Words and photo by Angela Clark
When we think of items that are harmful to the environment we rarely consider our unwanted clothes.
But every time we throw an unwanted outfit into the bin it ends up decomposing on a landfill site somewhere and the material produces gases, known as carbon dioxide and methane – all contributing to global warming.
The manufacture of the clothes also causes water pollution, with toxic chemicals needed to give materials their prints and vibrant colours polluting water supplies and drinking water in developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
She hopes by teaching people to sew they will save money and help reduce the impact of overbuying to protect the environment.
Rose said: “I’m from Africa, we don’t throw things away. We did a lot of sewing in school so you learnt how to repair your clothes.
“When you have clothes you make sure you wear them as much time as possible. I have that passion of not wasting things because in my mind when I think of people who need things and then I see people throwing them away, it’s not good.”
The sewing workshops ensure people get the most out of their unwanted items.
They teach people the basic skills they need to repair broken zips, to make alterations, shorten items and how to reuse the material to make something new from it.
Rose said: “We do lots of up-cycling with clothes that no-one wants, we make toiletry bags, pencil cases.
“We also run a Kids Club, they have made bags out of t-shirts and we try to inspire a culture of respect where children grow up and use old things.
“We are trying to encourage people to buy things only when they need it and when you no longer need it make sure pass it on to someone or to a charity shop or one of the local swap shops.”
The group run regular swap shops were local people can take their unwanted clothes and exchange them for a whole new wardrobe saving them money and protecting the environment.
These run from Monday to Thursday in Whitecrook Business centre alongside Nichola who runs the Recycle Room based in the Hub CE centre.
Nichola Mable aid: “We try to get people to understand not everything needs to be brand new. I always had stuff passed down to me.
“My first flat looked like a multi-coloured swap shop. I had stuff from my Granny, my Mum, aunts’ stuff and things from charity shops.”
Nichola started the recycle room four years ago to help the local community.
The service is free and relies on donations of clothes and household items that people no longer use.
There are no restrictions about who can use the service whether you are working or on benefits, all items that people take reduces the amount of items sent to landfill and saves you money.
Out with the New, In with the Old
Nichola added: “Charity shops sell secondhand items that you could walk into Primark and buy new at the same price, so it makes it easier for people to throw things away, it’s definitely become a generation thing.”
Two generations ago during World War Two the government introduced the Make Do and Mend scheme to encourage people to repair clothes that were worn out.
It encouraged people to be creative in their ideas and gave them invaluable skills that we have lost along the way because clothes are so cheap just to replace.
Thanks to people like Rose and Nichola who are following old traditions, more people are open to learning new skills and recycling their unwanted clothes.
Hopefully they will encourage the next generation to do the same, leaving them a legacy we can all be proud of.