WE SPEAK TO THE LOCAL CHARITY TACKLING TEXTILE WASTE – AND BOOSTING MENTAL HEALTH – WITH SEWING! PICKING UP THE THREADS Sew Positive
WORDS BY ALEX FICE
W hatever your thoughts on the fashion industry, clothes are crucial. Not only do they keep us warm and dry, but they help us express ourselves, conveying aspects of personality, taste and the cultures or trends that we subscribe to. The problem is, in recent years, consumption of clothing has gone through a dizzying increase; in the last two decades alone, the amount of clothes being bought around the world has doubled, with over 80 billion garments made every year. Each item of clothing uses a vast quantity of energy, raw materials, chemicals, labour and water in its production, making fast fashion a pressing environmental challenge faced by the planet. To make matters worse, a great deal of this clothing gets thrown away after just a few wears. According to Love Your Clothes, a campaign created by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), around 336,000 tonnes of clothing is thrown away each year in the UK. Most of this is either sent to landfill or burnt, releasing toxic fumes from the chemicals used during the manufacturing process.
DID YOU KNOW?
It takes 3,000 litres of water to make just one cotton shirt
their carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%. So this is an action we can all take to reduce the environmental impact of what we wear. Initiatives like Sew Positive teach people how to mend or upcycle clothes in Cambridge and the local area. Established as an officially registered charity back in December 2020, Sew Positive nurtures vulnerable people through mental health issues with free sewing workshops, helping to reduce feelings of social exclusion – especially in the wake of the pandemic. They also raise awareness about limiting the damage caused by our fashion habits. “Donating clothes to charity is great, but we all need to take more personal responsibility for our textile consumption,” says Melissa Santiago-Val, founder of Sew Positive. “Lots of unwanted clothing ends up in landfill in developing countries, as charity shops struggle to cope with the quantity that cannot be resold. Although this benefits charities, it doesn’t solve the issue of disposable fashion.” Sew Positive’s workshops and courses give people the basic sewing skills required to make, repair, mend, upcycle and repurpose clothes and textiles. “We recommend keeping textiles and reusing or refurbishing them, often turning them into
One of the simplest and most obvious solutions to this problem is to recycle your clothes once they no longer meet your needs. And yet, in the UK, 41% of people admit they are unsure of how to recycle their garments. Extending the life of your clothes by just nine months can reduce
PURPLE PATCH Sewing is all the rage – and its wellbeing benefits are only beginning to be uncovered
56 FEBRUARY 2023 CAMBSEDITION.CO.UK
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