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Textile Waste - Deconstruction and Reconstruction

There have been many posts lately about textile waste, fast fashion and the dumping of clothing on the third world.

the title to the movie - the hidden burden of fashion waste
the hidden burden of fashion waste

“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When you throw something away, it must go somewhere” — Annie Leonard

"Many of us donate our unwanted clothes to charity shops & clothing collection banks - but do we really know what happens to them then? Globally, 70% of our donated clothing is baled and sold to textile merchants who ship them overseas for resale in Sub-Saharan Africa. Textile Mountain exposes the social and environmental cost of the second hand clothing trade, tracing the path of our unwanted garments from recycling bins in Europe to landfills and waterways in the Global South. Shot in Kenya, Ireland and Belgium, this film calls on us to re-imagine the way the way we design, wear and reuse our clothes - so that our fashion waste no longer becomes another country’s burden."

People buy too much stuff. Not just textiles - everything.

In the 1990's I dove deep into the world of reuse and recycling of all household items. I researched and read extensively about the subject. Online sites, blogs and many books.

I began with this one

use less stuff - the book
use less stuff - the book

The authors state, that recycling, is not enough and will not truly solve the problems of waste production unless other patterns of consumption and use are changed. The solution they say, is to use less stuff.

And then I decided to study as much as I could about reuse, bearing in mind budget constraints and looking for simple solutions to adapt to daily life.

beyond recycling - the book
beyond recycling - the book

This book offers over 300 tips for reusing everyday items. Alphabetical organization makes the book easy to use, and helpful resources are included at the end of many tips.

choose to reuse-  the book
choose to reuse - the book

The authors here have compiled a reference of many resources on more than 200 topics, providing information on how to reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, restore, reclaim, refill, recharge, and resell everything from air filters to zippers

In my teaching I decided to focus on the reuse of textiles. After all I had extensive experience with that.

When teaching I make a point of only using upcycled and second hand fabrics.

I teach to deconstruct and use up every bit down to the threads.

When shirts are deconstructed we end up with pieces of fabric, collars, cuffs, labels and buttons

deconstructed mens button down shirts
deconstructed shirts

Collars which can be used to embellish shirts or as a base for textile jewelry

shirt collars
shirt collars

Cuffs as a base for button or yoyo bracelets

shirt cuffs
shirt cuffs

Upcycled buttons into jewelry

When deconstructing jeans, zippers are removed and unpicked for further use

deconstruction zippers taken from pants
deconstructing zippers

Students choosing zippers - they have to deconstruct and unpick them :)

children choosing zippers in class
children choosing zippers in class

Pockets are removed for use on bags and clothing and pouches

pockets from jean pants
jean pockets

And even the top stitched seams are deconstructed for further use

seams from jean pants
jean seams

Very small pieces of fabric are used to make bookmarks

a patchwork bookmark made with very small fabric pieces
a patchwork bookmark

Strips of fabric can be used as knitting threads

knitting with cotton strips
knitting with cotton strips

The children bring torn and used t shirts from home and learn to make scarves from them

Threads and fabric strips

fabric strips and threads
fabric strips and threads

Can be made into beautiful fabric beads

Every last thread of deconstructed fabrics and clothing can be reused.

One just has to learn how.

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