COP26 Special: Tackling climate change one stitch at a time

Posted: 11 October 2021, in Blog

In the lead up to the COP26 event in Glasgow and Climate Fringe we’re featuring green social enterprises to promote their inspiring work in tackling the climate emergency. This week we hear from Stitch the Gap – take part in the conversation on social media with the hashtags #GreenSocEnt and #COP26.

I watch TV and every second advert, from cars to soap powder, uses the word ‘sustainable’. Stitch the Gap are reclaiming that word as our own. We don’t use buzzwords or talk climate change or environmental impact. We get on with living it.

‘Fast fashion’, ‘recycle’, ‘buy social’ all mean different things to different people. We have created a social enterprise that lets you come in, have a shared experience sewing fabric and leave with a skill that embodies climate change without having to understand the definition of what that phrase means to you.

It is exciting that COP26 is being hosted in Glasgow but it hasn’t changed who we are or what we are doing this year. What does ‘Creating a legacy of environmental change’ really mean? To us that looks like kids learning through play – I’ve had kids in our classes literally jumping up and down with excitement as they fill the bobbin on their sewing machines with thread. Do they leave our classes talking about the environmental impact that they are having within their local community? Nope! But they do leave confident that they can work a machine and ask where they can buy one because it’s so much fun!

Will those same kids suddenly stop shopping in Pradamark and make their own clothes?  Probably not, but what they often do is come back to class to show us the pillowcases they made from an old t-shirt, the doll’s clothes they made from their old pyjamas. So bit by bit the legacy of change ticks forward.

Adults arrive at our classes tense, masks on and 2 meters apart. After spending time shutting out the world to the hum of the machines and chat within the room, they leave calmer and more connected. Do they suddenly stop their online purchasing? Maybe, maybe not. But what we do see is the facemask they made for their aunt (from that old duvet they had in the upstairs cupboard). 

More often than not, they arrive, armed with a bag of fabric/bedding/curtains, that is met with excitement from us. What will we make at our classes from such a treasure? Do they call this their ‘contribution to net-zero’ – naw! They get the pics of what their unwanted bedding looks like as a hairband in our kid’s classes…and so the circular economy evolves.

Buzzwords can get tae…please support Stitch the Gap in our efforts to affect climate change and remain environmentally sustainable – without feeling that it belongs to folk out there who don’t talk and walk like we do.

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Trish Papworth, Stitch the Gap