Scraps, a blog post by EcoGoodz, a mixed rags supplier

Have you ever cut the legs off of a pair of jeans to make shorts? Have you ever cut up a t-shirt to make a tank top? What did you do with your scraps? 100 years ago those scraps might have been kept and reused. Today they probably tossed in the trash without a moment’s notice.

The fashion industry has changed dramatically in the last 100 years. Even in the last 50 years there has been a drastic change in nearly every facet of the fashion and clothing industry: from the textiles themselves (with the invention of synthetic fabrics) to the way their manufactured to our very attitude about the clothing we buy and wear. Used clothing, for example, and the secondhand clothing industry (including credential clothing and mixed rags) are increasing as people purchase and then discard more and more.

On exhibit right now at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse.  “Offering creative, alternative approaches to confronting textile waste, Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse presents the work of three designers who put sustainability at the heart of the design process…Through more than forty works, the exhibition explores key facets of sustainability, such as the efficient use of materials and resources, the preservation of local craft traditions and the integration of new technologies in the recycling process.” (source)

Scraps_Installation_10 cropped for website

The takeaway for most people who view the exhibit is (hopefully) a greater sense of where our clothing and textiles come from, and how they can be used, worn, and reused in order to reduce wasteful practices. Regarding consumerism and textile waste, Susan Brown, associate curator of textiles, and Matilda McQuaid, deputy curatorial director and head of textiles had this to say:

Maybe we should stop describing ourselves as consumers. We all need things, but we can be makers, fixers, and sharers of things, too.

We can buy less, and care for and mend the things we have. We can buy vintage or thrift, or organize a clothing swap with our friends.

When buying new, we should look for items that are recyclable, avoiding, for example, blended fibers, which are difficult or impossible to separate for recycling.

And when we’re sure something is truly worn out, take advantage of textile and clothing recycling collection points.

Well said, don’t you think?