By Bina Patel, OPIRG McMaster
How do your fashion purchases contribute to sustainability? The answer is, they probably don’t. But Threadwork provides a response that gets at the root and provides an escape from the mall ball and chain.
Threadwork was founded as an OPIRG McMaster Working Group in 2010 and focuses on social justice and environmental change.
Their events include knitting/sewing workshops, a semi-annual clothing swap, documentary nights and an upcoming thrift-shop crawl.
Through their events, they create ways to incorporate sustainable fashion practices such as second-hand clothing so you can become effective and conscious consumers.
Unpicking the Pattern
Threadwork’s twice a year Clothing Swap is a friendly place where you can wear your values on your sleeve.
The process is simple: from Monday to Thursday volunteers from Threadwork staff tables in the McMaster University student centre (MUSC) to collect unwanted clothing from students. Students who drop off clothes get points based on certain clothing items and trade their points for some cool new finds on the Friday in the MUSC Atrium. Point vary based on the type of clothing, with jackets being worth more points than a t-shirt, for instance.
Alicia Giannetti explained the process to organize their first term Clothing Swap in October. She promoted the event on over a dozen Facebook groups, and she also asked professors to speak in lectures. They booked tables in the student centre to collect clothing in the week leading up to the swap.
According to Giannetti the most difficult part of the process is getting volunteers to commit to helping.
“I’m hoping that next time we get more people interested in Threadwork and helping with our events,” says Giannetti.
The purpose is, of course, to expose students to buying second-hand clothing, but also to raise awareness about the value in it; what it really means to reject this culture of mass consumerism.
As reminded by the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013 in Bangladesh, much of what we see in stores every day is made by individuals in other countries whose labour and in effect their human rights, are constantly violated. There’s also an adverse impact on the environment with all the waste associated with manufacturing and fashion’s short product life-cycles.
It’s important not only to be mindful of how your clothes are made but in effect, what it means in doing to for working people and the environment near and far.
Next Clothing Swap is Friday, March 23, 2018, in the McMaster University Student Centre atrium, with collection taking place Monday to Thursday that week.