A south central Indiana organization is bringing community members together to combat the negative impact of the fast fashion industry.
Discardia, based in Bloomington, holds an annual Trashion/Refashion Runway show and other events that allow members to put their passion and skills toward advocating for sustainable fashion.
The fast fashion industry has one of the largest global footprints as a polluter and generator of greenhouse gases, according to Nature Climate Change. The industry also exports much of its labor to other countries where millions of people work for slave wages in unacceptable conditions.
For one regularly scheduled Discardia event, members attend monthly mending days at the Monroe County Public Library, where anyone is welcome to work on a clothing project.
Discardia provides sewing machines and other basic supplies like needles and thread for attendees to use. According to Gail Hale, a regular mending day volunteer, the sessions give people access to materials and expert support that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
“We have some amazing people that are very skilled seamstresses, as well as artists, like me,” said Hale.
Bloomington resident Athena Straface first learned about the program through Hale and began attending mending days because she needed help doing alterations on her wedding dress.
Straface said the library is a convenient location and the provided supplies made it possible for her to do her own alterations.
“You don’t hear too many people these days making their own clothes, or reusing items that are considered every day trash,” she said.
The concept of reusing what some may refer to as “trash” is a key component in the creation of “trashion,” in which participants make outfits out of used, thrown-out, found and repurposed materials. Hale, a trained artist, said trashion has re-inspired her creative spirit.
Now she considers herself more of a “hacker” than a seamstress, because in trashion she has the opportunity to create something new out of old materials, giving them another life.
“My heart has always been in using materials wisely,” she said.
Many other community members have jumped at the opportunity to partake in trashion and for the last 10 years, Discardia has provided an outlet through the Trashion/Refashion Runway Show, held at Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
According to Hale, participants have submitted around 800 outfits over the last decade, with more outfits being submitted each year. All runway outfits are made from reused materials that the designers find in the community or receive as donations from donors like The Materials for the Arts Center at the Monroe County Reuse Center.
“There is no ‘away,’ anything that is manufactured on this Earth, whatever is born and lives on this Earth, it is always here,” Hale said.
She hopes the runway show will help make people more aware of the waste they produce and encourage them to find creative ways to reuse what they otherwise would have thrown away.
“I honestly believe that all the world’s problems can be solved by creative problem-solving and creativity,” Hale said.