As the fashion industry faces calls to step up sustainability measures, circular business models and low-carbon strategies, a growing number of Irish brands are reinventing and repurposing discarded materials into desirable products. and useful.
Take Siofra Caherty, for example. At her sustainable Belfast design studio, Jump The Hedges, Síofra crafts stylish bags from salvaged truck tarps.
She said: “I create bags out of trash, mostly truck tarps and salvaged leather. I do it because there’s a huge abundance of trash out there and I really believe in creating something. of valuable and valuable from a waste or whatever people would consider garbage.
“Supplying tarps has been an ongoing journey for the past five years. The first one was just luck. I just knew a guy who was a truck driver. There was one at a yard where he worked. That started like this.
“I had all these different phone numbers in my phone book like ‘Seán Yellow Tarp’ and ‘Mickey Blue Tarp’. I was phoning all these people saying, ‘OK. But it’s covered in holes and snails.” And I’m like, ‘This is big. I’m going to sort it out.’
“So I was literally going around collecting people’s trash. But I was like, ‘I can see the beauty in that.’ It’s very tough, very durable. And then there’s all these unique brands . Therefore, each bag is completely individual.”
While the fashion industry has grown dramatically over the past 100 years, its development has come at a devastating cost.
The industry is very intensive in greenhouse gases, with emissions estimated at between 2 and 8% of the world total.
According to the UN, the equivalent of a textile garbage truck is buried or burned every second.
Síofra said: “We’ve produced too much. We’ve got too much. And we keep producing too much. The world is on fire, but we keep doing it. It’s just kinda crazy, really. For me, it’s where my passion for reusing waste really kicks in. I can see all of this super tough, durable, amazing material just going straight to the landfill.
Last month, Síofra was one of five winners of the RDS Craft Awards 2022. Each winner received a cash prize of €10,000 to support the development of their craft and business skills.
Síofra plans to use the prize money to complete an apprenticeship in leather arts and bag making in Italy.
Jump The Hedges is also one of 28 companies selected to participate in Small But Perfect’s European sustainable fashion program.
“It doesn’t matter how sustainably something is made,” she said. It’s always more sustainable to use something that already exists. It is a state of mind when it comes to problem solving. And I think that’s a key design element that we don’t really talk about, I think. But I believe that a good designer is a good problem solver.”
In our ‘Climate Heroes’ series of reports, we spotlight the people who are taking action to protect the environment and fight climate change. Although these people come from all walks of life, they share a common goal of improving the world around us.