As part of the charity vInspired, which aims to provide volunteering and support for young people, Team v Redbridge are a group of young volunteers from their national programme Team v. The young volunteer’s first campaign was about ‘Building a Sustainable Generation.’ Young people have often been accused of being the disposable generation and so Team v are trying to raise awareness in local communities about how to reduce waste and promote sustainable living by Upcycling unwanted clothes rather than throwing them away.
According the Marks & Spencer’s 10,000 items of clothing are thrown away every 5 minutes! So Team v set about changing that! The idea behind the campaign was to promote sustainable living, asking people to pledge a promise to be more sustainable in one simple way. Also to encourage schools to upcycle old t-shirts to make them more appealing, wearable and as if brand new and also to get the community involved learning about customising old clothes.
Team v Redbridge held two workshops at Woodford County High School for Girls trying to raise the awareness about how the UK disposes of clothes and the alternatives available. The hour-long workshops involved a short introduction, a game (involving finding out where your clothes come from), a video promoting the campaign, a short quiz, a discussion about a school’s impact on waste and a petition to be part of People & Planet’s Green Education Declaration and finally a customising session on the students’ t-shirts that they bring to the workshop.
One of the workshops was optional during lunch time and the other to a Year 10 class, which was catered to cover the sustainability section within the GCSE Graphics syllabus. The girls discussed in groups about packaging and how the design of a product can result in wasted materials when it comes to boxing up the goods. With 76 million tons of waste coming from packaging alone, that is 30% of all trash, it is vital for the future generations of designers and entrepreneurs to understand the contribution the industry has on waste.
Team v Redbridge leader Rebecca Kemal commented “We needed to ensure that what we were offering to schools was flexible and appealing so that not only were the workshops worth-while but that they also would benefit the students’ depth of knowledge within and outside of the current curriculum. Learning about upcycling and re-using our clothes could potentially solve a future waste problem, with predictions of landfill sites being filled by 2020, it is vital that people realise that within 7 years they will be facing a big problem!”
The young volunteers asked people online via twitter and Facebook to send in a pledge for sustainability using the hashtag #planetsavingpledges. In return for your promise to be more sustainable, the team offered to email you a certificate of thanks, plant a seed on your behalf for a loved one or invited you to upcycle or swap at item of clothing at their Planet Saving Sustainability fete. The team received over 30 pledges from local citizens who pledged to be more sustainable, from making handmade gifts at Christmas, to composting food waste to recycling old cars, phones, materials and clothes, and the premise still remains open to people who wish to take part.
The final event for the team was to host a Sustainability Fete at Frenford Youth Club on the 28th November. Each member of the public were encouraged to bring at least one item of clothing to ‘swish’ or swap with others depending on the quality of the goods. Working on a token system, you could for example bring along a brand new designer t-shirt and in return get back a brand new designer jacket or equally three t-shirts for your designer goods. The more items you bring, the more tokens you have to swap with. The ‘swishing’ trend is getting bigger, with ‘swishing parties’ being held quite regularly throughout the UK. At the event there was also a stall where you could spray paint, customise and embellish items of clothing at the ‘customise & style’ stall and even cut-up your old t-shirt to make blankets for the homeless. Our own photographer volunteer gave anyone who wanted a chance to leave a #planetsavingpledge and volunteers were on hand to talk to you about alternative solutions, upcycling ideas and to take any feedback or ideas. The team were also supported by local group Barkingside21, who took some time out from turning on the Christmas lights on Barkingside High Street to support the young volunteers.
Hopefully Team v Redbridge have managed to change a few views about sustainability and local citizens are keeping their promised pledges to be more aware of our planet. One mantra that was common throughout their campaign was an encouragement of the Six Rs: Re-thinking, Re-using, Refusing, Recycling, Reducing and Repairing. Do that, then perhaps we can become the sustainable generation!
For more information about Team v Redbridge, to follow and support their next campaign or if you’re 16-25 volunteer with them, please get in touch:
Sign-up on vInspired http://vinspired.com/activities/188997-volunteers
You could leave them a #planetsavingpledge @vRedbridge or at https://www.facebook.com/planetsavingpledges
Post Author: Rebecca Kemal