Mexican Designer Recycles Election Ads into Tote Bags

Mexican fashion designer Camilo Morales cuts electoral trash that he uses to produce bags and clothes in his studio in Mexico City on June 6.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — Fashion designer Camilo Morales has upcycled everything from plastic shopping sacks to fabric scraps, turning them into bags, clothing and accessories.

His recent raw material is the vinyl political advertisements for candidates in Mexico’s local, state and federal elections, which took place on June 2.

Among the winners was Claudia Sheinbaum, the former Mexico City mayor who will be the nation’s first woman president.

For the last year, Morales has been pulling down the ubiquitous banners, taking scissors to them and sewing them into tote bags, which he sells for between 100 pesos ($5.44) and 600 pesos ($32.63). “This election season was ridiculous,” Morales said. “They started [hanging up ads] so soon.”

Morales’ cheapest bags, sold under his label Rere, use the all-white background of most ads.

“I joked that they practically grew on trees,” Morales said. “At night I would take down one ad, and the next day another one was already there to take its place.”

Under election law, political parties have four days after elections are over to take down their ads.

In Mexico City alone, an estimated 10,000 tons of trash were produced by political publicity this season, according Juan Manuel Nunez, a professor at the Iberoamerican University.