3 Things I've Learned So Far...

It’s been a week of reflection here. A big market research project has come to a close. I’m so excited to see what the next year reveals, opportunities are popping up all over the place, ready for me to get stuck into.  

I’ve learned so, so much over the past few months; assumptions have been turned on their heads, doubts have transformed into delightful affirmations. I’m on a good track here and it seems like the future has some really great possibilities in store.  

I wanted to share these 3 things that are really standing out for me upon reflection of the journey so far, in no particular order:  

1. People DO care

With little knowledge of the path ahead; I began a passion project with a big mission – to reduce textile waste in the events industry. I knew change needed to happen after witnessing first hand textile waste that the events industry produces and I had some ideas of how that could start. As I got going designing how the business would be structured, I constantly had this big looming dread about how I would get people to care enough about the issue at hand. I frustrated myself to no end over how I would come across, I didn’t want to nag or rattle anyones cage, I didn’t want to place blame and promote ugly guilt.  

I began meeting with people working in various areas of the events industry and while I was met with some resistance in the form of “it’s a big challenge for one little lady” and “I get it but our hands are too tied” – it really wasn’t all as bad as I’d speculated. Once I started speaking to the right people, those higher up in the authority of the industry such as venues and organisers, I was met with more “what a fantastic idea” and “thank goodness for people like you”. My goodness, people have just been so wonderfully welcoming and that really shines some vivid, optimistic light on the future. With this new support; my assumptions of what it is to rebel against convention are surely and definitely washing away with this uplifting momentum, which is great because it’s way more fun to be positive anyway.  

2. There is indeed definitely a need / I couldn’t stop now if I wanted to.

Testing the way that reclaiming textiles would work, I went along to shows just before they closed, caught up with the client and then when it was time, collected any fabrics that were not destined for further use. Decorex; the first show I did with event organisers UBM, blew my mind. I went home with a van full of white cotton, polyester and calico. I also got to chat with some interior design industry representatives who were exhibiting there, about working with second use materials. There seems to be a growing energy toward repurposing, which obviously I was delighted to find. I even sat with one exhibitor and designed lampshades made with the muslin used as ceilings for the exhibition spaces. At my third event (SLEEP + EAT Olympia London, also with UBM), I was interviewed by a sustainability auditor who was positively impressed and excitedly encouraged the work I’m doing. Each day I find myself even more stuck into this role and role I’ve created for myself and people have started looking to and relying on me, which brings me neatly to the next point.  

3. Direct Impact, Direct Impact, Direct Impact, Direct Impact. And simply to keep it up.

So far I’ve diverted over 200kg of fabric from a landfill destiny. Up until September, I had admittedly been treading fairly lightly, not knowing where I stood in terms of access to the problem. It quickly transpired with the revelation of how receptive people have been, that I could have access to a lot of reclaiming opportunity. Now I know I can make this a sustainable business, but more importantly – I can have a lot of direct impact.  

I recently attended an event on ‘circularity’ and community sharing, where a freestyle rapper spoke out along the lines of people not ‘walking the walk’. This is the exact sentiment that had really sunk in once I had physical, reclaimed fabric in my possession. I feel strongly now about just getting on with it. If you want to make a difference; start doing so in whatever way you can. It may feel minimal, but even the smallest of voices when speaking up together shout loud.  

So that’s where I am with The Textile Review right now. Making positive impact with some great people in the events industry and feeling very hopeful indeed about next steps; repurposing the fabric to responsible and sustainable onward use.  

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