Rags2Riches offers designer accessories based entirely on recycled materials – but that’s not why people are talking about them. It’s their commitment to social good that’s setting them apart, the company pairing up the impoverished people of Payatas with some of the Philippines’ most reputable fashion designers (Rajo Laurel is the first one so far) to help elevate the area’s standard of living.

Payatas is the main waste dumpsite of Manila. People who live in Payatas have been known for their ingenuity in the face of desperation. They scavenge through piles of garbage for raw materials to make new products. This economically forsaken place represents the cottage underground of sustainable goods. The problem has been the people’s lack of access to market knowledge and their vulnerability to the opportunists – fine-tuned to the desperation – who buy from them at next-to-nothing prices (even for Philippine standards).

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