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Coming Full Circle

January 13, 2016

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Well friends, here we are again. Another New Year’s Eve has passed and we find ourselves looking forward once more to all that could be in the coming year. This is one of the most magical times of the year, if you ask us. The deep breath of air after the holiday craze is in our lungs; the anticipation of all that could be ahead is swimming around in our minds; the complete lack of knowledge about what the next 300 and some-odd-days will really hold (depending on when you read this) hasn’t sunk in yet and we are free to dream!

One of our favourite ways of starting off a brand new year is to surround ourselves with people and stories that inspire us. It helps us to see the world in a more positive light, as well as to encourage us to dream of all of the things that can happen when creativity and ambition combine.

A story that got us excited this week comes from Ecouterre, one of our favourite eco-friendly fashion news sources.  Sustainability “came full circle”  in a pair of student-led initiatives over at the Fashion Institute of Technology last month, namely, the Rooftop Natural Dye Garden and the Muslin Compost System. “ The two projects intersected when…nutrient-rich compost…became ready for spreading on the dye garden, where it’ll help prep the soil for next spring’s plants and flowers,” writes Alexandra Mann.

The Rooftop Dye Garden was started a couple years ago to demonstrate that fabric dying could, in fact, be achieved in much more environmentally-friendly ways if certain plants were grown, harvested, and dried locally to produce naturally-sourced dyes. The garden also recently became the perfect place for two final-year students, Lydia Baird and WIlla Tsokanis, to find a new way to recycle some of the muslin waste from the fashion industry – and there’s a lot of it to be recycled.

Cotton muslin is used in every stage of the fashion design process, specifically to create patterns and to experiment with fit before sewing a final product. Because of muslin’s central role in the fashion industry, the amount of waste produced is, as you can probably imagine, quite significant:

“Cotton muslin is different from other fabrics because it rarely has a life beyond the designer’s studio. It does not make its way into wardrobes or charity shops.  What makes cotton muslin’s lifespan so short is also what makes it perfect for the FIT Muslin Compost System.”

What Baird and Tsokanis realized was that although a “number of ‘downcycling’ processes exist for cotton waste…these methods only defer the inevitable dumping of the waste in landfills,” writes Mann.

So, rather than simply repurposing these excess yards of muslin, the two students decided to mix them with organic materials, such as old coffee grounds from the campus Starbucks and food waste from the cafeteria, thus truly recycling the waste product. As muslin is free of dye, printing or any finishing work, it is perfectly biodegradable and still, if it is not composted, the material is more than likely to just be thrown out.

These students found a truly sustainable solution to a persistent question.

Oh, and the full circle moment we mentioned? Baird and Tsokanis hauled their compost out of its bins and up to the Rooftop Dye Garden, where it served its final purpose: feeding the plants that will eventually become the dye used in the very same industry where the muslin was once a participant.

So cool.

At Parkers, we love good clothes – and by that, we mean clothing that makes us look good, but that also makes the earth feel good. If you know of any ways people are changing the fashion industry for the eco-friendly better, we would love to hear about it! We are on Twitter: @ParkersCleaners or you can leave us a comment in the section below. As Toronto’s environmentally friendly dry cleaners, we are committed to keeping the earth green and your clothes clean.

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