Now You Can Recycle While Online Shopping

If you are looking to shop for unique goods without feeling guilty, Kuttlefish is the ecommerce site for you! Kuttlefish offers a platform for sellers and buyers of upcycled and recycled goods. Products only qualify to be sold on Kuttlefish if they meet their material origin promise. The promise requires that at least 5% of the materials used to make the product are diverted from a landfill. Kuttlefish constantly demonstrates that materials we throw away have value and can often still be used, you just have to be creative. The website also provides a trustworthy market for buyers who want their money to be spent on environmentally friendly goods.

Not only does Kuttlefish create a platform for entrepreneurs and artisans, it also serves as a platform for inspiration. A section of their website titled “ideas” simply offers different ways that you can recycle or upcycle goods that you may otherwise have laying around waiting to be dumped in a landfill. From old cars converted into chicken coops to necklaces made out of forks, this website has something for everybody.
The founder of Kuttlefish, Ian Moise, has always been a recycler. His mom helped start one of the first recycling centers in San Monica, CA in the 1970’s. Moise was raised understanding the importance of reusing and recycling, but it wasn’t until he traveled to Africa with the Peace Corps that the idea for Kuttlefish took root. Moise realized that a lot of what we consider waste in the United States is viewed as a valuable natural resource in other parts of the world. He was fascinated with all the creative ways that people were using everyday materials. Moise decided that he wanted to use the web to allow creative reuse to flourish. Luckily, Moise’ father is a web designer and the two teamed up in 2008 to work on an environmentally friendly website.

The website was incorporated in 2010 under a different name. All investment into the site has either come from the owners or has been self-generated. The website’s name was changed to “Kuttlefish” in 2012. Cuttlefish are intelligent sea creatures that can change their shape and texture to adapt to their surroundings. This makes them the perfect symbol for a website built around the ability of materials to evolve in order to adapt to people’s needs and wants.

Currently, roughly 80% of Kuttlefish users are in the United States, with the rest coming mostly from Europe and Australia. According to Moise, the greatest obstacle to the company’s expansion is lack of dedicated resources and competition from existing online shopping giants such as Etsy, Amazon, and Ebay. Kuttlefish currently only has four employees and they all work part time around existing responsibilities. Despite challenges, Moise is confident that Kuttlefish can succeed in serving an ever increasing number of consumers that desire “green” and “social good” to be part and parcel of their retail experience.

Moise shared with us some of the lessons he learned from starting this website, and they are important reminders to anyone fighting for change: “persistence is everything” and “to achieve greater goals, you have to solve a little piece every day.” One thing is sure, Kuttlefish is a solution that will help people shop more sustainably and live greener.

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Elizabeth Walsh

Elizabeth Walsh was a research intern for the Waste to Wealth Initiative for the summer 2017.