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With materials scarce, Cuban designers master recycling chic

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 01:24

Designers in Cuba are turning trash to treasure, forced to think outside the box and re-purpose trash amid a shortage of raw materials in the Caribbean nation. Nathan Frandino reports.

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They say that, 'one man's trash is another man's treasure.' And for lamp designer Olaff Alejo, his business depends on it. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CREATOR OF LAMPS MADE OUT OF RECYCLED MATERIAL, OLAFF ALEJO, SAYING: "50, 60 percent, as I was saying, is recycled material." With a collector's eye, Alejo scours Havana's trash, in search of the raw materials.. badly needed but so hard to find in Cuba. Alejo - a former engineer - says his efforts are paying off. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CREATOR OF LAMPS MADE OUT OF RECYCLED MATERIAL, OLAFF ALEJO, SAYING: "I got more profit for the craftwork, for my pieces, for my paintings, for my lamps than for my profession and well, I decided to take a break from my profession." With the government now allowing private businesses, Alejo is part of a new kind of workers revolution. The number of Cuba's self-employed has more than tripled in the past six years to more than half a million at the end of 2016. And like Alejo, many of those self-employed have turned to recycling. Caridad Limonta, whose family firm sells women's apparel, says nothing goes to waste. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CREATOR OF BAGS MADE OUT OF DISCARDED PIECES OF MATERIAL, CARIDAD LIMONTA, SAYING: "From the clothes we fix, there is always something left, something left over from a leg - we have to change a neckline and we keep all of the leftover material." And it's a trend that continues to grow. A creative fix that keeps these Cubans in business.

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With materials scarce, Cuban designers master recycling chic

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 01:24