Recycled Leather

A little over a year ago I went to a textile recycling plant in NJ and witnessed New Yorks’ collective consumerism on a massive scale.  This plant was the size of a couple Costco’s with clothing organized meticulously by style/era for vintage boutiques to buy.  Mostly by the pound, whatever quality of clothes you want could be baled like hay to take home.  Over 45% of their incoming recycled clothing gets shipped overseas, where I can only assume it would contribute to the displacement of local manufacturing.  As a life-long thrifter, seeing what happens to our clothes on such a large scale was an eye-opening experience.  I have a feeling much larger changes will be on the way if countries ban the import of recycled clothing from the US.  How do we make a dent in this problem?

On a very, very small scale, I rescued a few *really ugly* 1980’s Matrix-style leather jackets and chose to cut them up to create something new and extend the life that was already sacrificed for them.  I think this could be one answer to a much larger problem.  Unfortunately, animals are still killed for their skin.  When working with the leather, I can see why compared to other fabrics.  I’m definitely the wrong person to continue creating out of recycled animal skin, and falter between the typical environmentalist and vegan dilemma daily.   But I do think this conversation of overconsumption needs to be had, even if it encourages someone to fix clothes rather than donate or throw away.  Preferably before we’re all buried under piles of polyester.

Ultimately, I am very excited about new textile advances like this bacteria-grown leather and can’t wait to spend the time on experiments in my kitchen laboratory.  At some point, I’m hoping to celebrate the harmony between the mad scientist, vegan, and environmentalist within.

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