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With massive amounts of bed linen being discarded from hotels around the world each year, Reused Remade’s ”reincarnation” does something about it

Now also teaming up with iconic interior store Svenskt Tenn.

Interview: Johan Magnusson

Josephine Alhanko started professional ballet training at Royal Swedish Ballet School at the age of 10. At the age of 22, she was accepted into Stockholm University of the Arts, and after graduating, she worked for over 15 years at The Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm and did a number of movies and TV series. After her third child was born, she realized how extremely demanding a life as an actor is, especially if you want to combine it with motherhood.

— I felt that I needed to own my time better and my focus had shifted from me, myself and I, to my kids and to the next generation. I felt that I wanted to be able to look my children in their eyes and assure them that I contributed to a positive change in the world, she says.

This was in 2015 when she also heard about the huge amount of plastic waste that circulates in our oceans and ends up on our shores. That became an eye opener.

— If we don’t take action there will be more plastic than fish in our seas by the year 2050. I was at home with the flu one day and listened to the radio about the UN conference in Paris and I started to fantasize about what other material would be possible to produce bags from, and the idea to use discarded bed linen popped up in my head.   Founded in 2016 together with Pia Walter, Reused Remade was born out of an ambition to do some good in the world and to contribute to a more sustainable way of living.

— Massive amounts of bed linen are discarded each year from hotels around the world. At the same time new fabrics are being produced to make new textile bags. When we’re reusing bed linen to make textile bags, it’s a chance to take care of something that is considered waste and at the same time reduce the need for new material, says Alhanko, continuing,

— It is a simple idea; we collect the hotel bed linen that can no longer serve as such. It is shipped to the factory where it is cut, printed and sewn before they go on the market as the most climate smart bags available. However, behind the idea there is lots of work and we learn new things every day. The beauty in this process, compared to recycled fabrics, is that it does not require any mechanical or chemical processes to transform the fabric into new textiles. We have a PCT-patent application on the methods and product. The thing is that bed linen has roughly the same shape, color and size around the world and is therefore easy to transform into bags for everyday use. We spend a lot of time informing our customers about the benefit of reusing in comparison to re-cycling. We have to spread information and educate people. We can see that once the customer understands this difference, there is no turning back.

Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget, was their first customer and while establishing the company, they also learned a lot about the textile industry in general. And, furthermore, about the production of textile, sourcing and shipping and the different impact certain material have on our eco-system.

— For example, that virgin textile bags need to be used up to 20 000 times in order to level out the environmental impact they have in production. We need to take care of what we already have and that has already been produced. We take care of this high-quality fabric and give it a second life. We call it the reincarnation of bed linen, says Alhanko.   This fall, they introduce a new partnership with well-known interior design store Svenskt Tenn.

— They are known for their high-quality products and design that lasts over the years. I got to sit next to their CEO, Maria Veerasamy, at a dinner party. She’s worked with textile for many, many years and she is very well informed about the benefits of re-using fabrics in comparison to virgin textile or re-cycled fabric. She thought this bag and our business idea was spot on and that it was well aligned with the values of Svenskt Tenn.   How’s the current status for upcycling and circular production? Do you see a great interest?

— We see an increased interest for our products over the last year and right now demand is higher than current production capacity. This is of course a good problem to have, and we expect to be able to meet this demand with increased production capacity early next year. An important part of the business is the larger mass market such as grocery and liquor stores, we will shortly be launching our bags all over Scandinavia as well as Europe. But we also love the collaborations with high profile brands, such as Svenskt Tenn, that help us build awareness and brand. We love that our bags really are for everyone!

And how do you think that the interest will develop onwards?

— Our plan is to make Reused Remade a global enterprise with sourcing and production in different regions around the world. We can see the benefits of sourcing, producing and selling the bags in the same regions to minimize the transportation of the linen and bags. We have started with production in Europe and are now expanding production in Asia. We also hope that our company will encourage other people to find ways of reusing products. Think about how many new companies there could be without the need to claim new natural resources, says Alhanko.