Turning Pull Tabs into Silk and Metal Purses

can tab worktable photo

ImaginArte's Arturo Buenrostro making aluminum bags and bowls. Photos by R. Curger

Flick your Bic and flip your tab -- again and again. When I lived in Mexico a while ago, two vendors had a stand in the Puebla zocalo where they refilled Bic lighters for a few pesos. It was an impressive recycling effort. On a recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, I found a tiny shiny shop that reclaimed and repurposed aluminum can tabs into an amazing array of jewelry, purses and clothes. And the owner of ImaginArte is on an environmental mission in Mexico.

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Aluminum pull tab coin purse at ImaginArte.

Arturo Buenrostro, the boutique owner, sat sewing the can tabs together with a women at a table near the entrance. A dazzling assortment of good stuffed ImaginArte's shelves: cute coin purses and shimmering evening bags, bangle bracelets and necklaces in silvery or metallic pastels, vests and dresses, bowls and boxes. When I asked about the process, he explained how he collected all the tabs at a recycling center near Mexico City.

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Eco-wheels easy guide to environmental alternatives.

Tagged "El Arte del Reciclado" -- the art of recycling -- Buenrostro doesn't just make fashionable accessories repurposed from tin cans. He's dedicated to environmental education and created three handy eco-wheels he distributes to provide tips to people on alternatives to toxic products, healthy foods and energy consumption. If you would like to order any of these items - from the purses to the handouts (in Spanish), Arturo can be contacted by email: imaginarte4@prodigy.net.mx

toxic alternatives image

Wondering about those ingenious guys that recycled Bic lighters? They'd poke a small hole in the plastic, squirt in lighter fluid and stick a straight pin in the hole, snip it off and file it down. Not very ecological in terms of toxic fumes these entrepreneurs ingested (they should've had Arturo's eco-wheels) but economical and instead of tossing the disposable lighters, they extended the life of the Bic.

can tab necklace photo

Gale rattles her Coke can jewels.

While I've seen these bags sold for big bucks as well as instructions online on how to weave them together, Buenrostro's crocheting method has an artisan's flair at an affordable price. It's one person's effort in Mexico's growing green movement, a clever reuse of materials and a efficient way to keep pull tabs out of landfill and smelters.


If you're in San Miguel de Allende, while browsing the local specialties of pewter-ware, sandals and unbleached apparel, stop in ImaginArte at Zacateros No. 42 Colonia Centro, Guanajuato, CP 37700. He inspired me to recycle my accumulation of Trader Joe coffee containers into seedling pots by poking holes in the bottom for drainage. So what stuff are you repurposing?

More on Mexico's environmental efforts:
Punk Rock Permaculture in Mexico City (Video)
Mexico Aims to Be Top Biofuel Producer With Algae Oil
Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Mexico

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