Eco-friendly clothing: links roundup

Over at A Little Bit of All Of It, it's eco-friendly clothing week! In honour of which, here is a round-up of various links and so on from me and elsewhere, on the subject of eco-friendly clothing.

Upcycling

Upcycling existing clothes that you no longer wear is an eco-friendly way of getting new clothes. I haven't up cycled anything for myself lately, but I have been upcycling a T-shirt of mine (no longer wearable into a T-shirt for Leon. A skirt I don't wear became a pair of baby trousers last summer; they're still being worn this summer, just as three-quarter length rather than full length. I also made a pair of smart trousers from some suit trousers recently, but haven't yet blogged it.

Not clothes, but I made toys from scraps from my scrap box earlier this year, too.

Making clothes from fabric

How eco-friendly it is to make your own clothes (if not upcycling) depends on how eco-friendly the source fabric is. Although you could argue that making your own makes you more likely to wear and appreciate the garment, rather than treating it as disposable; it may also last longer and you might be more likely to patch it.

Here's a few sources of eco-friendly fabric, or yarn:

  • Organic Cotton do eco-friendly (organic, also fair trade) cotton and other materials, and deliver very fast. I've used them personally and can recommend them.
  • The Hemp Shop do hemp fabric, which is organic. It's not fair trade but they do give their factory working conditions on that page.
  • There are several sorts of yarn which is recycled from other yarns or fabrics:
    • Recycled sari silk: can be a bit odd to knit with, though, and doesn't knit a smooth fabric.
    • Second Time Cotton: recycled from consumer cotton scraps. Nice to knit with, but sadly I can't find a UK stockist at the moment.
    • Full Circle worsted and bulky wool is also made from leftover bits of British wools. It's 100% wool, very snuggly, and nice to knit with. It's a bit scratchy but only in the way that wool is often a bit scratchy.

You can also knit multi-coloured things from your end-balls of yarn; blankets are another way to use up ends of balls.

Shopping

Finally, if you're buying, start out with charity shops or Ebay second-hand clothes (as well as promoting reuse, this is also much cheaper!). If you're buying new, look for organic and fair trade, and be prepared (sadly) to spend a while at it, as it can be difficult to find both. Once you do, make your clothes last as long as possible by washing them only when they're actually dirty, protecting them when you're doing dirty chores (get an apron!), and patching them if possible.

River of Flowers

I came across River of Flowers recently: a project aiming to plant and encourage urban wildflower meadows to help the flow of pollinators across London. (It's now spread to elsewhere in the world.)

As someone who's trying to create her own little wildflower meadow in the back garden (all 12 or so sq m of it), I found this a lovely idea. Unfortunately it looks like signup on their London map is just for parks, allotments, gardens etc, but browsing those is fun too. There's also a list of urban meadow partners, and mention of an Urban Meadows Kit to encourage people to grow mini-meadows in their front gardens, though it looks like that isn't available right now.

There's also some information on helping pollinators, which reminded me of a talk I was at this week, on solitary bees. I already knew that they are deeply fascinating creatures, but now I am even more convinced of it! There's much more info via the Bees, Wasps, and Ants Recording Society, including basic info and more detailed information sheets. We already have a nice pile of dead wood at the bottom of the garden to provide insect-housing; I'm now intending to make some more solitary bee homes this winter. And to visit Roots and Shoots over in SW London to see their awesome Trellick Bee Tower. All hail the bees!

(More on helping bees in another post....)