Since cycling is a sustainable mode of transport, perhaps it would be perfect to partner a bicycle with bags and accessories that are eco-friendly. That’s why it was interesting to learn that there’s a new Filipino brand that recycles old tarpaulins and turns it into functional bike bags.
Stu Balmaceda created Side B, a small bag brand that aims to turn “trash into treasure.” He launched last May and is currently offering five upcycled products — bike bag, fanny, sling bag, tote and a backpack — that are all made from discarded tarps.
“Medyo scavenger talaga ako and I hold on to a lot of things. Na if it’s not broken, if magagamit at maayos-ayos pa, eh ‘di gamitin pa rin natin,” Stu told First Bike Ride. “Madaming factors why I made this but I suppose it all boils down to the need for me to have a creative outlet but at the same time, do something with social impact.”
(I’m like a scavenger and I hold on to a lot of things. That if it’s not broken, if it’s still usable and can still be fixed, then we can still use it.)
His launching collection featured “BB3” which means “bike, belt and body bag.” The multi-function design of this product is ideal for those who like carrying light but important items on their rides.
When cyclists leave their bikes in the parking area, it’s very convenient to just detach the BB3 from the bicycle and convert it into its wearable form. This way, they can keep their belongings safe since they can easily carry it with them.
The idea of creating the BB3 was formulated after Stu realized that a bicycle bag can be something that he can use since he’s cycling too.
“I use a mountain bike to run errands for the bags. So parang ako, eh ‘di gumawa na rin ako na water resistant na magagamit ko rin,” he said. “Ginawa ko siya na casual and hybrid handlebar bag na pwedeng maging shoulder bag or fanny. It’s just to address my needs. It just so happens na nag-boom din ‘yung (cycling) lifestyle during this pandemic.”
(I use a mountain bike to run errands for the bags. So why not just make a water resistant bag that I can also use. I made a casual and hybrid handlebar bag that can be a shoulder bag or a fanny. It’s just to address my needs. It just so happens that the cycling lifestyle boomed during this pandemic.)
Side B bags are perfect for the weather in the Philippines. Since we get a lot of rain in the country, all items get protected from getting soaked since the products are all water resistant.
So far, all of the tarps that Stu has been using came from his network who learned about his upcycling business. The materials are all about to be discarded so it was really awesome that they have been transformed into something useful.
“’Yung konsepto lang talaga ng Side B is looking for another angle, looking for a different side na useful,” he said. “Napagsilbihan na nito ‘yung original niyang purpose, at merong mga hidden gems sa B sides. Let’s look for something valuable doon sa side na hindi masyadong napapansin.”
(The concept of Side B is looking for another angle, looking for a different side that’s useful. It has served its original purpose and there are hidden gems on its B sides. Let’s look for something valuable on the sides that are usually not seen.)
The idea of Side B started three years ago with Stu keeping in mind the value of “helping.” He wanted to start a business that must have a social impact like giving livelihood to a community or doing good for the environment.
Currently, Stu designs all the products of Side B and they are made by local shoemakers who have experience in creating bags.
The entrepreneur mentioned that it was not easy launching and managing this brand and he’s thankful for everyone who has been supportive and helpful to this venture — particularly those who give recommendations, tips and business lessons. But despite the struggles, especially juggling Side B with his day job, Stu feels fulfilled and happy.
Using upcycled materials like his bags might just be one of the little things that a person can do to live a sustainable lifestyle but Stu said that these small actions inspire.
“Side B is really more on encouraging and inspiring people and in our lives, we can make a difference. Kasi kailangan mo ng bag, but if you choose something na gusto rin naman makatulong, pwede na siya kumalat and inspire others — even in their habits to live a sustainable lifestyle,” he said.
(Side B is really more on encouraging and inspiring people and in our lives, we can make a difference. Because you need a bag, but if you choose something that’s helpful, it can inspire others — even in their habits to live a sustainable lifestyle.)
Find out more about Side B on their Instagram and Facebook pages.