From Rags to Retreads


Recycling has thankfully become second nature in most households.  Even though I’m the queen of forgetting to leave out my bins on pick up day, I do faithfully break down boxes, crush cans and choose recyclable packaging when I can.

One thing I often think about when I leave out my bin of Fruit Loop boxes and ColdSmoke cans is “where will this end up?”  Sometimes we lose track once our post consumer waste is loaded in the back of that truck. I’ll spare you the lecture, keeping Missoula green is as easy as shopping! Thankfully, several local artists and one Missoula business are bringing transparency and craftsmanship to recycling.

Retread is a cottage business in Missoula making some really fantastic and functional items out of old bicycle tires, billboards and commercial signs.  Along with using used cardboard, straight from the consumer, to print all their business cards, price tags and marketing materials.

Up until this last year, Retread was a small Missoula business that did most of their sales online to out-of-market clients.  I met owner Donovan Peterson and fell in love with his designs through a mutual friend who had the most fabulous giant tote bag.

When I asked where she found it she told me it was actually made from recycled billboards.  Seriously?!  I had to meet the guy who was behind this!  I got his card and called Donovan to offer him a stack of old vinyl signs I had stashed in my office storage room.  It felt great to see something that could have easily ended up in the landfill become a one of kind, quality accessories.

Earlier this year Donovan took his Retread business from the Internet to the streets with help from HomeResource and lots of love. Donovan opened Upcycled on the Hip Strip of Higgins Avenue in downtown Missoula.  It is a great place to find really cool and very well designed wallets, purses, messenger bags and pant leg straps for cyclists.

You’ll also find  Jax Hats made from salvaged sweaters, artwork, funky and functional home hardware, frames, jewelry and furniture from other Missoula eco-craftspeople.  Upcycled is a must have stop, and how great will you feel the next time the fabulous new purse you buy supports local business, artists and keeps unnecessary trash out of the landfill?

They’ll even take some of your recyclables to keep the process going!  Stop by 517 South Higgins for a good look!


Watch for Leah’s weekly Maiden Missoula reviews. Feel free to comment below and let her know what YOU make in Missoula!  Back to Maiden Missoula home blog page.

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Leah Lewis is living the dream on Missoula’s Northside with her handsome and handy husband Mark, daughters Zoe and Mila, two dogs and a cat.  She enjoys making things on her sewing machine, with her knitting needles and in her kitchen.  You can listen to her play today’s pop music every day on Fresh 104.5 FM.  You might catch Leah and her family relaxing in their backyard, cheering on the Missoula Osprey or rooting for the Lady Griz on any given weekend.