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We have really missed engaging with the local community throughout lockdown, so when Catcote Academy asked us to speak to their 6th Form students about Biodiversity and Working in the Recycling Industry as part of the preparation for their Trashion Show, we jumped at the opportunity.
The Trashion show aims to raise awareness on environmental issues and offer a greater understanding in culture and throwaway society through art and design. Students and staff from the Academy work together to create a fashion outfits and accessories using upcycled and recycled materials, that are fit for the runway.
All of the students at Catcote Academy have a wide range of learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Their Motto is "focus on what we CAN do, not what we can't!' and they are committed to ensuring that their students reach their full potential and become valuable members of society.
J&B Recycling has supported the Academy a number of times in recent years, offering placement opportunities for students and hosting tours of the recycling plant. But we haven’t been able to engage with the local community as much as we would have liked over the last year, as we all adapt to working alongside covid. In this instance, the sessions were delivered via zoom during assembly, but we very much hope that we will be able to attend the Trashion Show and meet some of the students. We also hope to welcome students from across the area back to the plant for educational visits after the Summer holidays.
In case you are interested, the fashion industry has a fairly large impact on biodiversity… and this is, in part, linked to recycling!
Biodiversity is the biological variety and variability of all life on Earth. The fashion industry is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss, whether this is through the creation of materials, such as cotton or the manufacture processes (e.g. treating and dying fabrics). As a result, apparel supply chains are directly linked to soil degradation, conversion of natural ecosystems, and waterway pollution.
When it comes to waste management, modern day fashion is very challenging to dispose of responsibly (or sustainably) because it is virtually impossible to separate all of the different materials used. Machines wouldn’t be able to separate the materials, which are often interwoven, and it would take a highly skilled workforce a huge amount of time to sift through all of the clothes we throw away to separate the different materials (that’s if they can be separated)! There is also the challenge of the sheer amount of clothing that is created, along with the short lifespan and ever-changing fashions.
Charities that recycle clothing are completely overwhelmed and many admit that only a small percentage of clothes that are donated actually make it on to the “shop floor”. In reality, a significant proportion of clothes have to be disposed on in the general waste. Whilst many areas do dispose of their general waste as responsibly as they can (i.e., not in landfill), thousands of tonnes of clothing and fashion accessories do find their way to landfill sites, which contribute to the loss of biodiversity.
According to the IPBES 2019 Global Assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services, biodiversity is declining at a faster rate than ever before in human history. One million species, between 12 percent and 20 percent of estimated total species, marine and terrestrial alike, are under threat of extinction.
So, if you want to support the maintenance of biodiversity, the best advise we can give is:
On a plus note, clothes can be made out of recycled materials. Hopefully as awareness increases, the fashion industry will start to use more recycled materials in their clothing manufacture, which could help reduce the decline in biodiversity as a result of the industries practices.