When I learned my hobby could be used to reduce my environmental footprint, sewing became my favorite pastime.
A few months after I received a sewing machine for my 13th birthday, I wore my first homemade outfit to school. It was an ill-fitting, bright yellow tank top and skirt set, and I was ecstatic to show it off. Despite the outfit’s many flaws, I got countless compliments on it. The joy I felt making something wearable with my own hands spurred me to develop my sewing skills even further.
Throughout middle school, I sewed a myriad of clothes and accessories. I even briefly sold items to my classmates to make some money. I still see some of the scrunchies I sold in 7th grade on ponytails in the halls of my high school today.
I was inspired to find ways to reduce my clothing consumption after learning more about fast fashion’s environmental impacts and labor rights issues. I dedicated school projects to researching the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh and grossly underpaid garment workers in the UK. I also discovered some pretty harrowing statistics about overconsumption and pollution — like how the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing per year according to The California Public Interest Research Group.
Nowadays, I’m not sewing entire outfits anymore, but I use the skills I learned to alter old clothes or any secondhand clothing I buy. I love that I can keep things that don’t quite fit me, and make simple adjustments to make them wearable.
Upcycling like this means I’m more resourceful and careful with the clothes I purchase. I’m also more attentive to my personal style. And I’m sure my friends and family appreciate having someone that can tailor their clothes at any time. I feel good knowing that my creative outlet can make the world a slightly better place.