Students gather at East Quad for a sustainable repair shop


The students gathered at the Benzinger Library in the East Quad Residence on Sunday afternoon to learn about the sustainable practice of mending their clothes. The event was organized by LSA junior Laura Topf, along with her classmates in ENVIRON 390: Environmental Activism, a class taught by Professor Virginia Murphy, co-enrolled in Residential College and Program in the Environment (PitE).

The class asked students to come up with their own ideas for a final project related to environmental activism. The Topf group received a grant from the Student Coalition for Sustainability buy materials from SCRAP Creative Reuse Shop.

“I’m into PitE, so I’m pretty aware of the fashion industry waste“, Topf said. “I thought (this workshop) is a good way to change individual stocks that can also, on a larger scale, change the way people ‘vote with their dollar’ by buying less new clothes.”

The workshop highlighted the importance of visible mendinga process inspired by the Japanese art of sashiko. Topf said visible mending combats the idea that clothes should always look new and celebrates the art of mending through colorful patches or threads.

“It’s a way of putting subtle pressure on people to understand that clothes aren’t meant to be thrown away, and that it’s fine (to have darned clothes), and it doesn’t make you no less cool,” Topf said. “(Fixing is) not something that says anything about you except that you’re creative and careful about the things you own.”

LSA sophomore Ruby Howard attended the event and said she liked the idea of ​​a lasting repair.

“Sustainable fashion, for me, was about only buying clothes from sustainable brands,” Howard said. “And then I realized it wasn’t sustainable at all, because you’re constantly buying new things instead of just liking what you have. So I think visible repair is really a cultural and emotional revolution. .

Participants repaired jeans, shirts, backpacks and socks while socializing and relaxing. Many students said they felt the workshop fostered a sense of community.

“The idea of ​​a common repair space was proven to increase the number of times people self-repaired,” Topf said. “People can talk and converse with each other.”

LSA manager Bella Lowe said she enjoyed the social element of the workshop and looked forward to mending more of her clothes in the future.

“My biggest takeaway is that I should just get together and mend with my friends a lot more often because it’s fun,” Lowe said. “Everyone has to do it. …It’s just a good way to co-exist with people (and) also practice sustainable methods of fixing your clothes.

Grace Wertanen, Junior Art & Design, also helped plan the event. She said the atelier had tried to slow down the fast fashion cycle, citing the 52 “micro-seasons” in fast fashion per year for example.

“There are 52 style regenerations every year and so people don’t really want to wear the same thing anymore,” Wertanen said. “Repair is obviously not necessary if we are just going to throw it away anyway or give it away or something. So we’re trying to slow that down a bit, and it seems like there’s a lot of people here who want that as well.

According to an article from Colorado State University, only 30% Americans mend their clothes. LSA junior Katherine Harpenau said she helped organize the event to raise awareness of mending as an option.

“A lot of the clothes in the United States that are thrown away are either burned…or they’re just shipped off to other countries…where they just sit in landfills,” Harpenau said. “A lot of issues people have (with their clothes) that cause them to throw them away… they can easily be fixed. And I think people don’t really know that.

Harpenau mentioned that Princeton University teaches repair techniques as part of their sustainability agenda. Even without formal education in the subject, Harpenau said it’s simple to learn how to mend clothes and other items.

“There are so many videos on YouTube, and it’s super easy,” Harpenau said. “A lot of techniques are really not very difficult. So I think if you have a hole in your clothes and you’re like, “Okay, I don’t know how to do this,” there’s so much information online and it’s super easy to learn.

An additional mending workshop will take place at the Benzinger Library on November 19 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Daily News Contributor Astrid Code can be reached at [email protected]


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