Busy, busy being creative..!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Day 4 – Fabric. Sorted.


Me and the donated shirts
Brilliant day. Went to Bristol Textile Recyclers (BTR) in Victoria Terrace, Bristol (thought that was a good omen to start with as I live in Victoria Square) and I was right.  

They very, very, VERY kindly donated the full 30 shirts I need for the project for FREE! WOW.

Wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the brilliant Tania though and her negotiating skills – and to Ian the operations manager for saying yes I could have 30 of the ‘wipe grade’ shirts! HUGE THANK YOU. 

Needless to say I have promised Tania a bag once I’ve started making them.

And I think if I do develop the picnic Idea then everyone that helps me on the way is automatically invited. (Sunny weather required please).

There is a bit of a story behind getting the shirts, (which are all being washed as I write this post).

Bristol Textiles Recyclers
So back track a bit….Arrived for my 11am appointment not really sure what to expect, it’s not a massive warehouse but seemed well laid out and a hive of activity. Bundles of fabric packed neatly and stacked up ready and waiting to be shipped off somewhere...

Went up to see Tania who was expecting me and I explained what I was after. She was super friendly and said that was no problem. I was issued with an orange high-vis jacket (nice) and taken out onto the floor to the men’s shirts sorting area. They are sorted by fabric type and quality. Told to help myself and fill a bag. I knew at this point that it was around £6.50 a kg and in my head thought ah no problem – 30 shirts can’t weigh that much. I was wrong. I collected the shirts I liked and took the bag down to the scales.

One of the employees came to help me (feel bad as I didn’t get him name – *SORRY*)
What!!??* I thought – 120kgs…turned out he was stepping on the scales on purpose!! Cheeky chappie. Made me laugh though. ;-)

All loaded up in Henry and ready to go!
Actually weighed 70kgs.  Went back up to see Tania to let her know I had a bag and to check how much it was going to cost. Eeek I said when she worked out it was going to be £62.  Not what I had bargained for. So explained this project isn’t something I was getting paid for and could they suggest anywhere I could get shirts ‘donated’ not expecting them to be able to donate so many. The demand for second hand clothes has really gone through the roof apparently and demand is at a real high so second hand clothes are no longer cheap (had already noticed this at the charity shops). They have been in business since 1972 and prices have risen steeply in recent years. I’d like to know a bit more about why so will investigate further.

Swag bag!
Tania called out Ian, the operations manager, and between them they were really helpful trying to come up with ideas of where I could get my shirts. Tanya then had a brilliant idea. “Why not ask each charity shop to donate one shirt each and then write about them in your blog,” that’s brilliant I thought I’ll do that! 


So then she continued to say so “Ian can we donate a shirt to get this project started?” I kept quiet as I didn’t want to be pushy! Ian then asked me about the kind of fabric I needed and the fact that I was going to be cutting them up so he said I can have some from the ‘wipe bag’. These are shirts that are damaged in some way so can’t be sold on as clothes. 


I didn’t realise that all the clothes there are sorted and then sold on to other counties as they like the style of our clothes. I’d thought they were somehow ‘re-made’ into new fabric, but that isn’t actually the case.


Well then, said Ian – you can have 30!! Yipee I thought! “Brilliant Thank you Thank you I said!!” (happy dance)


So back I went to fill another bag…………..And that’s how my fabric is sorted ;-)

Things I need to do next:

  1. Finish washing shirts – one load left to do
  2. Make up a template ‘practice’ bag
  3. Although I really love the felt letter idea that I’ve used on my cushions, I think that will prove too time consuming, so would like to print them instead. So will call some print studios about going in for a few days to print up the bags.
  4. Source some card – maybe from scrapstore? Or some other source to make my tags. Want to create some that look like those old luggage tags.
  5. Think I have decided on the 23 May to ‘distribute’ as that’s when there will be lots of people in Clifton to see the Olympic Torch.  But wonder if that will be enough time before the end of the project to get all the photos in. Maybe I need an incentive for people to send in a photo? Like invite to the picnic if you send in a picture? Not sure yet. Am sure it will come to me.

    Washing commences! (using Eco balls of course!)












    Here are some statistics from the BTR website to show why textile recycling is so important:
“The majority of textiles thrown out by households end up in landfill, with Defra estimating that 1.5 million tonnes a year of unwanted clothing is eventually land filled.” (letsrecycle.com)
“Textiles make up about 3% by weight of a household bin. At least 50% of the textiles we throw away are recyclable; however, the proportion of textile wastes reused or recycled annually in the UK is only around 25%.” (waste online)
“Over 70% of the world's population use second hand clothes.” (Textiles on line)
“The average lifetime of a garment is about three years.” (Textiles on line)
“Every kilogram of virgin cotton preserved by reusing second-hand clothing saves 65 kilowatt-hours of energy, equivalent to about 32.5 kilograms of CO2. For polyester, the savings rise to 90 kilowatt-hours per kilogram.” (New Scientist)
Their Clothes for a Cause programme. They run recycling workshops and factory tours.
Also check out the interesting journey of the textiles..

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