Old is new: Qatari teenagers give second-hand clothes a second life | Environment

Doha, Qatar – Seven high school students in Qatar are setting an environmentally conscious trend by turning old and damaged clothes into new fashion items, such as bags, masks and belts .

The Upcycle project drew attention to the greater need for sustainability, while emphasizing Massive waste problem in the fashion industry, according to research presented at the 2018 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, a global event focused on sustainability, generates about 92 million tons of waste that is disposed of in landfills. .

Environment result of this waste is devastating: Man-made fibers like polyester take 20 to 200 years to decompose.

upgrade project
Students won the February Global Act Impact Award in The Hague International Model United Nations Qatar [Courtesy: Project Upcycle]

Students at Birla Public School in Qatar are on a mission to raise awareness about the environmental impact of “fast fashion”.

Under the banner “Undo, Uplift, Upcycle”, the students wanted to highlight problems in the “fast fashion” industry, where mass-market retailers use low-quality and dangerous materials to make Meet the growing demand for the latest trends and earn higher profits. .

“We know ‘fast fashion’ isn’t something that can easily go away, especially when so many people rely on it,” said Nandini Mathur, head of product design and development at Project Upcycle. to buy clothes due to its affordable price.

“But such clothes are designed and manufactured for short-term use, so a large amount of clothing ends up in landfill every year.

“We wanted to create something using that waste material, such as old and torn clothes, and create items that people can use for years. To make the most of everything and make it practical,” added Mathur.

upgrade project
Project Upcycle team partners with sustainable online store Ecosouk Qatar to sell their products [Courtesy: Project Upcycle]

In January 2022, the group began collecting old and torn clothes, mostly from friends and family. As their campaign gained momentum, they started receiving donations. They also look for clothes that are rejected by charities because they are damaged.

Students create designs for bags and other items and submit them to The Stitch Studio, a local sewing business.

To sell their products, they have partnered with sustainable online store, Ecosouk Qatar.

Mathur said it “wants to bring the recycling culture to Qatar”, adding that the fashion industry is “one of the biggest causes of global warming and is often overlooked in conversations”. around sustainability and other green issues”.

She added: “Our goal was to create something that could start a conversation and contribute to a solution.

In February last year, the students won the Global Act Impact Award (GAIA), under The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) Qatar, for their project.

Fast fashion and its effects

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has named the “fast fashion” industry as the second most polluting industry in the world.

Data from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2018 shows that it takes about 7,500 liters of water to produce one pair of jeans – the amount the average person consumes in seven years.

The same data shows that this trillion dollar industry is also responsible for about 10 percent of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and shipping combined.

In addition to the environmental impact, the fashion industry is also responsible for the poverty, often appalling, working conditionsespecially for women, as 80% of the workforce in the supply chain is women, according to a 2018 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Items made by the project's Upcycle team
Students say they want to highlight issues in the ‘fast fashion’ industry [Courtesy: Project Upcycle]

Focus on consumer awareness

While more and more people are becoming aware of the need for sustainable fashion, consumers are not always considering buying recycled products.

Ivana Thomas of Project Upcycle said: “Most people have very negative thoughts about using recycled products in the early stages. “The main question that pops into their mind is, ‘Why should I use products made from old, used fabrics?’”

The students talk about sustainability as they set up independent booths at various community events while promoting and educating sustainable fashion customers.

She notes that people are often “surprised by the quality of an old recycled material that is identical to a standard material”.


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