folks at Brazilian collective Studio Swine are doing with their project Can City.

In São Paulo, Brazil, trash-collectors called catadores collect 80 percent of the recycling in the city. These are not city employees. They’re individuals who pull rickety carts and collect discarded recyclables from the streets.

The Can City folks are using the cans that the catadores collect in what they call a “mobile foundry” made from a reclaimed beer keg and other salvaged materials. You can see their first mobile foundry in the photo at the top and check it out in action in the video below.

Upcycle a New Life for Catadores

What I love about the Can City project is that not only do they upcycle these cans, but they include the catadores in the manufacturing, helping them to improve their livelihoods. Using the cans that the catadores collect, Can City creates on-the-fly stools using materials that they find around the city. Each stool takes around 60 cans to create depending on the design, according to Alex at Studio Swine.

The idea isn’t for Studio Swine to keep creating these stools, though. They’re teaching the catadores how to smelt, weld, and upcycle the cans into furniture, so that they can expand their job skills using the cans they collect. It’s another example of craftivism at its best!

Just as cool? The machine runs on waste veggie oil that they collect from local shops! Check out this gorgeous video about the project:

Have you run into any good examples of craftivism like this recently? I’d love to hear about more crafty projects that are cleaning up the environment and changing lives!

Images via Studio Swine; h/t: Ecopreneurist


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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



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