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What About Offcuts?

New Year, New (Re)Solutions

Happy 2019! What a big year we have had behind us, in terms of the difficult relationship between fashion and the environment slowly emerging into the world’s consciousness. The dangers of plastic are now widely accepted, and I think fashion is next. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion: I love making clothes, I love wearing beautiful clothes, I love dressing up, I love dressing down, I love turning into a version of myself that is fully up to me to express. But I don’t love how we consume fashion, and ‘consuming’ fashion is exactly my issue: consuming to me means you use something and then it becomes useless after you have consumed it. So that would mean if I buy a t-shirt, I use it, and then I get rid of it because I have ‘consumed’ it. Since when did clothing become a consumable? That makes no sense to me, and I do blame fast fashion. It’s so easy to fall for as well, and that’s okay, big companies know what they’re doing. But there is a smell of defiance in the air, don’t you think? It smells like awareness and sewing to me!

Some of us will have spent Christmas sewing projects that we didn’t get to finish in the pre-holiday rush; some of us have relaxed with some knitting or embroidery; some of us have learnt a new crafting skill; some of us received a sewing-related gift and have already started on it; and some of us (like yours truly) took a break from sewing to rest our fingers. But perhaps most of us have collected a bag of fabric scraps, and now that it’s 2019 it doesn’t look so good in our home, sitting there like a reminder of 2018, not contributing to our sense of new beginnings and new ideas. Let us help!

Our Scrap Partners In Crime

On our website you will find some companies that are collaborating with us to take your scraps. They will use them for different purposes, but always ensuring your scraps don’t stay unused in the corner of your room. Your scraps might become eye masks or phone covers, be used for eco-luxury fashion items, or simply make someone else happy. One person’s scrap is another person’s treasure! It can be hard to find places to donate your scraps to, which is why I was so keen to collaborate with a few amazing companies so that you don’t have to do the research. I know from my own life that that’s the area where I slip up when it comes to recycling: when I can’t easily find where to go for recycling certain items.

First Mile Recycling & Textile Recycling Association

If you are a business and you would like fabric recycling at work, First Mile Recycling serves businesses in London and Birmingham. This way you can have a scrap fabric bin at work and it will be picked up and recycled, kept out of landfill entirely. They also have a service where they can provide your business with a clothing recycling bin, so staff can drop unwanted items at work. You can read more about that here.

If you have a one-off situation where you find yourself with a lot of fabric scraps, you can see if any of the companies with the Textile Recycling Association will take it. Recycling facilities all over the UK are linked up to this scheme.

Charity Shops

You could phone your local charity shop and ask if they would take your fabric scraps. A lot of them do, to sell as stuffing for craft project or sell to keen quilters. Charity shops of course also take your unwanted items of clothing. It’s worth noting that charity shops can’t always sell everything they have been given, due to poor quality. So I would recommend only donating items that you know can be sold, as charity shops are forced to sell the rest on, often to countries around the world with poor economies. Charity shops also take bolts of fabric, so if you are having a proper clear out in your fabric stash and you want your fabrics to go to a new home in a charitable way, you could go down this route as well.

Donate Your Clothes

If any of your home made or shop bought items have come to the end of their lives, you can of course donate these as well. Maybe they are beyond repair or maybe you have been watching Marie Kondo’s tidying show on Netflix! All over the UK you can use Traid. They have clothing banks, shops, and provide recycling education, and even offer free collection if you have a lot that needs a new home. Traid takes bolts of fabrics as well, which is worth noting if you work in the industry.

On RecycleNow you can find clothing recycling points that are local to you. These collection points will typically take shoes, clothing, and household linens (bedding and towels). On the Textile Recycling Association website you can find recycling facilities that take used clothing as well.

Traid is actively involved in reducing the impact that clothing has on our planet by setting up the 23% Campaign, which highlights the fact that 23% of Londoner’s clothing is unused.

Image source and copyright: Traid UK. 

Inspiration

If you have textiles or clothing to donate, you could always try with the place where you originally bought it from, donate it to a school or a theatre, a sewing school or craft café, or organise a swap with someone else. Do you know of any great initiatives where you live? I would love to hear about it! Below are some amazing initiatives in other parts of the world:

FabScrap in New York City, the US

Doodlage in India

Our Social Fabric in Vancouver, Canada

Sisterworks in Victoria, Australia

King Cotton in Sydney (+surroundings) and Melbourne (+surroundings), Australia

New Year, New Chances

I hope you are feeling inspired to tackle a new area of your sewing. Your sewing space will be happier, you will be happier, and our planet will be happier! I think there is so much that will change when it comes to textile recycling in the next 24 months, as right now it still requires a bit of research as to what you can do with your offcuts as a regular consumer. We can all help the process along a little by actively making use of the resources already available to us, demanding more from our shops and our recycling facilities, and passing on what we learn.

It’s also good to remember when it comes to tidying our spaces, that actually the most sustainable solution to anything that we have made or bought, whether it be fabric or clothes or other items, is to use it for as long as we possibly can. A long product life is the least stressful for the planet. The next best thing is recycling. Keeping our things out of landfill is the key, so I hope the tips above have given you some ideas and inspiration!

 

Love,
Caroline

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