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Second life for used clothes and unwanted textiles … recycling, hand sewn

Posted on 26 June 2018.

In association with sheltered sewing workshops, FOREWEAR recycles used textiles to create beautiful designed accessories.

Operating primarily in Prague, FOREWEAR has been intent on improving old textile recycling for several years. Project was introduced by Markéta Borecká in 2013, the concept has become a great example of the circular economy.

It begins by collecting unused textiles from businesses. FOREWEAR first organizes meetings with management and company employees to explain their philosophy and recycling process. After careful sorting, any garments in good condition are donated to charitable organizations like Borůvka Praha, a non-profit supported by the Veolia Foundation in the Czech Republic, which promotes the inclusion in the workplace of people with disabilities or in difficulty. Damaged pieces go into a special recycling unit that turns them into reusable nonwoven material. The next step is for FOREWEAR to print original designs on the recycled textile materials before turning them into designed products – covers for tablets, phones, books, diaries in jackets of recycled material, and jackets for cosmetics or passports.

These objects are assembled in sewing workshops like the one in Fokus Vysočina which promotes the inclusion in the workplace of people with disabilities or with mental disorders. The organization is extensively supported by the Veolia Foundation in the Czech Republic. The objects are then sold in designer shops in Prague, on markets, and, primarily, marketed to companies as business gifts, merchandise and smart marketing products. The loop is looped, in every sense of the word! Presented with an award in 2015 by the city of Prague, FOREWEAR has already recycled over 30,000 kg of clothing, it is giving work to three to four seamstresses and has created more than 10,000 new and unusual functional-designed products.

Charity shops in Ostrava offer used clothing a second lease of life

The Czech Republic is very creative about textile recycling. Other original projects have developed in the area. In Ostrava, the third largest city in the country, with a population of nearly 300,000, eight Moment ČR stores also give used clothes a second chance.

The originality of these charity shops - launched in 2012 - is that they have completely revamped the thrift shop concept. The hyper-trendy layout the interior designers came up with creates a cool and fragrant atmosphere in a trendy bohemian decor. The washed and ironed garments are beautifully presented and also sold by people with disabilities or that are moving back into work (long-term unemployed, over 50s, etc.).

Close to 60 employees operate these outlets, supported by Moment ČR’s hundred or so volunteers. After expenses have been paid, the profits from these shops go to selected charities for specific projects. The simple and efficient system even caught the eye of the local rock star, Tomáš Klus, who dubbed his concert series "Recyklus Tour" and never misses an opportunity to support Moment ČR with a call for donations.

Veolia in the Czech Republic also joined the Moment ČR project by organizing garment collections in the spring of 2017. Almost 380 kg per week was collected and forwarded to the Moment ČR central warehouse for sorting. It should be noted that 1 kg of clothing collected saves about 3.6 kg of carbon dioxide, 6,000 liters of water and 0.3 kg of chemicals. So these textiles, often produced intensively and with little respect for the environment and people, become part of a virtuous approach.