The beauty of upcycling
"Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones." -- Bruce Garrabrandt
Since second hand September I have been very conscious of fabric waste and fast fashion clothing and have been on the lookout for creative people on Instagram and Etsy. Since lockdown and the impact of Coronavirus of business, I am of a mindset to support local and small businesses even more than before. I love it, especially when people are creating something from waste materials or clothing that they no longer wear and have transformed into something else. I have seen this a lot throughout lockdown as people have created their own face masks from materials around the house. As I work in a local supermarket I get to talk to a lot of people and one little girl told me she tried to make one out of an old sock, which I found absolutely hilarious (apparently it didn't work out very well haha). It's the thought that counts though right!
Buying things which are hand made are a better alternative for the environment when it comes down to energy consumption. Hand produced goods don't require the same level of energy as products mass-produced on an assembly line. If it's hand made from recycled or upcycled materials even better! You do need to factor in the impact of shipping and distribution. For example, if you are buying something hand made and local (say at arts and crafts fair) you have hit the eco jackpot! I love the individuality of hand made goods and in these times I would rather my money be going to a creative person on Etsy rather than a business tycoon.
In my browsing of Esty, I came across Priya. Priya is the owner and creator of the Pri Pri store on Etsy which was established out of her love for Indian clothing and fabrics and is a perfect example of how to make something beautiful out of something forgotten or unused. She was taught to sew by her grandma and her story reminded me of my Mum teaching me to sew when I was younger (although Pryia is far better at sewing than I am now). She first began making hand made kids wear and tote bags from saris which belonged to her mother- “I try to make sure nothing is wasted, especially when there’s so much fast fashion that goes to landfill. Every piece is hand-finished to a high standard, which means they really embody that satisfaction you get.”. She kindly sent me one of her tote bags so I can take a look at her work, and my goodness the fabric really is beautiful and she combines the fabrics so well! Her tote bags are totally awesome and I think they would make a great alternative to single-use gift bags which are often made with glitter and plastic. These gorgeous bags would be a great way to give people presents as they are bright and colourful thanks to the sari material, as they are a reusable bag they are a gift in itself. Priya has also made a range of adult and kids sized face masks made from old saris so if you are looking for an extra mask this an eye-catching and jazzy (do people still say jazzy) way to go! Considering that textile can take 200+ years to breakdown in landfill this is a great method for extending the life of these garments and the use of sari fabric and preventing it from going to landfill.
Pri Pri is an example of an eco-conscious but also socially conscious business as Priya has established links with a foundation to support disadvantaged women. "I found a wonderful social initiative in India called Animedh Charitable Trust, who work with Indian women from disadvantaged backgrounds and train them in tailoring. It means a lot to me that every Pri Pri piece helps to empower these women with skills that can help transform their lives.". I think it is wonderful to find a small business like Priya's who is already making an effort to give back. Priya now outsources her bag and mask designs to Animedh Charitable Trust to produce and makes an effort to use pre-loved saris. This means that Pri Pri is directly making an effort to provide the women in the social initiative with work that will provide them with life long skills. Here at Practical Green Life, I am always trying to find ways to support the environment but also people, so discovering businesses like these really excites me. There is a lot of intention behind every product and you know that the money you spend matters and goes towards something important. It is reasons like these that I would like to support individual creative people over giant businesses mass-producing the same products.
The phrase “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is extremely important and I think people often forget about the reusing part. I have some worries about the face masks I have been seeing around. There are now far more reusable options than at the beginning of the Covid outbreak but they all seem to made from poor quality fabrics which will later just add to the fast fashion issue that we are already facing. So Pryia’s gorgeous masks made from sari’s are a stylish and fashionable way to get your eco-friendly face masks! In fact, she has practically made an eco-friendly shopping set from upcycled materials. This is the kind of thing more people need to be doing or looking out for.
"Since the 1990s, consumer behaviour has shifted towards shopping for new clothes frequently, but as consumers purchase more and more clothing, more and more textile waste ends up in landfills. To put it into perspective, in less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans threw away each year doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons. "
We really need to start taking action on how we treat old clothing and changing our perception of throwing things away. Because the truth is it never actually goes 'away' it just goes somewhere else. Out of sight and out of mind I suppose, but we are only creating a problem for us to deal with later. So let's get inventive and creative as Priya has. I wonder what beautiful things we can make from upcycling old clothing or materials. I would love to challenge people to get more creative and try to make something old into something new! Let me know in the comments what you have made recently?