The textile industry has changed a lot over the past few decades. There used to be four fashion seasons a year; now there can be as many as 15 to keep up with, depending on what store you’re shopping in. In the past, apparel was made to last. Pieces were lovingly mended and repaired instead of thrown away. Clothes are now often priced so low that it is almost too easy to accumulate more than we could ever wear, and send trash bags full of unwanted items to thrift stores or the landfill.
In fact, according to the EPA, the amount of clothes sent to landfills by Americans has doubled in the last twenty years. 15.1 trillion tons of textile waste was generated in 2013 alone. That’s about 80 pounds of clothes per person.
The fashion industry is complex and so are its problems. However, while fast fashion has inspired many to fill their closets with clothes they will likely only wear a few times, it has also moved many to think beyond the trends to find solutions to the rapidly growing problem of waste.
There are many innovative ways to keep clothing out of landfills. Services like ThredUp and Poshmark are online shopping destinations for quality second-hand clothes. Clothing swap parties are becoming a trend. Environmentally conscious brands like Patagonia offer guides and DIYs to mending your own clothes, and even repair and resell items their customers no longer want. And of course, simply buying clothes meant to last and wearing them longer helps too.
Our partners at Prokritee in Bangladesh are no strangers to sustainability and innovation. They have been using their sewing and weaving skills to repurpose traditional sari fabric for years. Their creative designs allow worn and discarded saris to have a second life. They are carefully washed and used to create functional bags, baskets, and even cards and furniture.
A tisket a tasket…
… A gorgeous sari basket. A longtime favorite, these baskets are hand woven with strips of the repurposed sari and a local and fast-growing natural resource, kaisa grass. Because saris vary so widely in color and design, each basket is completely unique.
Put all your cards on the table
There’s nothing quite as nice as receiving a hand written letter. And when it is written on stationery that is made from handmade paper and recycled saris, it’s even nicer! The women of Shuktara Handmade Paper Project in Feni, Bangladesh, a workshop of our artisan partner Prokritee have come up with the perfect way to reuse textiles. They’ve turned them into beautiful cards. With a blank writing space and a varied assortment of colors and designs, they are fit for any occasion.
The best seat in the house
This is one of the most unique pieces of furniture you will ever see. Midcentury Modern inspired, the body of this chair is made from repurposed sari. Pieces of discarded and washed saris are carefully turned into twine, which is then woven around a sturdy metal frame. No two chairs are alike, but they will all bring a pop of cheerful color to your space.
Imagine a brighter world
The women who made this inspiring and functional piece of wall art know a thing or two about imagining a brighter world. They have broken free from the sex trade and joined Pobitra, a program where they can learn about personal health and hygiene, their basic human rights, and how to read and write. As they move through the program, they are also taught a marketable skill, and have opportunities to work in fair trade workshops, like Sacred Mark Enterprise. It is a time to dream about their futures and rebuild their lives. These women make some of the most beautiful recycled sari creations.
May your adventures be as colorful as the book where you record them. Containing 50 pages of handmade paper, with a cover woven from recycled sari cloth, this journal was handcrafted by the women of Biborton Handmade Paper, a workshop of our artisan partner Prokritee in Bangladesh. As with all of our repurposed sari items, each journal is as unique as the thoughts you write inside.