Sew You Think You Can Mend?


A teacher changes the thread on a sewing machine at a uOttawa sustainability sewing workshop

Green Weeks is wrapping up on campus and for those of you who don't know, Green Weeks is a great initiative put on by the SFUO to celebrate all things green at the University of Ottawa. Every year it is a little different but it is always a sweet mix of education, art, and turning things around for this little planet we call home.

This year, the Office of Campus contributed to two events. One was the "Imagine a Sustainable Campus" speakers panel (which I blogged about last time). The other was the "Sew you think you can mend" workshop, a workshop designed to teach you the basics about mending, patching, and repairing your clothes.

I really have to hand it to Francine, Alex, Frederique, and all the others that made the workshop possible. It really was an intimate and informative affair. Participants were taught the basics of sewing and how to use a sewing machine. Then they were provided with their very own sewing kits so they could try out their new found skills at home. The whole thing really got me thinking about all the clothing out there hat gets tossed just because many people lack the basic skills to hem, stitch, and patch.

The EPA in the United States estimates that about 5% of all waste going to landfill is textile waste (clothing, linen, etc). Some say that about 90% of those textiles (which is about 13 Million tonnes a year) are in perfect condition; meaning that they likely could have been reused with little to no modifications.

Think about that for a second. If people were able to maybe hem their own jeans or let out a shirt, there is a good chance that millions of tonnes of waste would be averted every year.

This got me a little frazzled and made me want to do something about it. After the success of the workshop I resolved that we should do more workshops about how to fix your clothes or make some minor mods. I think that a good place for these workshops would be in the Free Store. That way people can take some clothes from the shelves and if some repairs are needed.... they will know exactly what to do.

Participants crowd around a sewing machine


Just putting this out there, but if you think that it is time you picked up some sewing skills, drop us a message and we will start putting the next workshop together. Who knows, maybe we can prove that a stitch in time saves nine.

~ jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo


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