Superior sussex log cabin glamping

Rethinking waste: fabric

Upcycling fabric to create soft furnishings

Rethinking waste - fast fashion - upcycling fabric

Rethinking waste part 3: fabric

In Rethinking Waste: part 1 – pencils and part 2 – books we looked at what happens to our waste and how we could rethink their purpose to make them useful again.  

This article tackles  an industry that has hugely detrimental effect on the environment: fashion.

The scary stats  behind fast fashion

The fashion industry is responsible for an estimated 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and has the fifth largest carbon footprint of any industry, according to the World Economic Forum. 

So what are we doing about it? Very little it seems.

  • We purchase synthetic fabrics... which rely on fossil fuels.
  • We demand cheap clothes, so companies use factories in developing countries who regularly dump  harmful chemicals in waterways.  Around half a million tons of microfibre, which is the equivalent of three million barrels of oil, is being dumped into the ocean every year.
  • We keep purchasing new stuff, and that requires some 93 billion cubic metres of water annually (which is enough to meet the needs of five million people)  
  • We discard quickly – according to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill.


Rethinking waste - fast fashion - upcycling fabric

A good pair of jeans can be recycled. Read more about how fashion designers are working together to redesign jeans to make them better for the environment. 

Denim for life

At the Vacationist Eco Cabin we wanted to tackle fabric waste as part of our build. We chose to focus on denim because for decades jeans have been a staple of the wardrobe. Everybody has a pair. 

The problem with jeans is that most people have not just one pair, but many pairs.  Jeans from our younger days, which we can now only get on if we lie down and breathe in; jeans from a different fashion period which don’t quite work today; jeans with an annoying hole in the knee that won’t stay sewn up…. jeans, jeans, jeans.

We decided to rethink how we used some of our old jeans – creating soft furnishings for the cabin instead of storing them in our wardrobe for no good reason. 


Rethinking denim – making cushions

I cut out the useable parts of our old jeans as well as some of the embellishments. Pockets and rivets make for great details. The scissors also came out on a pile of old tops and dresses that were misshaped, stained or damaged. None of them would have been wearable so there was no point donating them to charity. 

Using both a sewing machine and hand sewing, I created cushions for the children’s room in the cabin that fitted with our book theme.  I also made a lovely denim pocket cushion for the sofa. 



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