Kuttlefish, a global community designed to reduce waste

9 February 2016
Shopping is never going to cease. As much as some of us would like to see less wasteful things being bartered and sold, the general desire for trade will never relent. And until the internet stops working, shopping online is not going to vanish. According to PWC, 60% of Australians participate in shopping over the internet. That is a crazy huge amount of the population shopping online.

Hidden amongst the larger commerce sites, sits an online marketplace, that sells upcycled and recycled items ONLY. It’s called Kuttlefish…and I think it’s pretty cool.

The principal goal of Kuttlefish is to reduce waste and consumption by helping people find value in materials rather than throwing them "away". We achieve this by recycling, reusing, upcycling, repurposing, etc. We achieve this by inspiring each other to think outside the box with items and materials in our homes and businesses. We achieve this by creating a circular economy around materials, and buying and selling products that support this goal.

How does Kuttlefish work?

Much like other online stores, people who make items from upcycled and recycled materials, can upload and sell their wares.

Products can be rated, artists can be contacted and idea sharing is encouraged through their forum or browsing their Get Inspired page.

Prospective sellers, don't pay until they sell. And even then, the transaction fees are lower than other online marketplaces - 1% during the first year and 3% thereafter.

The Builder is always looking at ways to upcycle leftover materials for jobs. I love seeing the cool ideas he can come up with. It has a puzzle solving aspect to it that appeals to him.

The marketplace has SO MANY great items. I liked this coat hanger made from an old chair (um, yep!) or old door turned into a table.

This denim pouch would be a great cutlery holder when out and about.

And I think my Dad would really like this at his place. Actually, I think all the members of my family would like this.

I am not sharing this because I have been paid or anything like that. But because I like to share little known endeavours that people are making to do things different. I was so inspired by Kuttlefish that I decided to interview Ian, the brains behind the space, a couple questions.

What was the inspiration behind Kuttlefish?
When I lived in Africa, I was surprised at the creativity and resourcefulness of people there. I saw a ton of raw materials that we were missing out on because of the negative stigma with “garbage," and at the same time, an immense opportunity. Years later, with the growth of the internet, social media and e-commerce, Kuttlefish became my project to connect people, their ideas, their resourcefulness, their creativity, and their entrepreneurship, from all over the world.

Did you come across any misconceptions when it comes to upcycled or recycling items?
Yes, I come across misconceptions of the many terms that weave their way into the space - recycled, upcycled, reclaimed, salvaged, reused, refurbished, repurposed, etc. For us, people can debate what the terms mean, but our bottom line is our mission, which is to reduce waste and inspire others to reduce waste, while growing a vibrant marketplace.

When I lived in Africa, I was surprised at the creativity and resourcefulness of people there. I saw a ton of raw materials that we were missing out on because of the negative stigma with “garbage," and at the same time, an immense opportunity.

Any challenges you have overcome?
Starting a business is not easy, especially in pre-investment funding stages. We need to be highly resourceful and creative in everything we do — and prepared to work around the clock.

Have you always bought secondhand or up-cycled gifts previously? If not, what was the turning point?
I grew up around recycling. In fact, my mother helped start one of the first recycling centers in Santa Monica, California. At a certain age, I decided I didn't want gifts because I thought our culture of over-consumption was creating a one way stream of waste - I didn’t have a “Kuttlefish” to buy things from. The turning point was when I began seeing all the "garbage" as a raw material, and the opportunity for business to mimic natural systems where everything is reused.

Can you share with us some of favorite items right now?
We have a great mix of products on the site right now, and the variety and quality gets better and better everyday. I recently bought a bicycle inner tube bag and a necklace for my fiancé (see attached photos). During holidays, we feature our favorite gift ideas on the site—home decor, bags, jewelry, clothing—there is something for everyone on Cuttlefish.



What are your plans for the future of Kuttlefish?
We plan to continue growing at a steady pace, making sure we don't lose sight of our mission and values. We ultimately want to become the place that people go to for products and ideas that make a difference to people and planet.

And my last question...why the name Kuttlefish?
Kuttlefish, known to be some of the most intelligent sea creatures, are often referred to as “chameleons of the sea” because they are able to change color, shape and texture for camouflage. Kuttlefish represents the ideas of change and adaptation, through the practice of recycling and upcycling. The materials are the same but the form is new, and the “cuttlefish” survives.
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