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An Upcycling morning

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

I had a fun morning today. On friday mornings I run an adult sewing class and this morning decided to take them to the local charity store to show them first hand what is available locally for fabric upcycling.

For a change I managed to get up early. The charity bargain (yes there is such a thing) market is held on Fridays and is open from 6 am till 11 am. I arrived at 6:30 am. There were already 15 people there and due to present restirctions they could not allow more people inside. For those who waited outside there were shopping carts full of merchandise and the price for each item was 1 shekel. That is the equivalent of about 25 cents.

I have a group next week where I will be teaching how to make fabric scarves so I purchased a few t shirts from the 1 shekel per item pile for that.

I had arranged to meet my students there and they came in drips and drabs. They were allowed in one at a time.They had never been there before so it was really fun for me to see the sparkle in their eyes when they went through the piles of sheets and cloth and began to comprehend the possibilites.

Now they could purchase a sheet for 3 shekels and use it to create their "trial " pieces when desinging something new without becoming upset with the cost of fabric.

I was delighted by how quickly they caught on to buying second hand clothing. These were real converts, some of them had never purchased second hand before.

Each one came away from there with a huge bag. One of them even told the cashier that she must have made a mistake when she added up her bill, that it was too cheap.

After that we came back to the studio. I did a detour and bought Hannuka sufganiot/doughnuts. I brewed a pot of coffee and then we sat down and discussed the morning's adventure.

One of the things that they were amazed at was the amount of items. I explained, having run a non profit store myself for a number of years that there are many second hand items in Israel. People have lots of clothes, sheets, pillows and blankets. People here also donate a lot. The charity stores end up with piles and piles of stuff.

There is a down side to this as well. If they do not move the stuff out and onwards the place gets clogged up and after a while can even become a health hazard. So these organizations must have some kind of system in place.

Receipt of goods, sorting - for sale, further donation to other charities or schools or day care centers and some kind of viable working arrangement with the recycle textile industry.

The recycle industry has also undergone changes. They want more specific items these days. Their potential client base has changed. Africa doesn't want our used clothes anymore. The recycle industry has some local clients, white cotton t shirts to the optics industry, cotton sweatshirts and pants to the garages for use as cleaning rags to absorb oil. Some products are still exported as second hand clothing to Europe and Jeans always have a market.

It is interesting to see that this concept is catching on world wide. The upcycling, reusing concept is one that I have adopted since my first visit to the the second hand Indian Market in Pretoria, South Africa as a very small child. It was thrilling to see how many vividly colored and original pieces of clothing I could purchase for 25 cents . It was an adventure then to shop second hand, and still is now even after more than 50 years.

"Textile and clothing recycling is beneficial from both an environmental and economic aspect. Through the recycling of used garments and textiles, we can avoid water pollution and energy intensive production of new clothing. Additionally, clothing that cannot be reused can be recreated and recycled into other products."

Many companies are creating recycle and reuse initiatives Bossa is one of them "Recycling is an important theme for Bossa as natural resources become increasingly limited. The company reuses their own textile production waste by turning them into raw material, and also works with fibres obtained from plastic bottles as part of their r-PET project."

"Everything old is new again, at least where the denim industry is concerned. Mills are churning out fabrics made from castoff clothing and brands and retailers are relishing these so-called “recycled” jeans as they move from niche to norm."

And some more reading from The Guardian

Reuse, renew, recycle! Is making new from old the future of fashion?

Using ‘deadstock’, the leftovers from clothes manufacturing, to create something new isn’t just environmentally sound, it’s surprisingly inspiring...

And to end with some food for thought why it is important to reuse and not produce.

"Humans make so much ‘stuff’ it now outweighs life on Earth – Israeli researchIn an environmental ‘wake-up call,’ scientists say mankind’s impact on planet so huge that our creations weigh more than ‘living biomass,’ and plastic weighs more than all animals

In a new peer-reviewed article in the journal Nature, Milo’s team from the Weizmann Institute of Science found that with people constantly reducing living biomass and adding human-made mass, 2020 is the approximate date of the “crossover.” Around now, living biomass weighs approximately 1 teratonne, and human-made mass weighs in at around 1.1 teratonnes, he reported. A teratonne is a trillion metric tonnes, and a metric tonne is about 1.1 tons."

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