A pivotal part of her work and designs is upcycling. Reet herself has defined upcycling as a process of “converting leftover materials into something new and beautiful by adapting the production processes with the help of design. As a result, new and fresh add-on styles can be produced”. In order to gain more knowledge and develop the field of up-cycling, Reet decided to embark on a PhD at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Her thesis and the up-cycled designs of her students were presented under the title ‘Trash to Trend’. Later on, her doctoral research gave birth to a networking platform carrying the same name. The purpose of the platform is to create possibilities for upcyclers to share, communicate and sell their creations.
For several years Reet and her team have been involved in an innovative research project together with Beximco, the largest vertically-integrated fabric and garment producer in Bangladesh. The collaboration between the two partners aims for upcycling to be implemented into the regular production processes of Beximco. This has been proven to save resources, increase efficiency and significantly reduce environmental impacts. Upcycling could potentially reduce at least 65% of waste created by the production processes in Beximco annually.
Reet Aus’ new upcycled collections are renamed AusDesign, and are produced in partnership with the Beximco factory. As well as Estonia, Ausdesigns can be found in stores in the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland. Her lines are purchasable online as well.
In her native Estonia, The Reet Aus collections are part of the project "Re-use" in collaboration with Taaskasutuskeskus (Recycling Centre), which aims to promote environmental sustainability in fashion, theatre and film. Reet and her team are working actively on promoting the message of upcycling, for example by organising design contests and keeping a blog.