E-Commerce, and Supporting Sustainability

While working at Starbucks today, I ran into an old friend of mine named Andrew Burill. After catching up for a few minutes, he asked me for my input on a series of photos, more specifically, which one contained the best lighting and optimal emphasis on a bright read bow tie directly below the man’s chin.


As it turns out, Andrew has been working on expanding a new personal business venture here on grounds: handcrafted bow ties. Using materials from old or recycled cloth, to almost anything colorful he can get his hands on, the custom design of these unique bow ties has, and continues to appeal to a wide variety of students and faculty members at UVA. Due to the careful selection and input about design coming from the customer, Andrew has been able to handcraft one of a kind pieces that display each individual’s tastes, and perhaps even culture or passions!

“I do Frat colors, school colors, old uniforms– anything the heart desires!” he says. From administrators such as Dean Groves and Teresa Sullivan, to any student looking to express a more defined fashion taste, Andrew’s craft appeals to nearly anyone.

But this is a sustainability blog; why, you might be thinking, why am I discussing hand crafted bowties?

As it turns out, Andrew’s innovative entrepreneurial venture at UVA reminded me of a broader movement within e-commerce today. As a trend more relevant to sustainability efforts, I would like to shed light on a burgeoning form of industry: custom, crafty repurposing ventures made possible through e-commerce. Custom repurposing projects have started to gain solid footing in industries such as furniture, clothing and accessories, and dining (just to name a few). In wake of the increasing success of e-commerce ventures, online providers such as Etsy now provide individual artists and entrepreneurs with an increasing consumer base to support themselves, and an opportunity to reach further into different parts of the world. With such a large online presence, consumers can interact with their sellers online, and support small business ventures using recycled and reused materials, and more sustainable production methods.


The implications of this trend could be huge. Consumers no longer need to be restricted to newly made items manufactured by larger organizations– most of which are designed to break down in the first place. Not only does repurposing through this type of craft reduce potential waste of individual objects, but it can also significantly cut back on other types of waste that are produced in large scale manufacturing ventures. Perhaps, in less economically developed countries, we may also see benefits as newfound profitability margins from e-commerce ventures can serve as an alternative to the more widely chosen option of degrading and extracting natural resources.

Accessibility of products is crucial. Today, we have the ability not only to be more sustainable in our purchasing patterns by choosing to buy recycled of repurposed goods, but we also have the ability to support small artists and entrepreneurs as a new form of competition to larger companies that produce much more waste. So readers, order up!


Note: for further information regarding Andrew’s bow tie business, you can contact him at any of the following:

@AndrewBurill on Twitter and Instagram











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