As the movement of renewable fashion rises, we tend to hear more and more about the threat of fast fashion and the clothing waste that it produces. Sales of clothes usually rise up during the holiday or back to school period. Most people would buy one or multiple pieces of clothing for the special occasion and never wear them again. Coincidentally it also happens during the change of seasons where big brands release new collections. Whether we need it or not, we are tempted to spend our money to spruce up our wardrobe. This means that either the clothes are piled up in the closet or gets thrown out.
The danger of continuous over-purchasing of articles of clothing is that most of the unused clothes end up in the landfill site. When it’s piled up in the landfill, it becomes dangerous for the environment. Most of the clothes produced are made of or contain polyester, a synthetic fiber that comes from unrenewable material that is petroleum along with coloring chemicals. When these clothes are piled up along with other waste in the landfill, it could damage the soil. Not to mention, the pile of clothing and waste emits carbon dioxide into the air from the microorganisms that decompose the fibers of the used clothing waste.
The idea of turning used clothes into potting media
One regency in South Sulawesi, North Luwu, saw firsthand what clothing waste can do to the environment around them. Last year’s flash flood not only left sight of woods and mud covering people’s homes but also piles of unused clothes. Moved by the sight and the threat on their environment from leaving the unused clothes on the ground, the younger residents in South Sulawesi have the idea of transforming the pile of unused clothes into a potting media.
As reported from Pattae.com, Simpul Peradaban Palopo community along with Student Association from Muhammadiyah University Palopo and young villagers in Desa Balebo, brainstorm ideas of ways to help the residents affected by the flash floods. They saw an opportunity from the unfit donated clothes that are unable to be worn and turn them into something that can benefit the residents in North Luwu. They turn the pile of unfit clothes into a pot that can be used to grow food.
“Every house is given a pot to plant vegetables so that it can cover the economic side of the community, even if it’s not much. However, we are confident and optimistic, as an example of efforts to improve the economy of the affected residents in North Luwu, “said Faisal. B as one of the members of Simpul Peradaban Palopo, reported from Pattae.com.
The idea of turning unused items into potting media comes from years of trying to reduce waste to end up in the landfill. With upcycling or reusing objects or material in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value, unused and unfit to wear clothes does not end up straight into the landfill. The community in South Sulawesi upcycle them by mixing the clothes with cement to make potting media. This idea is not only sustainable but can also be artistic. The cement will follow the drape of the fabric as it dried and made a crease and fold that can be hard to make with a simple mold.
If you intend to do the same with your unused clothes, the steps of making them are quite simple. Here are the steps we found to make the pot. All you need are unused clothes, a bucket and spoon to mix the cement, gloves to protect your hands, a container with a flat bottom to drape the fabrics over, and spray paint for decorating.
First, follow the direction of the cement mixture to make the cement. Add some more water than suggested so that the cement is a little runny like mud. A thick cement is going to be hard to mold over the fabric.
Second, take the unused clothes and put them in the cement mixture. Make sure to cover the fabric completely. If you are using a t-shirt, then you’ll have a smaller pot, if you intend to make a bigger pot, then open the stitching on one side of the t-shirt to have a slightly bigger pot.
Third, drape it over the flat bottom container, it can be a stool covered in plastics so it doesn’t stick, or an unused bucket. You may need to add extra cement to cover areas you may have missed. Then when you feel the draped fabric is completely covered in cement, smooth it out so there are no lumps of extra cement. Take note of what kind of fabrics you’re using, the thicker the fabric like a towel or blanket, will result in a sturdier pot. If you only have thinner fabrics from t-shirts and shirts try layering the cement-covered fabrics together to give it a thicker structure.
Fourth, allow the cement to dry for 1-2 days. Removing from the container before the cement dried will result in a cracked and misshapen pot.
Fifth, remove from the container and add the desired color to your pot with some spray paint.
And all done! you’ve got yourself a new pot to fill with soil and plant your favorite plants.