Updated: Jul 22
I have been intrigued by the idea that materials that would otherwise be considered as scraps or trash could be made into something beautiful again and given a brand new purpose. In the fashion industry whether it be clothing companies, thrift stores, or in factories, unsold or unwanted clothes, and extra fabrics are either thrown away or burned if left unused. Sooo to go against the grain and for #noplasticjuly, instead of adding to that existing problem, we did a sustainable and upcycled gift exchange :)
Here are the sustainable gifts we got each other:
Topiku | “from trash to hat”
use code: JUDIBLOOMHERE for 10% off 💚
US orders ship free
Style of hat that I got him: CRM 03 • Sunyi 6 panel ball cap $35
Isn't the traditional Batik fabric from Indonesia underneath the cap gorgeous?!
What is special about this brand: They truly value transparency - we know what their hats are made of, who makes their hats, and where they are made. All materials used for their hats are traceable - all from Indonesia. According to Topiku, Indonesia is the world’s 2nd largest ocean polluter. So what are they doing to cut down on their waste productions? Here is their process.
no plastic packaging 👍🏼 just the hat + a brochure inside
What they are upcycling:
They use buckets found in landfills to make the hat bill.
They use excess traditional Batik cloth that would otherwise be thrown away and sew it on the inside of the hat bill.
They use GOTS certified cotton curtain leftover scraps for the hat panels.
What they are doing for the environment:
They do not purchase any new fabrics. Instead Topiku is repurposing items that have already been thrown away and are also saving other scraps from being thrown away.
By making their hats from deadstock fabrics (leftover fabrics from factories) as well as upcycling old plastic buckets from garabage dumps, they claim to reduce their carbon footprint (amount of greenhouse gases released by their production process) by 80%.
They have partnered with Waste4Change to educate people on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Waste4Change also offers a waste management program for businesses + a send your waste recycling program for individuals. I tried to see if there is a cost to participate in either program, but all I see is that you do have to apply for both.
*What they are doing for their employees*
(important and often over looked):
They are sponsoring the health insurance of 14 of their employees who pick out trash from landfills in Indonesia to be upcycled. Wow! Can companies in America do this for their employees too?! 😥
Employees are paid almost double the minimum wage in Indonesia ensuring that they earn a liveable wage.
Employees work in a "home industry" meaning that they can sew from the comfort of their own home. No sweat shops here!
*What they are doing for the community*
(what impact are they making):
In making sure that they treat their employees well, they are taking a stand against the exploitation of garment workers.
For more information on the need for better treatment, safety, and pay for garment workers, as linked on Topiku's website, you can visit: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/why-do-we-need-a-fashion-revolution/
They even have a template email for you to reach out to brands to hold them accountable: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/get-involved/
Side profile of hat w/Topiku logo
If you'd like to learn more about Topiku's CEO, I found an article written by Indosole here.
“I want to dispel the notion that sustainable, socially-impactful products come at the cost of good design and affordability.” - Monty H, Founder & CEO of Topiku
Makarawear | sustainable minimalist style
Style of dress that he got me: Upcycled Black Silk Dress $90 + 20% off first purchase
(I said a $30ish cap on gifts, but a bish got spoiled<3 lol!)
+ admiring my plant babies (:
I am 5'2" and this dress hits right above my knee
Candid in my Makarawear
What is special about this brand: I have been wanting a staple LBD to add to my closet and now I have a sustainable option. I have been seeking out brands that care about the environment as well as give back to the community and Makara seems to do both!
What they are upcycling:
This dress is made from 100% upcycled silk from leftover deadstock fabrics from designer brands such as Roberto Cavali, Max Mara, and Ralph Lauren. Call it upcycled designer!
[I will mention however that I read the fabric details and came to find that the inside breast lining is made of 10% satin. I couldn’t find any logistics on where they source their satin from. It says the purpose of incorporating satin into the design is for “easier wear and wash,” however even though it is just a small section of satin, for the price point I would have thought that it was all silk. Their wording is still correct however that 100% of the silk used is upcycled, but that there is also satin used. Satin unlike silk is a synthetic fiber, so I’ll be taking extra precaution when washing this dress knowing that microparticles will potentially break off of the dress in the washer that can pollute the ocean *but fear not, I'll have a separate blog post on microparticles & washing your clothes responsibly*]
What they are doing for the environment:
They claim to be 100% zero-waste.
They use their own scrap materials to make bikini bottoms and scrunchies.
Their cotton clothing are made from 100% organic cotton that is biodegradable.
They salvage and upcycle deadstock fabrics that other companies were going to throw away such as in their upcycled silk dresses. I got the black one, but there are a variety of other colors such as ice blue, emerald green, rose red & creme.
For their swimsuits they use recycled Econyl, which is plastic material found in the ocean such as from fishing nets.
Doesn't she look lovely? The dress came with a cute lil dust bag to store it in as well.
What they are doing for their employees:
In a blog post titled Sustainable Fashion is the Only Way to Act from Sept. 12, 2019, Makarawear states that they are working with a Balinese Family’s Local Factory where they care about their workers, but do not state anything else that I could find on their website.
There is also another blog post titled Makara’s Thoughts On Our Swimwear, Surf Wear Brand and The World from Sept 19, 2018 stating that they "want to set an example for other companies on how to pay a fair and deserved salary, respect this planet earth, and help those that are around us." 💗
Since I could not find more info on their website, I have since emailed them asking about their employee care. If they reply back, I'll update this post with the deets <3
What they are doing for the community:
10% of proceeds going to the covid19 Bali food bank.
They host beach clean-ups in Bali.
They donate sustainable swimwear to girls learning how to surf in Bali.
They advocate for women empowerment through women participation in extreme sports.
I love to see brands who aren't just about the revenue, but actually use part of their profits to give back to the community. Absolutely am for that!
-Open for discussion-
Arguments over upcycled clothing:
I have seen the argument over the internet that in purchasing clothing that is made from plastics and other materials that are considered “trash” that we are increasing the demand for more trash production. That because we are buying items made from trash, that we are essentially saying “it is okay to create trash because it can be repurposed into something else!”
To me, I feel that the only way to actually end the cycle of increased waste production is to regulate how much new plastic and non-environmentally friendly materials are made. I think companies who are upcycling are being creative in using unwanted materials that would otherwise be sitting in a landfill regardless. At least they are making new use of discarded items and are not creating new waste in the process you know? They are taking materials out from the landfills and I personally don’t see anything wrong with that. My only concern would be if breaking down such materials takes more energy or if the process is harmful to the environment. However, I am always open to learning and if you have another take or view on upcycling, I’m always open to hearing different sides. What do you think about upcycling old materials into something new instead of just disposing of said materials into the trash?
Additionally, what else should we be concerned about when thinking of slow, sustainable fashion? I mentioned it early and it is microparticles.
I will caution you though that with any type of clothing, upcycled or newly made, always check what kind of material it is made of. Is it made of organic, biodegradable material? This is important when washing your clothes. According to The Story of Stuff Project on Youtube, when the water from your washing machine drains out into your water system and out to the ocean, microparticles that break off of the synthetic fabrics in our clothing are unable to fully break down and are released out into rivers, oceans and other bodies of water. These microplastics can absord pollutants! It’s something many of us don’t realize is happening when we do our laundry. As you can imagine this can be harmful to marine life and to you and I! As part of #noplasticjuly I’ll write a post on microparticles this month!
Also, ask yourself, who is making your clothes? Upcycling claims to be zero-waste and done with the environment in mind. Additionally, I think it is also our duty and equally as important to make sure that these products are ethically made within factories. If we care about the planet, we should also care that garment workers are working in safe conditions, are paid a liveable wage and paid on time, and that they are taken care of.
We can still love fashion and still look out for the planet and look out for each other.
Peace, planet & people love 🌱,
P.S. In addition, look up videos on YouTube or ideas on Pinterest of how you can upcycle your old clothes into something new.
The Story of Microplastics by The Story of Stuff Project on YouTube. May 1, 2017. https://youtu.be/BqkekY5t7KY