It’s not often we can say that our grandparents were more ‘woke’ than us. But it turns out that by knitting and repairing that jumper for 50 years, nanna was being an eco warrior.
Throwing away clothes was a big no no in the past but with the advent of mass production and cheap labour, our generation is more than happy to mix up our style every few months and chuck ‘last months’ look in the bin. There’s nothing wrong with looking sharp, but the rise of fast fashion is having a serious strain on the environment - so much so that it is the second biggest polluter in the world after the oil industry.
Now we’re not saying everyone should still be walking around in their shell suits but why not check your local charity shop first before heading to the big chains. Even better - why not up-cycle your old clothes into new items.
All through the summer D-Lab will be hosting textile up-cycling workshops with local teacher Emma Moor-Radford where you can learn how to recycle your old clothes and fabrics into a fresh look and make a huge difference to the environment. There are workshops for kids every Thursday morning and an adult evening session on the same day.
How bad can one cheap t-shirt be for the environment?
Well we did some research to discover the social and environmental impact of just one cheap t-shirt from a well known high-street shop.
First of all fill up your bath, add some weed killer and then empty it - repeat 30 times!
Overall 30 billion cubic metres of fresh water are used every year in fibre production.
Next up you’ll need a cocktail of 3500 chemicals, including many that are carcinogenic - pour these out onto your vegetable patch or find a local river.
The process of dying, coating, softening, and preparing clothes is contaminating local food and water supplies for communities around the world.
Now it’s time to travel! Take your material and hop on a plane to Bangledesh or China as it only costs £35 a month to hire a child to sew those t-shirts up for you. Try not to ask too many questions!
Cheap labour is essential to keep the price of clothes down - workers are often abused and forced to work long hours in poor conditions. Last November 112 Primark garment workers died in a factory fire, and then 1400 were killed when another factory collapsed in bangledesh.
Okay time to jump on a boat to Europe or America.
Clothes are shipped and flown around the world during there production cycle contributing to global co2 emmissions.
Finally fill up your bath again - you’ll need about 16,000 Gallons of water - the average amount of water used to wash your clothes over a year. Each time chuck some more chemicals and micro-plastics into your local water supply or maybe feed the fishes some tiny plastic fibres!
Washing and tumble-drying clothes releases micro-fibres and plastics into the water and food supply.
Imagine how just recycling one t-shirt could have a huge positive effect on the environment! Can’t wait to get started making cool clothes and saving the environment? Sign up for our weekly eco-stichup club today.