How sewing can make the world more sustainable

American Hero

(NewsNation) — The Sewing Labs is teaching people how to make their old clothes new again.

The Kansas City-based group is on a mission to not only teach people how to sew but also spread the word about how many clothes are thrown away each year.

In fact, the manufacture of clothes, shoes, belts and accessories – otherwise known as textiles – is the second-largest polluting industry in the world after oil and gas.

Eileen Bobowski, the executive director of The Sewing Labs, said sewing has become a lost trade, as it’s not taught in schools anymore, and they’re working to bridge that gap.

“We’re trying to keep that legacy alive by teaching people how to sew,” she said.

Borowski said the organization has been flooded with employers who are seeking industrial sewing machine operators and demand has been overwhelming.

“It’s not just clothing — there’s tent and awning companies, construction equipment companies that need to stitch catchalls for their equipment,” she explained. “There’s all kinds of needs, I think people don’t necessarily realize how much product is sewn all around us.”

In the 1960s, the average person had about 25 pieces of clothing in their closet. Today, people’s closets are jam-packed with clothes. Bobowski said that’s where repurposing comes into play.

“Upcycle was one of the founding principles for our nonprofit. It was to not put anything into a landfill. How can we repurpose the remnants in our room? We could be teaching people to sew and put them into lives filled with financial dignity. Once you learn sewing, it’s a skill that goes with you for life,” she explained.

She continued: “You don’t have to just wear something once and then pitch it, especially when you realize where it ends up.”

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