The principal aims of this project are two. Firstly, reducing textile waste through sourcing and production through the eco-trend known as up cycling. And secondly, to incorporate these plans with the rich culture and tradition of an underdeveloped country – showing the capability of Bolivian artisans and the heritage of their weaving techniques.
WHAT IS UPCYCLING
Problem solving is at the heart of the up-cycling design process. Upcycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
It is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other half of the recycling process.(downcycling involves converting materials and products into new materials of lesser quality.) Most recycling involves converting or extracting useful materials from a product and creating a different product or material.
Is up cycling a viable solution when it comes to dealing with reducing the negative repercussions of the fashion industry’s toll on our planet’s environment?
I would argue that taking measures to re use old textiles will be immensely beneficial towards this cause; in a world endlessly consuming our natural recourses, causing catastrophic damage to the environment and human well-being, recycling and reusing is of rising importance on many different levels as a global human solution. It is both within the production processes and the behavior towards a products life cycle, that an abundant amount of textile waste is generated. This textile waste is most likely to rest on a landfill or -small percentages of it- sold to fiber recycling. As waste just keeps building up, it becomes more key for designers to utilize these materials.
· The average lifetime of a piece of clothing is only about 3 years.
· The consumer is the biggest culprit. In the U.S., manufacturers recycle 75 percent of pre-consumer textile waste, but only 15 percent of post-consumer textile waste is recycled.
· The average American throws away about 70 pounds of clothing, shoes and other household textiles each year.
· Americans generate almost 13 million tons of textile waste per year. Brits generate about 1.12 million tons of textile waste a year.
· Even though the U.K. appears to generate less textile waste, one in five Brits admit to throwing away a garment after a single wear. This means that more than $127 million of clothing winds up in landfills each year after being worn once.
There are more textiles produced in the world today than can be used — many of the large clothing chains can produce as many as a half a billion garments a year. And what happens to those clothes after they have fulfilled their ‘useful’ lives? If not discarded as trash, unwanted apparel is often donated to thrift stores. Though a good step toward avoiding the landfill, this is not as beneficial as people think – only about 20 to 30 percent of donated clothing is actually re-sold. And the drastic increase in the volume of secondhand clothing has driven down its value in the past 15 years — meaning that charity shop stores are now filled with cheap fashion and junky basics instead of vintage gems.
In addition, massive amounts of donated clothing that are not deemed as ‘re-sellable’ in the U.S. are shipped to developing countries, inundating them with unnecessary goods that stifle any emerging economic development in textiles. While many people may have the idea that they are helping clothe the poor in these countries, access to the Internet and cell phones has made many of these countries more fashion-forward recently, and they may have no interest in our American cast-offs. Since this model relies on a waste economy — where instead of mending clothes or leasing clothes, items are bought and discarded — what happens when exportation is no longer an option?
This is why I want to focus on diverting textile waste from landfill back into the hands of producers, giving this waste an afterlife and longevity.
Bolivia is a country located in the heart of South America, a land-locked nation that to this day upholds it’s cultural heritage and traditions very passionately.
Textile handicrafts are an essential part of Andean culture that dates back over 10,000 years. This ancient art form has predominately been undertaken by cholitas (indigenous women) in rural areas as a means of earning extra income while the men work the fields. Today, these women continue to use a variety of traditional techniques and materials to produce colorful artworks that are becoming a popular commodity throughout the western world.
The art of weaving, practiced in distinctive forms over thousands of years by Indigenous Peoples of the Andes, is both a practical and symbolic act of creation. The pieces that form over the course of months become skirts, capes and ponchos worn today by many people who live in rural areas, and live on in their imaginations
The concept I’m proposing will fulfill these two important topics through 3 main business values:
1 — Empowering People
We celebrate diversity and a human-centric approach through initiatives that empower people. Supporting small businesses and local Bolivian artisans, providing them with fair and ethical working conditions and pay, allowing them to show and improve their skills and heritage, and sharing the stories behind the process and the women who create the products.
2 — Producing Responsibly
With a focus on doing more with less, the business will be dedicated to reducing the environmental impacts we would have, and promote a more responsible way to experience fashion. We commit to sourcing otherwise wasted textile allowing us to reduce waste through small-batch production. We commit to transparent practices by providing information about supply chains, enabling customers to make informed choices about their purchases.
3 — Elevating Craftsmanship & Preserving Culture
Inspired by heritage techniques and the rare skill and trained precision of artisans around the world, we believe in using modern design to create new markets for age-old art forms. We strive to elevate consumer perception of global artisanship by placing master craftspeople in developing countries like in this case, Bolivia