We’re always on the lookout for fun and interesting new ways to engage our youth. Recently, we asked our Project STEMWARE students to vote on a group enrichment project. They chose to learn about “zero-waste fashion.”
Big Concepts Close to Home
To begin with, students learned about environmental sustainability and justice—how these principles can apply to fashion. We learned about the life cycle of our clothes and how multiple industries across the planet all participate in making a single t-shirt. Finally, we explored ways to utilize upcycling and thrifting to become more mindful consumers and creators.
Our students repurposed clothing from home as well as from a local West End thrift store. In this fashion-forward approach to project-based learning, they practiced recurring skills such as project management, planning, and design, while also learning new ones: how to hand sew and make basic alterations, how to tie dye using colored dye and bleach.
Projects With a Purpose
In addition to repairing clothes items, our students created relaxing heating pads using rice and upcycled shirts. They also made tote bags from thrifted sweaters and flannels. Repairs are one thing, but the act of repurposing teaches our students to see beyond what’s in front of them and reframe its possibility.
It was incredible to see how these creations immediately impacted their self-esteem. These aren’t just skills they learned: they’re tools they can use to consume more responsibly, create more joyfully, and, who knows … maybe one day leverage into a career.