A dynamic designer, Maria Ruffatti works with recycled materials, in this case, with worn-out tires. She uses them in surprising ways, creating handbags and accessories. <br><br> "It all began thanks to my aunt, who has an amazing creativity. Our family had access to leather and began to craft small items. I saw everything they made and was interested in the beautiful things we can make with our hands. <br><br> "I started creating handbags. At first, I worked with leather, which I combined with dyed fabrics. They were quite successful and each design I sold just motivated me more. <br><br> "Some time later, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar where I realized how the vast quantities of things we throw away damage the environment. Immediately, a thousand ideas came to mind. <br><br> "I knew I had to do something about this extremely worrisome matter. And what could be better than reusing materials that had outlived their usefulness? Together with my husband, Arnoldo, I began to work with tires. <br><br> "We began little by little. At first, the material was easy to obtain although, with time and the demand, it got a little complicated. But that hasn't stopped us from creating new designs that are always innovative. We want to do our own small part to reduce the waste that harms our planet. <br><br> "I feel very fortunate to be able to continue with this project because we're helping the environment. In addition, I've fulfilled my dreams of developing as a designer. I began from zero and taught myself until I mastered this art. I dream of seeing my handbags in shops all over the world because it's not just a product, a sale, or a business. I'm creating an awareness that we must take care of Mother Earth."